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On 15 November 2016, at about 1150 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, a Ryan STA-SPL aircraft, registered VH-SQD, departed from Tyabb aircraft landing area, Victoria, for a private local pleasure flight. The pilot was the sole occupant of the aircraft.

About 10 minutes after take-off, when at about 1,000 ft above mean sea level, the aircraft’s engine suddenly stopped, then briefly restarted and then stopped again. The pilot conducted a forced landing into a field. The aircraft landed heavily and with a tailwind, and the pilot assessed that the aircraft may not slow down sufficiently before a fence up ahead. The pilot therefore used the available airspeed to take-off again and fly the aircraft about 15 ft over the fence. The pilot aimed the aircraft’s wing at a tree to reduce the remaining speed and ensure it stopped prior to a major freeway. The aircraft collided with the tree, then the ground and was substantially damaged. The pilot sustained a minor injury.

The engine probably failed due to carburettor icing, at relatively low level and with few options for the pilot to safely conduct a forced landing.

It is essential to have a plan and practise simulated forced landings to assist in reducing the consequences of conducting one in the event of engine failure. The height above ground at which an engine failure occurs affects the time available to complete failure management checks and select an appropriate landing site.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 56

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General details
Date: 15 November 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 12:00 ESuT  
Location   (show map):14 km NNW of Tyabb ALA Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction 
Release date: 17 January 2017 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Ryan Aeronautical Corp 
Aircraft model: STA-SPL 
Aircraft registration: VH-SQD 
Serial number: 193 
Type of operation: General Aviation-Unknown 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Tyabb, Vic.
Destination:Point Cook, Vic.
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Last update 18 April 2017