Final Report


At about 1344 Eastern Standard Time (EST), on 21 July 2016, a Piper PA-28-161 aircraft, registered VH-TAK (TAK), departed from runway 29 Left (29L) at Bankstown Airport, New South Wales, for a post-maintenance test flight. On board the aircraft were a pilot, an engineer from the maintenance provider and a passenger.

As the aircraft climbed through about 300 ft above ground level (AGL), the pilot observed a slight loss of power produced by the engine. At a height of about 400 ft, the power loss increased. The pilot made a right turn to attempt to return to Bankstown Airport. At an altitude of about 200 ft, the pilot assessed that the engine was not producing sufficient power to fly to the runway. The pilot observed a clear area within a golf course and manoeuvred to land in that area.

The aircraft landed in a small lake on the golf course. After the aircraft stopped, the occupants immediately exited through the door on the right side. The pilot and occupants were uninjured and the aircraft was substantially damaged.

Partial engine power loss is more frequent and more complex than complete engine power loss. A partial engine power loss presents the pilot with more options than a complete power loss. The remaining power may also be inconsistent and unreliable.

The ATSB publication Avoidable Accidents No. 3 – Managing partial power loss after take-off in single-engine aircraft, provides information to assist pilots to prepare for a partial or complete engine power loss after take-off.

Pilots can significantly reduce risk following a partial or complete engine power loss using the following strategies:

  • pre-flight decision making and planning for emergencies and abnormal situations for the particular aerodrome
  • conducting a thorough pre-flight inspection and engine ground run to reduce the risk of a partial power loss occurring
  • taking positive action and maintaining aircraft control either when turning back to the aerodrome or conducting a forced landing.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 53


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