Harsh conditions highlighted in AIC report

The PNG Accident Investigation Commission has released a preliminary report on the fatal aircraft accident between the Yalumet and Saidor Gap in Morobe Province that resulted in the death of an Australian Pilot.

The report highlights the harsh conditions along this part of Papua New Guinea that may have caused the accident.

Investigations are underway by the PNG Accident Investigation Commission to find out what actually happened the day 34 year old David Tong’s plane plummeted to destruction along the rugged terrains of the Sarawaget Range in Morobe Province.

Tong was a pilot with North Coast Aviation.

When releasing the preliminary report, AIC said they were in Nadzab a day after the accident, however, just like the rescuers, they couldn’t access the accident site because of extreme bad weather conditions.

From GPS records, the plane impacted the ridge at about 9 500 ft on the ridge that runs down towards Sapmanga Valley from Sarawaget Ranges.

AIC officers reached the accident site on 6th January 2018 and with the help of a drone, conducted the onsite phase of the investigation. 

During the search for the aircraft, what appeared to be the right aileron was found hanging from a tree near the top of the densely vegetated ridge.

The remainder of the wreckage was found about 150m from the aileron along the projected track.

The aircraft impacted the ground in a steep nose down and right wing-low attitude.

The majority of the aircraft wreckage was contained at the ground impact point.

The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces whilst the pilot, who was the sole occupant, initially survived then was reported deceased by the rescue team on the 27th of December 2017.

From AIC’s report, there was adverse weather over the Sarawaget Range at the time of the flight and during the days that follow.

The Investigation is continuing and will conclude after analysing evidence obtained at the accident site and data and documents relating to the weather, communications, search and rescue and flight operations records.

Charmaine Poriambep