This Day in History: 2019-09-20

Mooney M20J 201 VH-DJU crashed 26 km west of Coffs Harbour, NSW on 20 September 2019. At about 0640 Eastern Standard Time the aircraft departed Murwillumbah, New South Wales for a private flight under visual flight rules to Taree, New South Wales. On board were the pilot and one passenger. At 0717, when DJU was 45 NM north of Coffs Harbour, the pilot contacted air traffic control and requested a clearance to transit the Class C controlled airspace at 6,500 ft. Air traffic control advised that a clearance was not available at that altitude and that, due to cloud conditions, a visual transit of the airspace would only be possible at an altitude not above 1,000 ft. The pilot then advised that the flight would descend to ‘not above 1,000 ft’. The aircraft continued on a direct track to Taree and at 0724 the pilot reported that the aircraft was operating outside controlled airspace in clear conditions at 4,100 ft and would remain on that track. The aircraft was then climbed to 4,500 ft and at 0732, commenced a descent in the vicinity of high terrain. The aircraft did not arrive at Taree as expected so a search was initiated. The aircraft was found to have collided with terrain about 26 km west of Coffs Harbour Airport. The two persons on board were fatally injured and the aircraft was destroyed. Sources: ATSB Investigation number AO-2019-052; website