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Poor light may have been factor in Boxwood plane crash

A year-long investigation into the plane crash that killed Shaun Owen has foudn he attempted to land on an unlit airstrip after last light.

MONIQUE FREER July 2, 2014 3:40am

A memorial service was held for Shaun Owen last Friday after he died in a plane crash on June 27.Benalla Ensign on 10/07/2013 CAPTION: A memorial service was held for Shaun Owen last Friday after he died in a plane crash on June 27.Shepparton News on 12/07/2013 CAPTION: A memorial service was held for Shaun Owen last Friday after he died in a plane crash on June 27.Benalla Ensign on 10/07/2013 CAPTION: A memorial service was held for Shaun Owen last Friday after he died in a plane crash on June 27.


A year-long investigation into a fatal light plane crash at Boxwood has found the pilot attempted to land on an unlit airstrip after last light.

Boxwood resident Shaun Owen, 51, was returning to his property on June 27 last year after a one-month period away from home when the tragedy occurred.

Mr Owen was the chief executive and founder of international transport and logistics company Transtech and was a member of Life Church Benalla for 11 years.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau determined the pilot attempted a landing at Boxwood after last light knowing that the lighting was inadequate, and that the airstrip did not meet the physical and obstacle clearance requirements for night operations.

The bureau found that a family member was using a vehicle’s headlights to illuminate the end of the landing strip on the property near Benalla-Boundary and Boxwood Rds.

However, the investigation determined that this lighting was insufficient and provided inadequate guidance for the landing, increasing the risk of a collision with terrain.

The Cirrus SR22 aircraft struck a tree as it approached, inverted and crashed to the ground. Mr Owen was fatally injured and the aircraft was destroyed.

ATSB found the pilot was appropriately licensed and the post-mortem examination and toxicology testing found no underlying factor that may have contributed to the accident.

The danger of night landings was also highlighted as a key safety message in the report.

‘‘Night landings at inadequately lit airstrips are inherently dangerous and increase the risk of a collision with terrain,’’ the report read.

‘‘The requirements for the conduct of operations at night, including lighting, pilot qualifications, aircraft equipment and systems and aerodrome equipment are intended to reduce this risk.

‘‘It is likely that, had these risk controls been given effect, this accident would not have happened.’’

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