Aviation safety investigations & reports

Fuel drum contamination, near Cloncurry Aerodrome, Queensland on 7 September 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Active
Investigation in progress


Updated: 6 September 2019

The investigation into the fuel drum contamination near Cloncurry Aerodrome, Queensland on 7 September 2016 is continuing.

The investigation is currently in the examination and analysis phase. During this phase, evidence is reviewed and evaluated to determine its relevance, validity, credibility and relationship to other evidence and to the occurrence.

ATSB investigators are examining a range of topics, including the:

  • nature of the contaminant, including any effect on the stored fuel
  • effectiveness of pump and aircraft filtration,
  • procedures for manufacturing and inspecting the drums
  • effects of transporting and handling the drums.

Once the evidence analysis phase is complete, a final report will be drafted and undergo a rigorous internal review to ensure the report findings adequately and accurately reflect the analysis of available evidence. Final investigation reports also undergo other technical and administrative reviews to ensure the reports meet national and international standards for transport safety investigations.

Following the completion of the internal review, a draft of the final report will be sent to all directly involved parties for their comment before the report is finalised and published.

Currently, the anticipated completion and publication release date of the final report is during the fourth quarter of 2019. However, should any safety issues be identified during any phase of this investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify those affected and seek safety action to address the issue.



Initial summary:

The ATSB is investigating multiple fuel contamination reports, with the most recent occurrences in Cloncurry, Queensland, in September and October, 2016.

During routine inspections, flight crew detected foreign debris in fuel drums. Subsequently, additional drums were inspected and further contamination was discovered.

As part of the investigation, the ATSB will attempt to determine the origin of the contamination in order to prevent reoccurrence in the future.

General details
Date: 07 September 2016   Investigation status: Active  
Time: 0800 EST   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): near Cloncurry Aerodrome (Grenada Station)   Investigation phase: Examination and analysis  
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Fuel contamination  
Release date: 06 September 2019   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Pending   Highest injury level: None  
Anticipated completion: 1st Quarter 2020    

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Eurocopter  
Aircraft model AS.350B3  
Aircraft registration VH-VTN  
Serial number 4527  
Type of operation General Aviation  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Cloncurry, Qld  
Destination Unknown  
Last update 14 November 2019