Aviation safety investigations & reports

Forced/precautionary landing involving a Cessna Aircraft Company 210N, VH-BFN, Virginia, SA on 26 July 1998

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The aircraft departed Parafield for Renmark on a private flight. He could not land at Renmark when he arrived due to low stratus cloud. He then elected to return to Parafield. En route he flew above cloud to remain in VMC. North east of Parafield, while still on top of cloud at 3,000 ft, the pilot contacted Adelaide approach and requested navigational assistance. The controller vectored the aircraft to the vicinity of Edinburgh where the pilot was able to resume his own navigation and commenced a descent to 1,500 ft. Shortly thereafter, the pilot called 'Mayday' because the engine had failed. During the forced landing the aircraft landed heavily and crashed through a fence. The pilot subsequently reported that before leaving Parafield, both fuel tanks had been filled to the tab. He flew with the right tank selected all the time from Parafield until the engine lost power. At no stage had he leaned the fuel mixture. Sometime during the descent from 3,000 ft the right fuel tank ran dry and the engine starved of fuel. The pilot did not realise that the engine had lost power until he tried to increase power at about 1,100 ft. He then changed the fuel selector to the left tank. He also switched on the electric fuel boost pump but the engine still did not regain power except for one quick burst while the boost pump was selected to high. At about 200 ft AGL, he reselected the right fuel tank but the engine never regained power. After the accident engineers inspected the aircraft and reported that both the right wing tank and the right reservoir tank were empty and had not leaked fuel as a result of the accident. The left wing tank contained about 135 litres, after fuel had spilled from it due to the accident. A subsequent engine run proved that there was no fault with the engine; nor was fault found with the airframe fuel system. No evidence was found that the engine had flooded; the exhaust showed no signs of soot. It is probable that the pilot inadvertently ran the right tank dry while under stress of flying in marginal weather. When he changed to the left tank, he probably did not persist long enough with the electric boost pump selected on for the air to be purged from the fuel lines to the engine. When the pilot reselected the right tank there was no chance that the engine could regain power. SAFETY ACTION After the accident, a flying operations inspector retested the pilot's knowledge of flight planning, fuel management and the Cessna 210N fuel system.
Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 15KB]
General details
Date: 26 July 1998   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 9:15 CST    
State: South Australia   Occurrence type: Forced/precautionary landing  
Release date: 26 August 1998   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final    

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 210N  
Aircraft registration VH-BFN  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Parafield SA  
Destination Renmark SA