Aviation safety investigations & reports

Fuel exhaustion - Cessna 172, VH-PHV, near Dairy Creek, WA, 25 Octobter 2011

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 25 October 2011, a Cessna Company Aircraft 172, registered VH-PHV, departed Dairy Creek Aeroplane Landing Area (ALA), Western Australia for a private local area flight. The pilot was the sole occupant of the aircraft.

The flight was conducted to inspect a number of paddocks on Bidgemia Station, about 35 minutes flight time from Dairy Creek ALA. Prior to departure the pilot determined there was 80 litres total fuel on-board and then used an estimate of 30 litres/hour for fuel burn calculations.

Once reaching the paddocks, the pilot conducted land and cattle inspections for about 2 hours and 40 minutes before the engine failed due to fuel exhaustion. The pilot conducted a forced landing and the aircraft was seriously damaged after impacting with trees, however the pilot was not injured.

The pilot stated that he did not conduct a formal fuel plan prior to the flight. During the latter stages of the flight, the pilot experienced a higher workload and forgot to return to a landing area to refuel.

This accident highlights the vital importance of pre-flight planning. Pilots should ensure that every flight is appropriately planned with accurate flight times and fuel calculations. CASA recommends private, visual flight rules flights should plan for 45 minutes of fixed fuel reserves.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 3.63MB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 9.81MB]
General details
Date: 25 October 2011   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1230 WST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): near Dairy Creek    
State: Western Australia   Occurrence type: Fuel exhaustion  
Release date: 24 May 2012   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 172  
Aircraft registration VH-PHV  
Serial number 46069  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Last update 14 November 2018