Aviation safety investigations & reports

Ground handling accident involving Cessna 172RG, VH-MKG, Parafield Airport, SA on 11 September 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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What happened

On 11 September 2016, the pilot of a Cessna 172RG, registered VH-MKG (MKG), was observed moving the aircraft out of a hangar at Parafield Airport. The aircraft was positioned on the apron in front of this hangar. The pilot then hand swung the propeller to start the engine, with no one at the aircraft controls. Following the hand start, the uncontrolled aircraft taxied a short distance before colliding with a parked Piper PA-32 Saratoga. Although not struck directly by the propeller, the pilot was fatally injured either by being struck by the aircraft or in the subsequent fall as the aircraft taxied away. The pilot's dog was unsecured in the aircraft.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the battery installed in MKG had insufficient charge to start the engine, and that the pilot started the engine by hand swinging the propeller. The aircraft was not adequately secured during the hand start, resulting in fatal injuries to the pilot and damage to another aircraft when it taxied without pilot control.

Safety message

Hand swinging an aircraft propeller is recognised across the aviation industry as a hazardous procedure. Although hand swinging is permitted under the civil aviation regulations, it should only be undertaken when no other alternatives exist to start the aircraft engine and all necessary precautions have been taken to mitigate the hazards.

Additionally, unrestrained animals in the aircraft cabin have the potential to adversely affect safety during aircraft operations.

Final position of VH-MKG against the Saratoga


Final position of VH-MKG against the Saratoga

Source: ATSB

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The occurrence

Safety analysis


Sources and submissions


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General details
Date: 11 September 2016   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 16:06 CST   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Parafield Airport    
State: South Australia   Occurrence type: Aircraft Separation  
Release date: 24 February 2017   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 172RG  
Aircraft registration VH-MKG  
Serial number 172RG0795  
Type of operation General Aviation-Unknown  
Sector Piston  
Departure point Parafield, SA  
Last update 14 November 2018