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On 11 September 2016, at about 1000 Eastern Standard Time, a Jabiru SP500 aircraft registered 19-5503, departed Caboolture Airfield, Queensland (Qld), for a flight to Boonah Airfield, Qld. The pilot was the only person on board.

As the aircraft approached Boonah Airfield, the pilot observed large white crosses on the runway indicating the airfield was closed. The pilot elected to return to Caboolture and applied engine power to climb to cruise altitude.

At about 1055, the aircraft climbed to the north of Boonah. At a height of about 1,000 ft above ground level, the pilot noticed the engine RPM reducing and applied full throttle. At the same time, the pilot observed a low and fluctuating engine oil pressure indication. Within seconds, the engine failed and the propeller stopped rotating.

The pilot identified a paddock to the north of their position as suitable for a forced landing. They manoeuvred the aircraft to conduct a forced landing into the paddock. The pilot ensured that turns made during the forced landing were not tight and of low bank angle to avoid an aerodynamic stall. Late in the ground roll, the nose wheel dug into the soft surface, the aircraft tipped onto its nose and the right wingtip struck the ground. The aircraft then stopped and settled onto its wheels. The pilot was not injured and the aircraft sustained minor damage.

This incident is a good example of the effect an in-flight engine failure at a low altitude has on the time available to manage that failure and identify a suitable forced landing area. 


Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 55

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General details
Date: 11 September 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 10:55 EST  
Location   (show map):Boonah (ALA), north 14 km Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction 
Release date: 14 December 2016 Occurrence class: Technical 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Jabiru Aircraft Pty Ltd 
Aircraft model: SP500 
Aircraft registration: 19-5503 
Serial number: 504 
Type of operation: Private 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Minor 
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Last update 14 November 2018