Aviation safety investigations & reports

Electrical System Event, 130 km SE of Mackay Aerodrome, Qld, 4 September 2007, VH-YJR, Rockwell Aero Commander 500-S

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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During cruise at 9,000 ft, the aircraft encountered severe turbulence and the electrical system failed. The pilot unintentionally lost control of the aircraft when he leaned forward on the control column yoke and used both hands to search in the dark for a torch on the cockpit floor.

After recovering the hand-held torch, the pilot was able to light the instrument panel and return the aircraft to the required heading and altitude. When the battery master switch was turned off, the electrical system returned to full operation on alternators.

Maintenance personnel found that an internal electrical short in one of the 12 volt batteries had contributed to the electrical failure. After replacement of the faulty battery and completion of satisfactory electrical system checks, the aircraft was returned to service.

The pilot of the aircraft now secures his torch to his shirt with a strap to enable him to use both hands to keep control of the aircraft should a similar situation arise.

The aircraft operator now secures torches in all its aircraft with the addition of a quick release strap on the torch container.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 336KB]
General details
Date: 04 September 2007   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 2120 EST   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 130km SE Mackay Aerodrome    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Loss of control  
Release date: 23 June 2008   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Aero Commander  
Aircraft model 500  
Aircraft registration VH-YJR  
Serial number 3231  
Type of operation Aerial Work  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Departure point Mackay, QLD  
Departure time 2051 EST  
Destination Thangool, QLD  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command ATPL 1157 2516
Last update 03 April 2020