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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  
Location   (show map):Bloomfield River (ALA), 20 km South Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction 
Release date: 12 December 2011 Occurrence class: Technical 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
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
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Last update 01 March 2016