On 21 October 2015, a Gippsland Aeronautics GA-8 aircraft, registered VH-FGN (FGN), was conducting parachute operations at Busselton Airport, Western Australia.

At about 1500 Western Standard Time, FGN took off with a pilot and seven parachutists on board. As the aircraft climbed through about 2,000 ft, the pilot observed a decrease in the engine manifold pressure. The fuel flow also increased significantly. As the aircraft was tracking south towards forested terrain, the pilot elected to turn back towards the aerodrome, and continue the climb, in case the engine issue worsened. The pilot conducted the standard engine checks, but the engine continued to produce only partial power.

The pilot advised the parachutists that they would establish the aircraft in the drop run overhead the aerodrome at about 4,000 ft. As the pilot subsequently reduced the power to allow the parachutists to exit the aircraft, the engine ran roughly. Six of the parachutists exited normally and landed safely at the drop zone, while the seventh, who was also a company pilot and seated in the front passenger seat, remained in the aircraft with the pilot in command.

The pilot then continued the descent to the aerodrome. The pilot advised ATC that they did not require immediate assistance and broadcast a PAN call, as the engine continued to produce some power. The aircraft landed safely at Busselton at about 1514.

After shutting down the engine, the pilot consulted with the maintainer, and found that the intake tube on the No. 4 cylinder was loose. 

This incident highlights the importance of having thoroughly rehearsed emergency procedures, particularly for parachute operations.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin Issue 46

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