On 31 October 2010, a Cessna Aircraft Company TU206C, registered VH-EAL (EAL), was being operated on a parachute flight overhead the South Grafton aeroplane landing area (ALA), New South Wales.
Just prior to the parachute drop, the pilot heard broadcasts from an aircraft on the ground at South Grafton and an inbound aircraft. The pilot of EAL requested that both aircraft remain clear of the drop zone. After the parachute drop was completed, the pilot descended the aircraft and continued to converse with the pilots of the other aircraft until the parachutists were on the ground.
The aircraft joined the circuit on crosswind for runway 08. Due to a preceding aircraft, the pilot of slowed the aircraft down and conducted a wider circuit. The aircraft was turned onto final and shortly after, the engine went quiet. The pilot changed the fuel tank selection and applied full throttle, but the engine did not respond. The aircraft landed about 300 m from the runway and sustained serious damage.
The pilot reported that he had been distracted by the other aircraft operating in the area at the time and did not change the fuel tank selection during the descent or on downwind, as per his normal procedure.
Pilot distractions occur frequently; some can be minimised or removed, while others cannot be avoided. This accident is a prime example of how distractions impact aircraft operations and a reminder that distractions are not unique to any one type of operation and that no pilot is immune.