Date: May 02, 2005
Time: 2214
Location: Near Stratford, New Zealand
Operator: Airwork NZ
Flight #: 23
Route: Auckland - Blenheim
AC Type: Swearingen SA.227AC Metro III
Registration: ZK-POA
cn / ln: AC-551B
Aboard: 2   (passengers:0  crew:2)
Fatalities: 2   (passengers:0  crew:2)
Ground: 0
Summary: The plane entered a spiral descent and broke up. It found the captain noticed a fuel imbalance and opened the crossfeed. This resulted in the plane being flown at a large sideslip angle while still under autopilot control, by means of the rudder trim mechanism. Forty-seven seconds after the cross flow was opened, there was a "bank angle" warning, followed by a warning chime that was presumably a warning they were straying from their correct altitude. The autopilot disengaging, probably due to a servo reaching its torque limit. This meant that there was no compensation applied for the rudder trim input, and the plane entered a roll and steep descent, disintegrating around FL 199. The investigation found poor visibility at night in low cloud was a factor in preventing the pilots realizing sooner.

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