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On 22 September 2012, a Piper PA-32 aircraft, registered VH-FAJ, was being operated on a private flight had an engine failure, 3 minutes after changing the fuel selection to the right tip fuel tank. The pilot changed the fuel selection back and conducted a forced landing. During the forced landing, the aircraft impacted two fences and sustained serious damage. The pilot and passenger were uninjured.

The aircraft had been stored in a hanger for nine months prior to the accident. An inspection of the aircraft wreckage found evidence of water in the right tip tank and airframe fuel filter bowl.

While the pilot stated that he conducted a thorough pre-flight inspection he considered that it was possible that he did not notice the water in the right tip tank fuel sample.

It is important that the testing of fuel drainage samples for water contamination are positive in nature and do not rely exclusively on the sensory perceptions of colour and smell, both of which can be unreliable.

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin – Issue 14

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General details
Date: 22 September 2012 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1200 EST  
Location   (show map):near Yea Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction 
Release date: 20 December 2012 Occurrence class: Technical 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Piper Aircraft Corp 
Aircraft model: PA-32 
Aircraft registration: VH-FAJ 
Serial number: 32-866 
Type of operation: Private 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Murrindindi, VIC
Destination:Murrindindi, VIC
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Last update 18 April 2018