At 1323 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) (0623 US Pacific Daylight Saving Time), on 9 June 2006, a Piper PA-44-180 Seminole aircraft, registered VH-CZE, departed Santa Barbara, California, USA, for Hilo, Hawaii. The aircraft was one of two Seminoles that were being ferried in-company to Australia under the instrument flight rules. At about 2050 UTC, the pilot in command advised US Air Traffic Services that the left engine had failed and that the aircraft would have to be ditched as the aircraft was 7 hrs from Hilo but only had 5 hrs of fuel endurance remaining. At about 0145 UTC, the aircraft ditched 980 km north-east of Hilo. The pilot and co-pilot exited the aircraft uninjured and were rescued by a nearby ship. The aircraft sank and was not recovered.
The pilot reported that more fuel was being drawn from the ferry fuel tank than was expected. In addition, a 5 cm x 1 cm scorch mark could be seen just above the landing gear observation mirror on the left inboard engine cowl. Following discussions with the pilot of the accompanying Seminole, the pilot decided to shut down the left engine. Prior to ditching, the pilot restarted the left engine to prevent an asymmetric situation on touchdown.
As a result of this occurrence, the aircraft operator has advised the Australian Transport Safety Bureau that:
- In conjunction with their US maintenance provider, they were continuing inquiries with respect to the interaction of the ferry fuel tank system and the fuel selector positions fitted to the aircraft and system management.
- They intended to change the ferry flight procedures to use more fuel from the aircraft wing fuel tanks and then periodically top-up those tanks from the ferry fuel tank, using the aircraft fuel contents gauges as a guide.
|Date:||09 June 2006||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Location:||980km NE Hilo Aero.|
|State:||International||Occurrence type:||Fuel systems|
|Release date:||17 May 2007||Occurrence category:||Accident|
|Report status:||Final||Highest injury level:||None|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Piper Aircraft Corp|
|Type of operation||Aerial Work|
|Damage to aircraft||Destroyed|
|Departure point||Santa Barbara, USA|
|Destination||Hilo, Hawaii, USA|
|Role||Class of licence||Hours on type||Hours total|