Fatal crop duster crash blamed on weight

A light plane crash that killed a pilot in Victoria's southeast was likely carrying too much weight, an investigation has found.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said the Piper PA-25 agricultural-spreading aircraft may have been carrying too much fertiliser when it plunged into rugged terrain near Seaview in Gippsland on February 23, 2022.

An official report released on Thursday says the plane was too heavy to out-climb trees soon after take-off.

The aircraft's left wing hit trees and detached from the aircraft before crashing and killing the sole occupant, a 60-year-old Leongatha man.

ATSB director transport safety Michael Walker said fuel was not a factor and weight was the likely cause.

"While the amount of fertiliser on board could not be determined, it was likely the aircraft's weight exceeded the performance-limited maximum take-off weight for the strip, as well as the aircraft's documented maximum take-off weight," Dr Walker said.

He said safety margins were reduced because of an increased height of trees at the northern end of the strip since it was last used by the pilot.

Engine power during take-off may have also been slightly lower than normal.

"It is possible the engine was negatively impacted by the volume of water present within the air, affected by carburettor ice, or the carburettor heat selector may have been inadvertently left on during take-off," Dr Walker said.