Aviation safety investigations & reports

Fuel exhaustion and forced landing involving Beech 58, VH-PBU, 6 km N of Normanton Airport, Queensland, 26 June 2017

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

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On the morning of 15 June 2017, the pilot of a Beech 58 aircraft, registered VH-PBU, operated by Savannah Aviation, contacted a refueller at Mount Isa Airport, Queensland (Qld) and requested 400 L of fuel be added to the aircraft. The refueller attended the aircraft and provided 200 L of fuel, however the refueller recorded the amount provided as 400 L.

At the end of the day, the refueller totalled the daily fuel delivery quantities and detected a 200 L discrepancy between the recorded deliveries and the meter readings. The refueller identified that the discrepancy was due to an error in the refuelling of VH-PBU. The refueller immediately went to the aircraft to notify the pilot of the error, however the refueller was not able to locate the pilot. The refueller was then distracted by a phone call and forgot about the refuelling error.

On the morning of 26 June 2017, another pilot prepared to conduct a ferry flight in the aircraft from Burketown to Normanton Airport, Qld. At about 0815 Eastern Standard Time, the flight departed Burketown, the pilot was the only person on board. The take-off and climb were uneventful.

About 5 NM north of Normanton, both engines failed. The pilot conducted a forced landing in a paddock. During the landing roll the aircraft impacted a number of bushes.

The pilot was not injured during the incident, however, the aircraft sustained substantial damage.

This incident underlines the importance of communication once an error has been discovered. The refuelling error was discovered 11 days prior to the incident flight, however, this was not communicated to the operator or pilots. Knowledge of the error would have enabled the pilots to correct the fuel log and avoid the incident.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 62


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General details
Date: 26 June 2017   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 8:10 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 6 km N of Normanton Airport    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Fuel exhaustion  
Release date: 05 September 2017   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Beech Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model 58  
Aircraft registration VH-PBU  
Serial number TH-407  
Operator Savannah Aviation  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Burketown, Qld  
Destination Normanton, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018