On 14 July 2019, a Gippsland GA8 Airvan crashed on a river islet in Sweden, killing all nine people on board. Structural failure of a wing is suspected as the cause of the accident. Consequently, the Gippsland GA8 Airvan was grounded by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in Australia, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAANZ) in New Zealand and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in the European Union. The grounding order was issued on 20 July and was due to run until 3 August, but was lifted early as CASA found there is no evidence for an unsafe condition, and the EASA said the wrecked aircraft had been exposed to aerodynamic loads beyond certification.
|2019 Skydive Umeå Gippsland GA8 Airvan crash|
The aircraft involved, carrying its former registration VH-EZS
|Date||14 July 2019|
|Summary||Suspected structural failure|
|Site||Storsandskär, Umeå, Sweden|
|Aircraft type||Gippsland GA8 Airvan|
|Flight origin||Umeå Airport|
At 13:33 local time on 14 July 2019, the aircraft took off from Umeå Airport with the pilot and eight parachutists on board. A radio report was made that aircraft was at an altitude of 4,000 metres (13,000 ft), and the parachutists were ready to jump, but the aircraft crashed shortly after 14:00 on Storsandskär, an islet in the Ume River adjacent to Umeå Airport; all on board were killed. Witnesses reported that some of the parachutists tried to jump from the aircraft before it crashed. The Bothnia Line was consequently closed, but reopened at 18:30. The descent of the aircraft was filmed by a local inhabitant. The accident is the deadliest involving the GA8 Airvan.
On 19 July, EASA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive prohibiting the operation of the Gippsland GA8 Airvan in European Union airspace, effective 20 July until further notice. CASA also prohibited operation of the aircraft in Australian airspace effective 20 July for 15 days, but with an option to extend the timescale. On 20 July, the CAANZ suspended the airworthiness certificates of all Gippsland GA8 Airvan aircraft operating in New Zealand. CASA and EASA lifted the grounding order on 25 July.
The accident aircraft was a Gippsland GA8-TC320 Airvan, with the registration SE-MES, c/n GA8-TC 320-12-178. Manufactured in 2012, the aircraft had previously operated in Australia under the registration VH-EZS.
The Swedish Accident Investigation Authority (Statens haverikommission, SHK) opened an investigation into the accident. Investigators from the SHK arrived on Storsandskär on 15 July, and on 16 July it was announced that the wreckage would be moved to the SHK's headquarters for further investigation. One avenue of investigation is the structural failure of a wing in flight.
A preliminary report was released on 18 september 2019. This report does not make any final conclusion but noted that the aircraft did dive very quickly and disintegrated in air. Many questions remain and a final report is expected in year 2020.
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