Aviation safety investigations & reports

Fuel exhaustion event involving a Cessna 182, VH-DNZ, at Adelaide, South Australia on 2 October 2015

Investigation number:
AO-2015-115
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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On 2 October 2015, the pilot of a Cessna 182 aircraft, registered VH-DNZ (DNZ), was tasked to conduct parachute operations. The pilot planned to depart from Parafield Airport, and drop parachutists to land at Victoria Park, Adelaide, before returning to land at Parafield, South Australia.

The target landing zone for the parachutists was Victoria Park, which would require the pilots to obtain a clearance from Adelaide air traffic control (ATC) to enter Adelaide control zone.

At about 1331, DNZ departed from Parafield with the pilot, four parachutists, and 110 L of fuel on board. The aircraft tracked outside controlled airspace, and at about 1340, ATC cleared the pilot of DNZ to track to overhead Mt Lofty at 3,500 ft, where the pilot then conducted orbits. At about 1406, after completing seven orbits, ATC advised the pilot to expect a 30-minute delay.

At about 1420, the engine ran roughly. The pilot abandoned the parachute drop and requested a clearance to track directly to Parafield, due to fuel. The rough running then got worse, so the pilot requested a landing at Adelaide Airport.

At about 1425, the approach controller cleared the pilot of DNZ to descend to 2,000 ft and then for a visual approach to left base for runway 23. Just then, the engine stopped. The pilot made a MAYDAY call, and conducted a forced landing at Victoria Park. The aircraft landed very heavily and two of the parachutists were ejected from the aircraft during the impact. Two parachutists sustained serious injuries, and two were uninjured. The pilot sustained minor injuries and the aircraft was substantially damaged.

Pilots are reminded of the importance of careful attention to aircraft fuel state. ATSB Research report Avoidable accidents No. 5 Starved and exhausted: Fuel management aviation accidents, discusses issues surrounding fuel management and provides some insight into fuel related aviation accidents.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 48

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General details
Date: 02 October 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1430 CST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Adelaide Airport 8 km east    
State: South Australia   Occurrence type: Fuel exhaustion  
Release date: 28 January 2016   Occurrence class: Operational  
Report status: Final   Occurrence category: Accident  
  Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 182H  
Aircraft registration VH-DNZ  
Serial number 18256174  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Parafield, SA  
Destination Parafield, SA  
Last update 14 November 2018