At about 1710 on 27 January 2012, a De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd DH-82A Tiger Moth aircraft, registered VH-GVA, took off from Maryborough Airport, Victoria, with two people on board.
Immediately after lift-off, the aircraft was observed to have a partial, intermittent power loss. The pilot continued the flight with the aircraft maintaining altitude or climbing slightly. At the upwind end of the runway, the aircraft made a climbing left turn before stalling and descending. The aircraft impacted the ground and the occupants received fatal injuries.
The aircraft was seriously damaged by the accident forces and post-impact fire.
What the ATSB found
The partial engine power loss was probably a result of a partial blockage of the aircraft’s fuel cock. Although sufficient runway remained ahead to allow a safe landing, the flight was continued under limited power without gaining sufficient height to clear trees beyond the runway. Approaching the trees the aircraft climbed, lost airspeed, stalled and collided with terrain. There would have been a safer outcome had the pilot immediately landed the aircraft straight ahead.
This accident illustrates several of the points made in the ATSB’s research report AR-2010-055, Managing partial power loss after takeoff in single-engine aircraft. In particular, pilots are reminded that continued power in such circumstances is unpredictable and risk can be reduced by conducting a controlled landing at the earliest opportunity.