“Freak Weather” To Blame For Aircraft Breakup?


Australian Transportation Safety Board officials have no idea why a TasAir Aero Commander apparently broke into several pieces during a routine flight last February in Tasmania. But the owner of the plane suspects a “freak weather thing” caused the outboard sections of both wings and the tailplane to separate from the rest of the aircraft about 40 miles north of Hobart. A weather alert predicting occasional severe turbulence had been issued. Only the pilot, 21-year-old Heather Cochrane, was on board. TasAir owner George Ashwood said the cause of the accident may never be known. The ATSB concluded there was no evidence of corrosion, fatigue or any other structural problems that might have suddenly turned a single piece of airplane into 47 pieces of wreckage. There were no radio calls and the plane didn’t have a flight data or cockpit voice recorder. The pilot had about 500 hours.