Aviation safety investigations & reports

Fuel exhaustion and forced landing involving Cessna 441, VH-LBY, 39 km East of Broome Airport, Western Australia, on 2 March 2018

Investigation number:
Status: Active
Investigation in progress


The ATSB is investigating a dual engine power loss and forced landing involving a Cessna 441, VH-LBY, at 39 km East of Broome Airport, Western Australia, on 2 March 2018.

During descent into Broome, the right engine began to surge followed shortly after by left engine surges. The pilot shut down the right engine and made a mayday call. Shortly after, the left engine lost power and the pilot conducted a forced landing without engine power on the Great Northern Highway. There was no damage to the aircraft. The pilot and passengers were not injured.

The aircraft was refuelled and flown without incident to Broome Airport. The aircraft was then examined by licenced aircraft maintenance engineers with the involvement of the ATSB and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.  

The preliminary investigation has established that the dual engine power loss was the consequence of fuel exhaustion (no usable fuel in the aircraft fuel tanks). Evidence of water-based contamination was found, which will be further examined as part of the continuing investigation.

The ATSB will also consider the following:

  • information from the pilot
  • flight logs and fuel records
  • operational policy, procedures and practices applicable to fuel management including regulatory aspects
  • serviceability of the aircraft fuel system components
  • aircraft maintenance requirements and records
  • fuel tank contaminant detection processes
  • fuel quantity indication systems
  • other fuel exhaustion or starvation occurrences.

Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify those affected and seek safety action to address the issue. A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation.

The information contained in this update is released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 and is derived from the initial investigation of the occurrence. Readers are cautioned that new evidence will become available as the investigation progresses that will enhance the ATSB's understanding of the accident as outlined in this update. As such, no analysis or findings are included in this update.

General details
Date: 02 March 2018   Investigation status: Active  
Time: 16:20 WST   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Great Northern Hwy, 39 km East of Broome   Investigation phase: Examination and analysis  
State: Western Australia   Occurrence type: Fuel exhaustion  
Release date: 04 May 2018   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Pending   Highest injury level: None  
Anticipated completion: 4th Quarter 2020    

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 441  
Aircraft registration VH-LBY  
Serial number 4410023  
Operator Skippers Aviation  
Type of operation Air Transport Low Capacity  
Sector Turboprop  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Fitzroy Crossing, WA  
Destination Broome, WA  
Last update 11 June 2020