On 14 November 2014, at about 1230 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, a de Havilland Canada DHC-1 aircraft, registered VH RVY (RVY), departed from Luskintyre Airfield, New South Wales, for a post-maintenance flight with the pilot and one passenger on board.

After about 10 minutes of straight and level flight, as well as climbs and descents, with no fluctuations in the engine RPM, the pilot commenced some gentle aerobatics.

As the aircraft was exiting the bottom of a modified loop manoeuvre, at around 140 kt indicated airspeed, without warning the engine began to over speed. The pilot reduced the engine power and commenced trouble shooting the problem.

The pilot joined downwind for a landing on runway 30, noting the groundspeed was around 150 to 160 kt. While on downwind, the pilot advanced the throttle lever and noted that at about 1/3 lever movement the engine speed was at about 3,000 RPM (maximum continuous RPM at sea level pressure altitude is 2,700). Despite the engine speed, the aircraft was not able to maintain altitude. In an attempt to ‘get back’ to the airfield the pilot turned from a slightly extended downwind onto a ‘base leg’. As the aircraft turned, the engine stopped producing power. The pilot unsuccessfully attempted to restart the engine.

At about 500 ft AGL, the pilot determined that they would not make the runway, so he elected to land in a paddock about 500 m east of the airfield. During this manoeuvre the right wing stalled and dropped slightly. The pilot flared the aircraft in preparation for landing and noted airframe buffeting, with little to no response from the elevator. The aircraft landed heavily, travelling through an electric fence before the aircraft stopped on a drive way just short of the selected landing area.

The pilot and passenger sustained serious injuries and the aircraft was substantially damaged. The cause of the engine failure could not be conclusively determined but may have been due to oil pressure issues.

Pilots should consider the effect an in-flight engine failure at different altitudes and in the given conditions can have on the options available to manage that failure and to identify a suitable forced landing area.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 42

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