At about 1240 Western Standard Time on 05 March 2005, an Avions Pierre Robin R-2160 aircraft, registered VH-OXY, crashed on a residential street, about 2 ½ NM west of Jandakot Airport, Western Australia.
The pilot reported that he was inbound to Jandakot when the engine suddenly lost power. The outboard portion of the right wing collided with a suburban power pole during the approach for the emergency landing and the aircraft rolled inverted and impacted the ground. The pilot, who was the sole aircraft occupant, sustained minor injuries and vacated without assistance. There was no spillage of fuel at the accident site and no post-impact fire. Personnel at the accident site inspected the aircraft’s fuel tank and observed that it did not contain any fuel.
The aircraft was on its first flight following maintenance, which had included the installation of an overhauled engine. During the flight the pilot completed the procedure for break-in of an overhauled engine. At the time of the accident, the aircraft had been airborne for 2 hours 41 minutes.
The circumstances of the engine failure were consistent with fuel exhaustion. Contributing to the fuel exhaustion were the higher than normal power settings, and therefore fuel consumption, associated with the conduct of the break-in flight.
Sequence of events
On 5 March 2005, at about 1240 Western Standard Time, an Avions Pierre Robin R-2160 aircraft, registered VH-OXY, was inbound to Jandakot Airport, WA. The flight was being conducted in the private category and the pilot was the sole occupant of the aircraft.
The pilot recalled that the aircraft was about 2 ½ NM west of the aerodrome and at an altitude of 1,200 ft when the engine suddenly lost power. The pilot was attempting to make an emergency landing on a residential street, when the outboard portion of the right wing collided with a suburban power pole. The aircraft rolled inverted before impacting the ground. The aircraft was substantially damaged. The pilot sustained minor injuries and vacated the aircraft without assistance. There was no spillage of fuel at the accident site and no post-impact fire. The maintenance personnel who attended the accident site inspected the aircraft's fuel tank and found that it did not contain any fuel.
An overhauled engine had just been fitted to the aircraft and the pilot reported that he was carrying out the engine manufacturer's procedure for engine break-in1. That procedure included that, after reaching cruise altitude, a pilot conducting the recommended 2.5 hours break-in flight should:
- Reduce the engine power setting to 75% maximum rated for the first hour of the flight. Data contained in the engine manufacturer's operator's manual indicated that 75% power was obtained at 2,450 RPM, and that the fuel consumption at that power was about 38 L/hour.
- Alternate the engine power between 65% and 75% during the second hour. The engine manufacturer's operator's manual indicated that 65% power was obtained at 2,350 RPM and resulted in a fuel consumption of about 34 L/hour.
- Operate the engine at 100% power for 30 minutes, provided that the engine and aircraft are performing within the published operating manual specifications. Data extracted from the engine manufacturer's operator's manual indicated that 100% power would be achieved at 2,700 RPM, and resulted in a fuel flow of about 53 L/hour.
Based on data contained in the engine manufacturer's operator's manual, it was estimated that the recommended engine break-in flight could have consumed between about 108 and 137 L of fuel.
The pilot reported that, during the engine break-in flight, he operated the aircraft's engine as follows:
- between 2,500 and 2,600 RPM for the first 2 hours of the flight
- at 2,700 RPM for the remainder of the flight before returning to Jandakot. The aircraft engine lost power 2 hours 41 minutes after takeoff.
The pilot stated that he used a calibrated dipstick to dip the aircraft's fuel tanks prior to the flight, and that the tanks contained 118 L of fuel. He had expected the aircraft to use 35 L/hr, which was the standard fuel consumption used by the company for flight planning in that aircraft type.
The aircraft was equipped with an annunciator panel that included a warning light to indicate a low fuel quantity. However, black adhesive tape had been stuck over that panel, preventing the pilot's view of the low fuel quantity warning light. Neither the aircraft's owner/operator nor the relevant maintenance organisation could explain why the tape was stuck over the panel.
Data contained in the engine manufacturer's operator's manual confirmed that, when operated at the power settings associated with the conduct of the manufacturer-recommended engine break-in flight, the engine was capable of using all of the 118 L of fuel confirmed by the pilot as available for the flight. The higher power settings reported as used by the pilot during the flight would have consumed even more fuel. That, and the lack of fuel in the aircraft's fuel tank, or of a significant spillage of fuel at the accident site, indicated that the engine failure was most probably the consequence of fuel exhaustion.
A visible fuel quantity warning light might have assisted the identification by the pilot of the developing low fuel quantity.
|Date:||05 March 2005||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Location:||2 km W Jandakot, Aero.|
|State:||Western Australia||Occurrence type:||Fuel exhaustion|
|Release date:||13 June 2006||Occurrence class:||Operational|
|Report status:||Final||Occurrence category:||Accident|
|Highest injury level:||Minor|