Aviation safety investigations & reports

Engine failure - Aero Commander, 500-S, VH-WZI, Bloomfield River (ALA), South 20 Km, 3 March 2011

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 3 March 2011, an Aero Commander 500-S aircraft, registered VH-WZI, departed Horn Island for Cairns, Queensland on a charter flight with one pilot on board. The purpose of the flight was to transport live crayfish.

The aircraft was about 56 NM (104 km) north of Cairns when the pilot reduced the power to slow the aircraft for operational reasons. Following the reduction in power, the pilot observed a reduction in performance in the right engine, which he believed was due to a fuel blockage.

The pilot was unable to clear the blockage and declared a mayday. He elected to descend towards the coast line away from high terrain as the aircraft was unable to maintain height. The right engine was shut down and the right propeller feathered after the aircraft was clear of high terrain. The aircraft was diverted to Bloomfield River aeroplane landing area.

As a result of this incident, the operator advised the ATSB that they have amended their planned flight route from Horn Island to Cairns, with aircraft now required to track via Cooktown to remain clear of high terrain. The operator also informed all of their safety critical personnel about the incident, and has ensured they are aware of fuel blockage issues with the Aero Commander.

Download Final Report - Bulletin
[Download  PDF: 5.43MB]
General details
Date: 03 March 2011   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1957 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Bloomfield River (ALA), 20 km South    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction  
Release date: 12 December 2011   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Aero Commander  
Aircraft model 500  
Aircraft registration VH-WZI  
Serial number 1856-38  
Type of operation Charter  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Horn Island, Qld  
Destination Cairns, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018