The Papua New Guinea Accident Investigation Commission (AIC) released a preliminary report on the fatal accident involving a Turbine Islander near Kiunga. The AIC chief blamed locals for disturbing the accident scene.
On April 13, 2016, a Britten-Norman BN-2T Islander aircraft, operated by Sunbird Aviation, impacted terrain short of the runway at Kiunga Airport in Papua New Guinea, killing all 12 persons on board.
The Preliminary report states that the aircraft took off from Tekin Airport at 13:56 hours local time on a VFR flight to Kiunga. On board were the pilot-in-command and 11 passengers: eight adults and three persons marked as infants on the manifest. In addition to the passengers and their baggage, the aircraft was carrying a significant quantity of vegetables. The flight arrived in the circuit area at Kiunga at 14:30 and the pilot flew a left-hand circuit to land on runway 07.
Several witnesses reported that during its final approach the aircraft suddenly pitched up, almost to the vertical, after which the right wing dropped and the aircraft fell to the ground. It impacted the terrain vertically with almost no forward motion, about 1,200 metres west of the threshold of runway 07. Help arrived at the accident site after approximately 15 minutes. Three adults were found to have survived and were airlifted to Kiunga Hospital, where they later died. The other nine occupants did not survive the impact.
Investigators found the no.2 engine propeller in the feathered position. In local media the AIC’s CEO stated that people rushed to have a look after the accident and may have been responsible for moving or removing baggage and other items from the aircraft. This will make it difficult to compare the weight reported on the manifest with the actual weight and weight-and-balance.
The investigation is continuing.