On 14 August 2013, at about 0830 Central Standard Time, the pilot of a Beech BE58 aircraft, registered VH‑ECL, was preparing for a charter flight from Tindal to the Borroloola aeroplane landing area (ALA), Northern Territory.

Using the operator’s elected fuel flow rate for the aircraft of 125 L/hr, the pilot calculated that a minimum of 545 L of fuel was required. The pilot elected to carry 570 L. In preparation for the flight, the pilot referenced the flight data log, which indicated that about 267 L of fuel was on board the aircraft. Consequently, the pilot refuelled the aircraft, adding about 153 L into each of the main fuel tanks. The pilot then conducted fuel drains and found no contaminants present.

During the cruise, the pilot observed the fuel quantity gauge for the right main fuel tank reading zero, but the fuel flow, and engine temperature and pressure indications were normal. The aircraft landed at Borroloola and the passengers disembarked. The pilot re‑checked the fuel calculations and determined that there was sufficient fuel on board for the return trip. The pilot noted that the right fuel quantity gauge was still reading zero and the fuel quantity gauge for the left main tank was indicating about three-quarters full.

On the return flight, when about 50-60 NM from Tindal, the right fuel flow gauge dropped to zero. The pilot shut down the right engine, notified air traffic control and conducted a single-engine landing at Tindal.

This incident highlights the importance of establishing known fuel status regularly and the need to use multiple sources to determine fuel quantity. This is particularly important for determining accurate fuel flow rate calculations and when the fuel quantity on board can only be accurately determined when the fuel tanks are full.

Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 24