Accident to the Daher Aerospace - RALLYE 235 F registered F-GNHE on 23/02/2020 at Puivert (Aude)

Investigation progression Closed
Progress: 100%

Cat. 3 investigation report: report concerning an occurrence with limited consequences, based on one or more statements not independently validated by the BEA.

This is a courtesy translation by the BEA of the Final Report on the Safety Investigation published in November 2020. As accurate as the translation may be, the original text in French is the work of reference.

Note: the following information is principally based on the pilot’s statement. This information has not been independently validated by the BEA.

1 - History of the flight

The pilot carried out several glider-tow flights from Puivert aerodrome. At the end of his twelfth tow flight, he planned to land on runway 14 in the opposite direction to take-off, as during the previous flights, to reduce the flight time. He joined the left-hand downwind leg for runway 14.

After a U-shaped approach bringing him to final for runway 14, the pilot saw a glider facing him, on final for runway 32. He then reapplied power and simultaneously began a right turn to fly 360°. He "turned short" in front of a hedge of poplars to avoid flying over gardens located near the beginning of the runway where people were gathered that afternoon. During this turn, the aircraft's speed increased while the height was maintained at about 100 ft.

During this manoeuvre, the glider landed and cleared the runway.

At the end of the 360°, the speed of the plane was still high and the landing was long. The plane touched down halfway down the runway and the pilot began braking. The pilot then thought that he would not be able to take off again or stop the plane before the gliders holding near the end of the runway. He thus decided to operate only the rudder and the right brake. The plane veered off the runway and ended its run in a creek bordering the south of the aerodrome.

2 - Additional information
2.1 Aerodrome information

Puivert aerodrome, consisting of a grass runway 14/32, is for restricted use. It is reserved for gliders and tugs.

The pilot specified that the Puivert aerodrome A/A frequency was also used on several neighbouring aerodromes and that messages could be received simultaneously. On the day of the accident, this frequency was saturated at times. He added that he did not hear the message from the pilot of the glider that landed facing him on runway 32.

It is common for take-offs to be carried out on runway 32 and for tugs to land on runway 14. In the specific instructions of the aerodrome's VAC chart, it is mentioned in the air navigation hazards: "different RWY directions may be used for LDG and TKOF."

2.2 Pilot information

The 71-year-old pilot held an aeroplane private pilot license issued in March 2013 and the glider towing rating. He had logged 296 flying hours, including 139 hours on Rallye. In the three months prior to the accident, he had flown a total of nine hours, seven of which were on Rally.

The pilot indicated that the wind was from 330° at 8 kt. He explained that the ground speed during the landing was thus increased by a tailwind component. He added that he could have landed on runway 32.