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On 25 July 2008 at 1033 Central Standard Time a Piper PA-31-350 (Chieftain) aircraft, registered VH-ZMK was being operated on a scheduled passenger flight from Darwin to Bathurst Island, Northern Territory (NT). Moments after takeoff, the right engine began to surge and shortly afterwards, the left engine also began to surge. The pilot declared an emergency and returned to the airfield, landing short of the runway.

The investigation was unable to reconcile the pilot's report that he had selected the inboard tanks before takeoff on the incident flight with the evidence of the fuel remaining in the inboard tanks afterwards. The engine surging and power loss could be explained by fuel starvation resulting from selection of the outboard tanks that contained minimal fuel.

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General details
Date: 25 July 2008 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1033 CST  
Location   (show map):Darwin aerodrome Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Northern Territory Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction 
Release date: 14 October 2010 Occurrence class: Technical 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Piper Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: PA-31 
Aircraft registration: VH-ZMK 
Serial number: 31-8152142 
Type of operation: Air Transport Low Capacity 
Damage to aircraft: Minor 
Departure point:Darwin NT
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Last update 14 November 2018