Aviation occurrence briefs

Engine Failure involving Cessna 152, Lake Walyungup, WA, on 7 January 2018

Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.

What happened

On 7 January 2018, the pilot of the Cessna 152 departed Jandakot, Western Australia (WA) to conduct aerobatics. The pilot was the only occupant.

At approximately 1412 Western Standard Time (WST) following an aerobatic-loop, the pilot applied power and the engine failed to accelerate. The pilot completed the emergency checklist, but the engine would not accelerate beyond 1900 RPM. The pilot searched for a suitable landing area, finding Lake Walyungup to be suitable. The pilot then made a PAN-PAN and later a MAYDAY radio transmission. The pilot conducted a successful forced landing on the dry surface of the lake.

The aircraft did not sustain any damage as a result of the landing. The post-flight inspection revealed the carburettor to be the cause of the failure. Metal contamination was detected in the carburettor which was likely disturbed during the aerobatics resulting in the partial engine failure. The source of the contaminants could not be identified.

Safety message

Simulated total loss of power and a subsequent practice forced landing is at the core of a pilot’s emergency training. However, data shows that for light single-engine aircraft a partial power loss is three times more likely to occur than a complete engine failure.

Following the partial engine failure, the pilot in this occurrence had to make important decisions in a short space of time, where to land and how to manage the remaining altitude. The ATSB’s publication and YouTube video ‘Managing partial power loss after take-off in single-engine aircraft’ is available on the ATSB website.

About this report

Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.

General details
Date: 07 January 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1412 WST    
Location   (show map): 30 km SW from Jandakot    
State: Western Australia    
Release Date: 28 March 2018    
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 152  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Jandakot, WA  
Last update 12 April 2018