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On 12 May 2017, a Cessna 210M aircraft, registered VH-EGB, departed Broome, Western Australia (WA) on a freight charter flight with the intended destination of Fitzroy Crossing, WA. 

About one hour into the flight, at about 1027 Western Standard Time (WST), the pilot noticed on the engine data monitor that the fuel flow was fluctuating between 40 and 65 litres per hour. The pilot enriched the fuel mixture to see if that would stabilise the fuel flow, but the fluctuations continued.

The pilot then completed the fuel vaporisation checklist and switched the selected fuel tank from the right to the left. When the pilot selected the fuel pump on, in accordance with the checklist, the fuel flow initially indicated a rise, then stabilised to normal.

About 20 seconds later, the engine surged and then stopped, but the propeller was still turning. The engine RPM and fuel flow reduced to zero. At that time, the aircraft was 25 to 30 NM beyond Liveringa, so the pilot turned towards that airfield.

The pilot then conducted the engine restart procedure. The engine restarted, but was surging and not producing enough power to maintain level flight. The pilot broadcast a Mayday call and reduced the power to just above idle, where it was running the smoothest. The pilot conducted a straight-in approach for runway 25 at Liveringa, maintaining additional height (to a normal approach) in case the engine stopped completely, requiring a glide approach and landing.  

The aircraft landed without further incident.

The ATSB found that the fuel vent system was probably partially or fully blocked, resulting in fuel flow fluctuations and the engine probably stopped due to over-rich fuel mixture.

This incident highlights the importance of good decision making following an engine failure or malfunction.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 62

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General details
Date: 12 May 2017 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 10:30 WST  
Location   (show map):near Liveringa (ALA) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Western Australia Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction 
Release date: 05 September 2017 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft Company 
Aircraft model: 210M 
Aircraft registration: VH-EGB 
Serial number: 21062858 
Type of operation: Charter 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Broome, WA
Destination:Fitzroy Falls, WA
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Last update 11 July 2018