L2019-05 Ultralight aircraft accident in the Tampere-Pirkkala airport on 31 July 2019)

A student pilot was about to take off for a half-hour solo flight in an ultralight aircraft (type EV-97 Eurostar) on 31 July 2019. The student was on the runway and increased the engine power calmly. The aircraft veered left, and before the end of the paved section of the runway, the student steered the aircraft to take off. The aircraft continued to rise and circle to the left. After the circling had continued until around 180 degrees from the original heading, the bank angle was around 70 degrees to the left, and the flight altitude was above 50 metres from the ground surface.

After this, the flight altitude and bank angle decreased. After the aircraft had circled roughly 330 degrees, it stalled to the left and crashed into the ground, with the left wing leading. The duration of the flight was around 20 seconds. The student died from the injuries sustained in the crash.

The training of the student had taken an exceptionally long time. There were long breaks between the flight periods, and the seasonal number of flights was low. The slow accumulation of flight experience had been compensated by increasing the number of flights with a flight instructor, so the flight experience was greater than normal with respect to the entire training period. Compared to the overall number of flight hours, the student’s solo flight experience was minor. Solo flights are an important part of the training, but long pauses may increase the probability of an accident.

The student probably lost control of the aircraft due to the incorrect use of the rudder pedals. The pedals of the dual controls are located very close to each other, and making a mistake is easy. The manufacturer had published a voluntary maintenance bulletin that improves cabin ergonomics with respect to the pedals.

The Safety Investigation Authority issued a safety recommendation to the Light Aircraft Association of the Czech Republic (LAACR) due to the accident risk identified during the investigation. LAACR has not implemented the recommendation thus far.

The aircraft involved in the accident was equipped with a rocket-powered rescue parachute, which was not activated. Although the training and awareness of the risks of the rescue parachute have been increased, it was discovered during the investigation that the methods for the risk assessment and the safe and quick deactivation of rocket-powered rescue parachutes should be developed nationally.

The Safety Investigation Authority recommends that:

The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom review the criteria for assigning solo instructional flights during ultralight pilot license training in cases where safety matters may emerge due to breaks from training and amend the applicable regulations so that these matters will be addressed.

the LAA ČR issue a mandatory service bulletin for the installation of a barrier between the pedal assemblies of Evektor-Aerotechnik EV-97 aircraft. The modification would prevent the pilot from operating the adjacent pedal assembly.

the Ministry of the Interior and the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom together ensure that current knowledge and training on BRPS disarming are available to the organizations that are in charge of aircraft accident rescue operations and to police departments.

Safety Investigation Report L2019-05 (pdf, 1.71 Mt)

Published 18.6.2020