Aviation safety investigations & reports

Fuel starvation - ZK-JAO, 19 km E of South West Rocks NSW, 14 February 2010

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 14 February 2010, the pilot of a Cessna Aircraft Company TU206C (C206), registered ZK-JAO, was being operated on a private ferry flight under the
visual flight rules (VFR) from Lord Howe Island, New South Wales (NSW) to Coolangatta, Queensland (Qld) via Port Macquarie, NSW. Those sectors comprised the final stage of the ferry flight, which had originated from New Zealand. The pilot was the only person on board the aircraft.

The pilot reported that he had experienced intermittent ferry tank fuel flow problems during the flight from Lord Howe Island, NSW to mainland Australia. The pilot consequently selected the aircraft's main fuel tanks to ensure a reliable supply of fuel to the engine. At approximately 19 km east of South West Rocks, NSW, when the fuel was exhausted from the aircraft's main fuel tanks, the pilot selected fuel from the ferry tank, but was unable to restart the engine. The fuel flow from the ferry tank had been disrupted and the remaining 300 L in that tank was unable to be accessed. The pilot conducted a successful forced landing at an airstrip in the vicinity of South West Rocks, NSW. There was no reported damage to the aircraft or injuries to the occupant.

The reason why the ferry tank's fuel flow was disrupted could not be established; however, the pilot stated it was likely that an air pocket somewhere in the fuel system between the ferry tank and the aircraft's main fuel lines starved the engine of fuel.

The pilot had installed the ferry tank in New Zealand without the appropriate regulatory authorisations and qualifications to do so.

Although there was no evidence as to whether the installation of the ferry tank played a role in the incident; it is a reminder that approved modifications, carried out by appropriately qualified and licensed people are likely to reduce risk.

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General details
Date: 14 February 2010   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1443 EDT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 19 km E of South West Rocks    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Fuel starvation  
Release date: 29 June 2010   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 206  
Aircraft registration ZK-JAO  
Serial number U206-1218  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Lord Howe Island, NSW  
Destination Gold Coast, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018