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Final Report

Summary

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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