On the morning of 23 November 2012, the pilot of a Piper Cherokee Six, registered VH-TSZ, with two other owner-pilots on board, took off from runway 24L at Jandakot Airport, Western Australia. After turning onto the track to Beverley and at about 700 ft above ground level, the engine lost power. The pilot immediately turned the aircraft towards runway 30 and focussed on flying the aircraft while the owner-pilot in the copilot seat conducted some of the troubleshooting checks. The engine did not regain power.
With insufficient height and speed to reach the runway, the pilot force landed the aircraft into wooded bushland within the airport precinct, approximately 150 m short of a cleared area in the undershoot of runway 30. The aircraft was substantially damaged by impact with trees. The occupants exited the aircraft with only a minor injury to one passenger.
What the ATSB found
The ATSB found no mechanical defects or fuel supply anomalies that would have prevented normal engine operation. The evidence for carburettor icing was equivocal and therefore, could not be ruled out as a contributing factor. No other likely contributing factors were identified.
It was also found that the pilot did not ensure all of the available procedures for an engine power loss and power-off landing were followed, which resulted in reduced gliding performance and a higher-than-necessary landing speed.
The pilot had not completed a flight review in the 2 years prior to the occurrence, increasing the operational risks including the response to emergency situations.
The conduct of emergency procedures relies on the application of established knowledge and skills, reinforced by the use of a pre-take-off emergency briefing, and conduct of flight reviews. By not complying with the periodic flight review requirements, the pilot missed an opportunity to maintain those critical skills.