Atol Prototype Down In Finland
Text by Kate O’Connor, via AVweb – Atol Avion lost its prototype ATOL 650 amphibious LSA to an accident during a test flight on Tuesday. The two crew-members on board were able to escape the wreckage without life-threatening injuries but suffered second- and third-degree burns in the post-crash fire. According to Atol, the fire also completely destroyed the aircraft. The aircraft went down in a forested area in Rovaniemi, Lapland, in northern Finland.
The company says the crash was caused by the canopy opening in flight, which “acted as an ‘air brake’ and although the aircraft remained steerable it lost speed and altitude even with full throttle, eventually leading to a forced landing.”
Atol reports that the reason for the unplanned opening of the canopy is under investigation and that it will also be looking into making the aircraft’s fuel tanks and attachments more crash-resistant.
Atol Avion is reportedly the only aircraft manufacturer in Finland. The ATOL 650 is a wood composite, Rotax 912iS-powered update on the original ATOL Amphibian. The company says it does not believe the accident will affect its timetable for type-approval and production. Last year, Atol announced plans to build the 650 LSA in Brunswick, Maine, and has previously said it hopes to begin European deliveries in late 2018.