On 8 March 2015, the pilot of an Aero Commander 500 aircraft, registered VH-WZV, taxied for a charter flight from Badu Island to Horn Island, Queensland, with five passengers. As the pilot lined the aircraft up on the centreline at the threshold of runway 30, he performed a pre-take-off safety brief and the pre-take-off checks. He then applied full power, released the brakes and commenced the take-off run. All engine indications were normal during the taxi and commencement of the take-off run.

The pilot commenced rotation and the nose and main landing gear lifted off the runway. Just as the main landing gear lifted off, the pilot detected a significant loss of power from the left engine. The aircraft yawed to the left, which the pilot counteracted with right rudder. He heard the left engine noise decrease noticeably and the aircraft dropped back onto the runway. The pilot immediately rejected the take-off; reduced the power to idle, and used rudder and brakes to maintain the runway centreline.

Due to the wet runway surface, the aircraft did not decelerate as quickly as expected and the pilot anticipated that the aircraft would overshoot the runway. To avoid a steep slope and trees beyond the end of the runway, he steered the aircraft to the right towards more open and level ground. The aircraft collided with a fence and a bush resulting in substantial damage. The pilot and passengers were not injured.

In this incident the pilot had identified the safest run-off area in the event of an engine failure. Having completed a thorough pre-take-off safety briefing, following partial engine failure, the pilot was able to steer the aircraft to a relatively clear area that he had earlier identified. This may have reduced the amount of damage the aircraft sustained, and the potential for injuries to the pilot and passengers.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 41


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