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Summary

Summary

The owner pilot carried out a pre-flight check of the aircraft, which included a check of the fuel for contamination. The aircraft had last been refuelled at Maitland, prior to the flight to "Roeta". The weather was reported as fine and clear, with a temperature of about 35 degrees Celsius. The wind was from the southwest at about 5 knots. The gravel strip was level and estimated to be about 3000 feet in length. The pilot said he used the strip on numerous occasions over the past 10 years in this, and other aircraft. Take-off was conducted into wind, using the full length of the strip. Although engine power indications and acceleration appeared normal, the pilot said he was aware that the aircraft appeared to require a greater distance to reach take-off speed. He attributed this to the outside air temperature. At an indicated airspeed of 60 knots, with inadequate strip length remaining to safely abort the take-off, the aircraft was flown off the ground. This was followed by an immediate and complete loss of engine power. Maximum flap was extended and the aircraft landed on the strip remaining.

The aircraft continued beyond the strip end, across a road and associated table drain, before coming to rest. Although the reason for the loss of power was not established, water contamination of the fuel is considered by the pilot to be a strong possibility. The aircraft is fitted with bladder type fuel cells which can harbour water not easily detectable. The aircraft had had little use over the previous three months, during which time it had been parked in the open on level surfaces. On the two days prior to the accident the aircraft had been parked on a slope. It is considered by the pilot that water could have migrated from low points in the fuel cells to a position where it may have been ingested by the engine, resulting in a sudden loss of power.

 
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