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The pilot of the Piper Pawnee had completed spraying the first property for the day. After landing, the operator discussed the next job with the pilot, including the area to treated, the rate of application of the chemical, and fuel management. The operator and his son then drove to the next property to mark a cotton field to be sprayed. Spraying of the field commenced approximately 30 minutes later. After operating for about 50 minutes the engine stopped as the aircraft was flying at about 10 feet above the crop, during a swath run. The pilot climbed the aircraft to 60 feet, performed a trouble check, and then carried out a forced landing straight ahead into the cotton crop. During the landing the wheels entered soft muddy conditions. The aircraft decelerated rapidly, pitched onto its nose, and then overturned. Owing to the wet conditions, it took the operator about 20 minutes to get to the accident site. On arrival he found the pilot walking along a fence line, dazed and in shock, carrying his helmet which had sustained a large crack on the top. A subsequent examination of the aircraft by the operator found an absence of fuel. The time airborne had exceeded the fuel endurance of the aircraft. In addition, the pilot did not have a reliable means of determining elapsed time to enable him to monitor fuel endurance. It was reported that the aircraft fuel contents indicator was not sufficiently accurate for precise measurement of the fuel tank contents.
Download Final Report
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General details
Date: 29 January 1996 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 10:15 ESuT  
 Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
 Occurrence type: Fuel exhaustion 
Release date: 02 May 1996 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Piper Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: PA-25-235 
Aircraft registration: VH-ALA 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Avondale NSW
Destination:Avondale NSW
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Last update 21 October 2014