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On 5 February 2007, a Cirrus SR22 aircraft, registered VH-HYY, with a pilot and one passenger on board, was being operated on a private flight from Canberra, ACT to Bankstown, NSW. As the aircraft approached the Cecil Park area, NSW, the pilot reported to air traffic control that the engine had lost power and he was attempting a forced landing. Soon after, the aircraft impacted terrain close to the M7 motorway and both occupants sustained serious injuries.

The investigation determined that the engine stopped due to the in-flight loss of a blanking cap from the un-metered fuel pressure test port in the engine fuel system. Testing showed that the engine would not operate with the cap missing.

The investigation determined that, instead of the normal steel cap, a plastic blanking cap had probably been fitted to the test port on the engine during maintenance and had been inadvertently left there, and that the plastic cap had detached from the test port just prior to the accident.

Prior to impact, the pilot activated the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), but the system malfunctioned and the parachute did not deploy correctly.

Following examination of the CAPS components from this aircraft and further functional testing of production CAPS components in the US, the aircraft manufacturer issued an Alert Service Bulletin incorporating design changes to the CAPS in the worldwide fleet of Cirrus aircraft.

The aircraft and engine manufacturers are also making a number of other changes to their processes and procedures based on lessons learnt from this accident.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will forward copies of this report to the relevant state emergency authorities to alert them to the dangers posed by ballistic parachute systems in light aircraft.

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