Aviation safety investigations & reports

Fuel starvation involving Piper Seneca, VH-BTW, 19 km S of Nowra Airport, NSW, 31 August 2012

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 31 August 2012, at about 1230 Eastern Standard Time, a Piper Seneca aircraft, registered VH-BTW (BTW) departed Hobart Airport, Tasmania for Bankstown Airport, New South Wales on a private flight under the instrument flight rules.  The pilot was the only person on board.    

Both engines stopped during cruise at 9,000 ft above mean sea level and 19 kilometres south of Nowra, New South Wales.  The pilot ascertained that the fuel selector for the right engine was in the cross-feed position and consequently both engines were drawing fuel from the left wing tank which was empty.  The pilot repositioned the fuel selector, was able to restart both engines and continued to Bankstown Airport. 

On landing at Bankstown, the aircraft had a significant lateral imbalance, as the left wing tank was empty and the right wing tank was almost full.  As a result, the aircraft departed the runway after landing.  The pilot regained control and the aircraft taxied to the parking area without further incident.  The aircraft was not damaged and the pilot was not injured.   

The incident highlights the importance of checklists in capturing errors made before and during flight and the need to conduct them diligently during all stages of flight. 

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin – Issue 14

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 212KB]
Alternate: [Download  DOC: 243KB]
General details
Date: 31 August 2012   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1230 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 19 km S of Nowra Airport    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Fuel starvation  
Release date: 20 December 2012   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-34  
Aircraft registration VH-BTW  
Serial number 34-7450107  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Hobart, TAS  
Destination Bankstown, NSW  
Last update 14 November 2018