Aviation safety investigations & reports

Low fuel and precautionary landing involving Cessna 172, VH-WKB, 30 km N of Broome Airport, WA, on 1 August 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

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On 1 August 2016, at about 0830 Western Standard Time, a Cessna 172 aircraft, registered VH-WKB, departed from Cape Leveque ALA, Western Australia. The pilot (owner) and one passenger were on board the private flight.

Prior to departure, the pilot had checked the amount of fuel in the aircraft’s fuel tanks with a dipstick and estimated there was about 50 litres of fuel remaining. The pilot planned a one hour coastal sightseeing flight to Broome, using a five knot headwind component, at a fuel flow of 35 litres per hour.

About one hour and five minutes into the flight, the pilot heard the engine make a ‘bit of a cough’ and noticed the fuel gauges were indicating empty. The pilot identified a clear section of straight road ahead, broadcast a MAYDAY call and landed the aircraft on the Manari road, about 30 km north of Broome airport. There were no injuries and the aircraft was not damaged.

The pilot had not realised that shortly after departure, the headwind component had increased and the actual fuel consumption was greater than planned. This serious incident highlights how several factors, which on their own were not critical, combined on the day to result in a critical situation for the pilot.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 53

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General details
Date: 01 August 2016   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0950 WST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 30 km N of Broome    
State: Western Australia   Occurrence type: Low fuel  
Release date: 14 October 2016   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 172H  
Aircraft registration VH-WKB  
Serial number 17256002  
Type of operation General Aviation-Unknown  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Unknown  
Last update 14 November 2018