The following information is principally based on the pilot’s statement. This information has not been independently validated by the BEA.
This is a courtesy translation by the BEA of the Final Report on the Safety Investigation published in August 2020. As accurate as the translation may be, the original text in French is the work of reference.
1 - History of the flight
After getting into the left front seat, the pilot performed the start checklist and operated the handbrake (brake handle) several times. Being more accustomed to another braking system (on the rudder pedals), he wanted to check the different positions of the handle. At the end of the manipulation, he inadvertently left the handle in the brake not applied position.
While the pilot was performing the checklist, the engine of another nearby plane was started up. Disturbed by the noise, the pilot activated the noise reduction system on his headset.
Persuaded that the parking brake was applied, the pilot started the engine while watching the instruments. The plane immediately moved forward at a speed of about 18 km/h. Due to the noise reduction system in his headset, the pilot was less aware of the engine noise and did not realize that the engine speed had probably remained quite high (about 1,200 rpm).
When the pilot noticed the plane was moving, he pressed, by reflex, the tops of the rudder pedals. Noticing that there was no braking action, he then deflected the aeroplane to the right using the rudder pedals to avoid collision with the fence that delimited the aerodrome area. The left wingtip of the DR400 F-GBVJ then caught the wing of the DR400 F-GJZJ, parked on its right. The plane swivelled to the left before stopping against the left wing of the DR400 F-GJZJ, severely damaging it with its rotating propeller. The pilot specified that he had not tried to use the handbrake or to shut down the engine after the beginning of the run.
2 - Additional information
2.1 Pilot information
On the day of the accident, the 61-year-old pilot had held a private pilot license since April 2015. He had logged 161 flight hours, all carried out on DR400s. The flight preceding the accident, which lasted one hour, had been performed three days earlier on a DR400 with the braking system on the rudder pedals. The last flight of the pilot on F-GBVJ had been carried out in January 2020.
2.2 Operating instructions for DR400 F-GBVJ brake handle
The DR400 F-GBVJ does not have foot brakes but a brake handle. The documentation of the aero club as well as the "pre start-up" check-list indicate this particularity.
This handle has two positions, vertical and horizontal. A marker (white dot) located on the handle allows the pilot to check the correct position of the handle when locking the parking brake.
The documentation specifies the positions of the brake handle:
- The "parking brake" position:
This position is to be used only when parking or at the holding point. The handle is in the vertical position with its white dot at the top. This position uses locking notches that prevent the handle from being released.
- The "braking" position:
This position is to be used only when taxiing or braking during landing. The handle is in the horizontal position. The locking notches cannot be used in this position.
Speed calculated during the investigation.
According to the various witnesses, the run lasted about five seconds.