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At the completion of a local flight the pilot selected the landing gear down but there was no subsequent indication that it was down and locked. He cycled the landing gear and actuated the emergency lowering system. The aircraft was directed to remain clear of the circuit for some time before it was cleared to return and fly past the tower five times to allow a visual inspection of the landing gear. After the last fly past, as the aircraft was climbing to the left the engine began to surge. The pilot continued the turn, intending to land on runway 14, and attempted to restore power. However, the engine did not respond and the aircraft landed heavily in a field 400 metres short of the runway. Inspection of the aircraft after the accident indicated that the landing gear had been down and locked at the time of impact. As the landing gear had been dislodged in the accident, it was not possible to ascertain the cause of the malfunction. It was established that the pilot had flown with the left fuel tank selected until the engine began to surge. Examination of the aircraft showed that the left tank was empty, and the right tank contained approximately 85 litres of fuel. The pilot had evidently become preoccupied with the landing gear problem. He also had to contend with an increase in radio traffic as the airport controllers passed advice to him and prepared the airport for a possible landing with a gear malfunction, all on the one frequency. The pilot's preoccupation caused him to lose awareness of time and he did not return to his check sequence and change the fuel tank selection before the left tank ran dry. Testing of the fuel system after the accident showed that it was unlikely that, with the limited time available to him, the pilot could switch tanks and get the engine re-started before he was faced with a forced landing. FACTORS 1. The pilot became preoccupied with a landing gear indication malfunction, and lost awareness of time. 2. Fuel starvation when the selected tank ran dry. 3. The engine ceased to deliver power at a height that was probably too low to permit the engine to be restarted. 4. The pilot was forced to land on unsuitable terrain.

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[ Download PDF: 23KB]
General details
Date: 23 May 1990 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1134  
Location   (show map):Launceston Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Tasmania  
Release date: 08 April 1991  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Piper Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: PA-32 
Aircraft registration: VH-WHG 
Serial number: 32R-7780103 
Type of operation: Charter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Launceston TAS
Departure time:1020
Destination:Launceston TAS
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