On 28 August 2013, a Fairchild SA227 aircraft, registered VH‑UUO, arrived at Brisbane Airport, Queensland. The pilot checked the fuel quantity after landing and advised engineering staff that the fuel tanks were out of balance and the left fuel quantity gauge was unserviceable. The unserviceability was recorded on the aircraft maintenance log.

The pilot and engineers rebalanced the fuel tanks in accordance with company procedures. They also refuelled the aircraft for the subsequent flight to Bankstown, New South Wales. The pilot then concluded his duty for the day.

The pilot of the next flight was enroute to Brisbane Airport when he contacted operations staff requesting an additional 200 L of fuel be uploaded due to the forecast weather at Bankstown. Unaware that the previous pilot and engineers had corrected the imbalance, a staff member ordered the additional fuel as requested by the pilot. He requested that 150 L be put in the left tank and 50 L in the right to balance the fuel tanks. The extra 100 L of fuel was subsequently loaded into the incorrect tank, resulting in an estimated 200 L imbalance.

When the pilot arrived at Brisbane, he assessed that the previous pilot and engineers had established the fuel quantity, which complied with the minimum equipment list requirements. The pilot opened the cross-flow valve and the serviceable fuel gauge dropped and then stabilised. He believed that he had removed the fuel imbalance and that the aircraft was now in balance.

At about 0130, the aircraft departed Brisbane. During the initial climb, the pilot reported that the right wing dropped markedly but he was able to maintain control of the aircraft. The pilot raised the right wing and opened the fuel cross-flow valve to rebalance the aircraft. After about 2 minutes, the pilot reported that the aircraft was in trim and he closed the cross-flow valve.

During the approach to Bankstown, the aircraft handled normally until at about 400 ft above ground level, when the right wing dropped again when the final stage of flap was selected. The pilot raised the right wing and elected to continue the approach, landing without further incident.

This incident highlights the importance of thorough pre-flight preparation in particular with regard to fuel planning and loading.


Aviation Short Investigation Bulletin - Issue 26