Accident to the Schempp Hirth - Janus C registered F-CFAL on 25/06/2019 at Laval Entrammes Aerodrome (Mayenne)

Investigation progression Closed
Progress: 100%

During the initial climb, the pilot in the front seat asked the winch operatorto accelerate on two occasions. After being released at an altitude of approximately 430 m, the glider lost altitude. The pilot in the rear seat suggested to the pilot in the front seat to head towards a cumulus cloud to make use of any uplift. At an altitude of 300 m, they decided to turn back to land on unpaved runway 32 and the pilot in the rear seat took control with the agreement of the pilot in the front seat. He announced over the radio that he was on the left-hand downwind leg to unpaved runway 32.

At a height of about 30 m, while still on the downwind leg, the pilot realised that he was too low and that he would not be able to reach the threshold of unpaved runway 32. He turned left and converged toward the mid-point of runway 32. During this turn, the glider made contact with the ground before the paved runway in the obstacle free zone at an angle of 30° in respect of the runway centreline. It came to rest 65 m further along on the left-hand edge of the paved runway. The two pilots evacuated the glider.

During the winch launch, the glider's air brakes deployed spuriously. Failure to take sufficient account of the degraded performance and the path followed by the pilot in the rear seat meant that he was unable to reach the chosen runway and make a safe landing.