Duxford Dragon Rapide crash report released

The official investigation into the crash of a de Havilland Dragon Rapide at this year’s Duxford Summer Air show has been concluded.

The inquiry was launched after the aircraft – G-AIYR (c/n 6676) – suffered a landing incident which saw it pitch over onto its nose and exit the runway on June 19, 2022.

According to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report, the 1943-built biplane was returning to the Cambridgeshire airfield following a short local flight with eight passengers on board.

Approaching runway 06, with the reported wind as 340° at 10kts, there was a significant crosswind from the left, although it was within the aircraft limit of 20kts.

Seen here in 2003, Classic Wings’ de Havilland Dragon Rapide HG691 (G-AIYR) is a welcome and familiar sight at Duxford events
Seen here in 2003, Classic Wings’ de Havilland Dragon Rapide HG691 (G-AIYR) is a welcome and familiar sight at Duxford events Key Collection

Investigators say the pilot recalled the aircraft touching down on the left main landing gear and then, as the right wheel touched down, he felt a strong deceleration and the aircraft rapidly pitched nose down.

He described the landing as “not particularly heavy… though with a bit of a skip”.

The tips of both propellers struck the runway followed by the underside of the aircraft nose. It then slid along the tarmac before departing the paved surface to the right, stopping on the grass.

The AAIB says the outcome of the flight was “consistent with the expected effects of landing with a deflated right main tyre, as found after the event.”

No abnormal effects were noticed by the pilot during taxi, take-off or landing throughout the previous flight.

“It is therefore likely that the right main landing gear tyre deflated in flight or on touchdown,” the AAIB report says. “It was not possible to determine when the creep on the right wheel occurred, but the damage to the inner tube was consistent with creep and so that was the probable cause of the deflation.”

The aircraft suffered significant damage but none of those on board were injured.