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Shortly after takeoff, on the 33 degree Celcius day and close to the approved maximum weight, the right engine surged and lost power. The pilot completed his engine failure after takeoff check list and looked for a landing site. The only suitable area, in the aircraft's flight path was the harbour. The aircraft was unable to maintain height and the pilot reported that it descended at 100 feet per minute until it struck the water. The pilot then retarded the left throttle and allowed the aircraft to ditch. The symptoms reported by the pilot indicated that there had been an interruption to the fuel flow to the right engine. The investigation found that the right hand electrical fuel boost pump was unserviceable. No other faults were found. The reason for the engine failure could not be determined. At the manufacturer's approved maximum weight of 3060 kilograms the single engine performance charts contained in the USA approved Flight Manual, indicate that the aircraft should climb at 230 feet per minute at 33 degrees Celcius. The Civil Aviation Authority had approved an increase in maximum weight to 3357 kilograms, however, the Australian approved Aircraft Flight Manual does not contain any single engine performance information. The USA manual does not contain any information on performance at the increased maximum weight. Practical experience indicates that a single engine AC500S should be able to achieve a positive, but minimal, rate of climb at the accident flight weight and temperature, if all other conditions are at their optimum. On this occasion wind conditions were turbulent, making accurate flying difficult and the aircraft was not able to achieve a positive rate of climb once the right engine had failed.

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General details
Date: 06 October 1989 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1632  
Location:Port Headland Harbour Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Western Australia  
Release date: 19 November 1990  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Aero Commander 
Aircraft model: 500 
Aircraft registration: VH-NLL 
Serial number: 3722 
Type of operation: Charter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Port Headland WA
Departure time:1630
Destination:Punmu WA
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