On 10 July 2010, a Cessna Aircraft Company 210L aircraft, registered VH-FTM, was returning to Darwin aerodrome, Northern Territory (NT) after completing a scenic charter flight around the Katherine and Kakadu, NT areas.
During the approach, the pilot reported that the
aircraft 'went quiet' and the engine revolutions per minute (RPM)
decreased. The pilot initiated the
in-flight engine failure procedure, but the engine did not respond. After assessing the situation, the pilot determined that a landing at Darwin was not achievable and elected to land the aircraft on Casuarina Beach, NT. During the landing, the nose wheel separated from the aircraft. The pilot and five passengers exited the aircraft uninjured.
While a subsequent engineering examination and operational test of the aircraft's engine and fuel system was unable to determine the cause of the failure, the operator advised the ATSB that fuel vaporisation could have been a possible factor. As a precaution, the operator's pilots will be briefed on the in-flight restart procedure for fuel vaporisation.
This incident highlights the importance of knowing an aircraft's performance limitations and selecting an appropriate landing area within the gliding distance of the aircraft.