2000 Australia Beechcraft King Air crash

2000 Australia Beechcraft King Air crash

On September 4, 2000 a chartered Beechcraft 200 Super King Air operated by Central Air departed from Perth, Australia, destined for Leonora, a mining town 370 miles (600 km) away, carrying seven passengers plus the pilot.ATSBLink |type=A |year=2000 |occno=200003771 |title=Beech Aircraft Corp 200, VH-SKC |accessdate=2007-06-09] [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2003/s860702.htm Nick McKenzie, "Family of Ghost Flight plane crash victims angry with aviation regulator, CASA", "ABC-PM" 2003-05-21] ] After 22 minutes of flight, the aircraft had passed through its assigned altitude. It was at this point that ATC noticed that the pilot's speech had become significantly impaired and he was unable to respond to instructions. Communications continued with the pilot for a further eight minutes, before he lapsed into unconsciousness and no sounds of life on board could be heard.

Two general aviation aircraft, one belonging to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and another small aircraft operating commercially, intercepted the Super King Air and attempted unsuccessfully to make radio contact.

The plane continued flying on a constant heading for five hours, covering 1,760 miles (2,840 km), before crashing 65 km ESE Burketown, in northwest Queensland, at 0210 local time. [http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/english/200009/05/eng20000905_49748.html "Plane Crashes in Australia, All Eight Aboard Dead", "Peoples Daily", 2000-09-05] ] The accident became known in the Australian media as the "Ghost Flight".

The aircraft was completely destroyed in the impact and the post-crash fire, making the investigation difficult. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and coroner investigating the crash concluded that depressurization was likely the cause of incapacitation, but were unable to conclusively rule out the presence of toxic fumes, possibly from the air conditioning system. [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/stories/s674866.htm Ian Townsend, "Coroner critises ATSB following plane crash", "ABC-PM",2002-09-12] ] [ [http://www.ferret.com.au/articles/1c/0c00571c.asp "New theory on mining aircraft crash", "Ferret.com.au", 2001-07-04] ]

The ATSB recommended that visual cabin depressurization warning systems in Australian-registered pressurised aircraft be supplemented by an aural warning. In 2001 the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) issued a Discussion Paper [ [http://www.casa.gov.au/newrules/parts/039/download/dp0102cs.pdf Discussion Paper DP 0102 CS] Retrieved on 2008-3-5] on the subject of the ATSB recommendation, and in 2002 issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making. [ [http://www.casa.gov.au/newrules/parts/039/download/nprm0216cs.pdf Notice of Proposed Rule Making 0216 CS] Retrieved on 2008-3-5] The outcome of consultation with the aviation community on the NPRM was that CASA declined to make it mandatory for aural warning systems to be installed in Australian-registered pressurised aircraft, evoking criticism in the media. (No country mandates aural warning of cabin depressurisation.)

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