CAA: ‘Amateur built’ plane broke apart in mid-air at excess speed

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A small plane that crashed, killing two people in Northland in 2018, broke apart because it was travelling faster than the design allowed, the aviation watchdog says.

Part of the wreckage from  Dean Voelkerling's small plane that broke apart and crashed.

Photo: CAA / Supplied

The “amateur built” kitset single engine aircraft was being flown from Whangārei to Dargaville on New Year’s Day.

A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) report said the pilot banked the plane tightly then the nose dipped.

This made the aircraft descend at speeds of more than 450 kilometres an hour – beyond the plane’s “never exceed” speed – causing it to break up in mid air.

The report said the plane broke up as a result of “rudder flutter” because the aircraft airspeed exceeded the design limitations.

The rudder flutter resulted in the separation of the rudder and the vertical stabiliser.

The CAA said the accident was a reminder for pilots to stick to their aircraft’s limit, and to their own capabilities.

The 53-year-old pilot had an aeroplane private pilot licence and a helicopter airline transport pilot licence, according to the CAA.

He had flown about 380 hours on fixed wing aircraft and had gained most of his flying experience on helicopters where he had more than 4300 hours.

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