Aviation safety investigations & reports

Engine failure - Piper PA-28-181, VH-NRF, near Bankstown Airport NSW, 9 February 2011

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 9 February 2011, a Piper PA-28-181 (Archer) aircraft, registered VH-NRF, departed Ballina on a private flight to Bankstown, New South Wales.

During the flight, the pilot noted the tachometer fluctuating. After consultation with the operator, it was determined that this was an indication problem and the flight was continued.

When the aircraft was about 8 km NE of Bankstown at 1,200 ft, the engine lost power. The pilot commenced the engine failure response actions and elected to land on a street. During the landing the aircraft collided with powerlines and a power pole. The pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries.

It was considered that the engine failed as a result of fuel starvation. The reason for the tachometer fluctuation was not identified.

The operator conducted an investigation and considered that, as no apparent fuel leaks were found, the aircraft may have experienced excessive fuel burn.

As a result of this accident, the aircraft operator issued an internal circular to all instructors to emphasise to students the importance of fuel tank selection changes when responding to an engine failure; amended their operations manual with regard to fuel mixture leaning, and the use of fuel gauges and calibration cards; included the recording of fuel uplifted at the end of each flight so that accurate fuel flow calculations can be conducted; and a student pilot meeting was held to highlight this accident and the changes to the operations manual.

This accident highlights the risks associated with operating an aircraft that has different procedures from that previously familiar with and the importance of having accurate knowledge of the aircraft's fuel usage.

Download Final Report - Bulletin
[Download  PDF: 5.43MB]
General details
Date: 09 February 2011   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1232 ESuT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Bankstown Airport, south-west 8Km    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction  
Release date: 12 December 2011   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-28  
Aircraft registration VH-NRF  
Serial number 28-8290112  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Departure point Ballina, NSW  
Destination Bankstown, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018