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.