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Summary

Summary

The aircraft was on a flight from Port Macquarie, NSW to Moorabbin, VIC with an intermediate stop at Wangaratta, VIC. When nine kilometres north-east of Moorabbin, at an altitude of about 2500 feet, the engine stopped without warning. The pilot was unable to restart the engine in the time available and forced landed the aircraft onto a road. The left wing was substantially damaged when it collided with roadside obstructions. Investigation showed water was present in the right wing fuel collector tank, the fuel pump, the fuel control unit and in the fuel manifold valve. The aircraft was found to have had a history of water ingress into the fuel system. The wing upper access panels had previously been removed and resealed, and the fuel filler caps had been replaced. The pilot had fully refuelled the aircraft two days prior to the accident and during those two days torrential rain fell at the Port Macquarie airfield where the aircraft was parked. On the morning of the accident the pilot reported that he did not find any water when he checked the fuel system drains. The latter part of the flight had been through moderate to severe turbulence and it is suspected that water sitting within the wing fuel tank had been agitated and found its way into the engine supply system. It was not determined how the water entered the wing fuel tank, however, it is possible that some water had been present prior to the tank resealing, some weeks prior to the accident, and some may have entered the tank during the two days prior to this flight. At the accident site the left fuel tank was found to contain 53 litres of fuel while the right tank was virtually empty. Based on calculations of flight time versus known fuel consumption rates, there should have been about 117 litres of fuel remaining in the fuel tanks. The cause of the loss of fuel was not established. However, the pilot has advised that fuel has been stolen from aircraft based at Port Macquarie. Because the aircraft had not been flown since the pilot refuelled it, he did not visually check the tank contents prior to DEPARTURE from Port Macquarie. Although all the fuel could not be accounted for and the right tank was near empty, these facts were not considered factors in the accident. During his attempt to restart the engine, the pilot did not follow the procedure specified in the Pilot's Operating Handbook in that the throttle was fully open, the electric fuel pump was on, and the mixture rich. This would have severely limited the chances of a successful restart. (The throttle should have been half open, the electric fuel pump off and the mixture lean.) After a basic examination of the aircraft at the accident site, the engine was started without any problem.

 
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