Note: The following information is principally based on the instructor’s and student pilot’s statements. This information has not been independently validated by the BEA.
This is a courtesy translation by the BEA of the Final Report on the Safety Investigation published in April 2020. As accurate as the translation may be, the original text in French is the work of reference.
1 - History of the flight
The student pilot, in the front seat, accompanied by the instructor in the rear seat, took off from Beynes - Thivernal aerodrome at about 14:40 for a local flight and headed west. Given the favourable weather conditions, the purpose of the flight was to allow the student pilot to practice using thermal lifts.
The glider flew up to 15 km west of the aerodrome. After a 45-minute flight, the instructor and the student pilot decided to turn back. The student pilot headed for the aerodrome and joined the circuit for runway 30 from the north. In preparation for landing, the student pilot proposed an optimal approach speed (VOA) of 105 km/h and the instructor validated this speed.
In the base leg, the glide slope and speed were correct. The student pilot started the last turn to the final approach for runway 30 without taking into account the south-westerly 15 kt wind. The glider was thus aligned off-centre to the right of the runway centreline. The student pilot decided to perform a dog leg. During this manoeuvre, the speed decreased. The instructor indicated to the student pilot that the speed was too low. The student pilot held a correct glide slope and a converging path towards the aiming point, but still at a lower speed than the optimal approach speed.
While the glider was at a height of about 20 m, its speed was 80 km/h. The instructor told the student pilot to pay attention to the speed. The student pilot retracted the speed brakes and pushed on the stick. The glider approached the ground very quickly. The instructor tried to counter the input but the student pilot held the stick firmly. The instructor did not have time to ask the student pilot to let go of the controls before contact with the ground. The glider did not flare before it touched down.
2 - Additional information
2.1 Student pilot information
At the time of the accident, the student pilot was training to be a glider pilot and had logged 26 flight hours. He had completed nine flights with this instructor before the day of the accident.
The student pilot indicated that he had overestimated the height and time required to reach the ground. He explained that, when the instructor asked him to pay attention to the speed on short final, he retracted the speed brakes. At the same time, he pushed on the stick, believing that he had enough height to complete the manoeuvre. He did not have enough time to flare.
2.2 Instructor information
On the day of the accident, the instructor, who held a glider pilot licence and an instructor rating, had logged 2,467 glider flight hours.
He indicated that, after 45 minutes of flight, he felt that the student pilot was a little tired and less accurate. The instructor and the student pilot then made the decision to return to the aerodrome.
The instructor explained that the airspeed was low on short final, but sufficient to continue the landing.
 This is a calculated airspeed that must be maintained throughout the approach in order to make a safe landing. It depends on the stall speed in the selected landing configuration, wind speed and gust speed.
 He is also a tug pilot.