Aviation safety investigations & reports

Total power loss - Gippsland Aeronautics GA-8, VH-FCK, Ti Tree, NT, 6 July 2012

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 6 July 2012, a Gippsland Aeronautics GA-8 Airvan aircraft, registered VH-FCK, departed Tennant Creek on a night training flight to Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

When in the cruise, the crew noticed that the engine oil pressure indication was dropping and, as a result, they began planning for a diversion to the Ti Tree aeroplane landing area (ALA). Soon after, the engine oil pressure light illuminated, necessitating an immediate landing. The crew then diverted to the ALA and attempted to activate the runway pilot activated lighting (PAL), without success.

When abeam the township of Ti Tree, the engine began to run rough and subsequently failed.  The crew then noticed a vehicle travelling on a road to the north of the town. They elected to abandon the landing at the unlit ALA, and following the vehicle’s lights, carried out a successful landing onto the Stuart Highway, 4 km north of the township.

The engine was removed from the aircraft and the assessment at the time of writing this report was that the failure was a result of a No. 6 connecting rod, big end cap bolt failure.

One of the greatest concerns for pilots operating single-engine aircraft is the prospect of a total power loss at night. Should such an event occur, it is crucial that pilots are mentally prepared to act immediately. This incident demonstrates how responding to an adverse situation promptly can result in a positive outcome.

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 12

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 348KB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 699KB]
General details
Date: 06 July 2012   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 2010 CST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Ti Tree    
State: Northern Territory   Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction  
Release date: 29 October 2012   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Gippsland Aeronautics Pty Ltd  
Aircraft model GA8  
Aircraft registration VH-FCK  
Serial number GA8-03-040  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Tennant Creek,NT  
Destination Alice Springs, NT  
Last update 14 November 2018