Aviation occurrence briefs

Engine power loss involving Cessna A152, Jandakot, WA, on 10 May 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 10 May 2018, at 1110 Western Standard Time, a student pilot took-off from runway 06L at Jandakot Airport for a solo flight to the training area to the south. The flight was in a Cessna A152. Shortly after take-off, the engine failed to produce adequate power. The student was able to maintain 500 ft yet unable to climb further. The student declared an emergency to Jandakot Tower, conducted a low-level left hand circuit, and landed safely.

The engine powering the Cessna A152 is a four cylinder Lycoming O-235 producing up to 82 kW in normal operation. Lycoming supplied the engine directly to the operator and it had a 2,400 hour time between overhauls (TBO) limit. The power loss occurred 2,146 hours into the engine’s life.

The engineering inspection showed that a burnt valve with a 2 mm hole on the edge of the face at the point of failure caused the power loss. A valve can sustain burning when it no longer turns in operation, exposing the face to a hot spot. Wear was evident on the associated exhaust lobe on camshaft, which could contribute directly to such an event.

Safety message

The student carried out all actions as taught and completed a successful low-level circuit and safe landing. Announcing the emergency to Air Traffic Control allowed them to put emergency services on standby to respond. The successful management of the situation demonstrates the value of solid instruction in the basics of flight.

There are currently 120 Cessna 152s on the Australian Register. Many of them in flight schools, and operated by new pilots. Reduction of camshaft wear and other engine problems can be achieved by ensuring all pilots accurately follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and observe the procedures and limitations in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook. Additionally, owners should ensure regular operation of their aircraft to avoid build-up of contamination on engine components, which can prematurely age the engine.

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: 10 May 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1110 WST    
Location   (show map): Jandakot    
State: Western Australia    
Release Date: 17 December 2018   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model A152  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Jandakot, WA  
Last update 17 December 2018