On 28 March 2014, the aircraft departed Numbulwar, Northern Territory on climb to a planned cruising altitude of 4,500 ft above mean sea level (AMSL). When about 22 NM west of Numbulwar, the passenger felt a bump and detected smoke emanating from the floor area beside the pilot. The pilot broadcast a ‘MAYDAY’ call on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) advising of an engine failure and also that there were no roads in sight on which to conduct a forced landing, only trees.

The pilot of HGZ then asked the passenger to retrieve the fire extinguisher, which the passenger passed to the pilot. The passenger reported that the smoke stopped very quickly. The aircraft descended and the pilot retrieved the portable emergency locator transmitter (ELT) from the front compartment, extended the antenna and activated it. The pilot advised the passenger to brace for landing.

The passenger reported that the aircraft landed heavily, skidded, and collided with two trees prior to coming to rest at an angle, but upright. The passenger quickly undid the seatbelt and exited the aircraft through the open right door, assisting the pilot out of the aircraft.

The passenger and the pilot moved about 10 m from the aircraft, prior to multiple explosions occurring. Both sustained serious injuries and the aircraft was destroyed.

An initial engineering inspection found that a broken connecting rod was the most likely cause of the engine failure.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 31