Aviation occurrence briefs

Engine fire involving Piper PA-28, at Warrnambool Airport, Vic., on 13 July 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 13 July 2018, at 1119 Eastern Standard Time, the pilot of a Piper PA-28 aircraft was conducting a touch-and-go[1] at Warrnambool Airport, Victoria.

During the flight, the pilot noticed that although the engine was idling within the green arc it was running slightly rougher than normal. After completing a circuit and landing on the runway, the engine idled to a halt. The pilot subsequently tried to restart the engine and noticed that the pump sounded sluggish and had lost volume. The mixture was set to full rich at all times.

During the second attempt to restart the engine, fumes and smoke were detected emanating from the engine compartment and liquid could be seen draining onto the runway. The pilot immediately shutdown the engine, switched off the aircraft electrical system and vacated the aircraft.

A fire started in the front section of the engine compartment and spread to the aft of the aircraft. As a result of the fire, the aircraft was destroyed.

Safety message

This incident provides a reminder that priming a hot engine can result in an engine fire. Most aircraft manuals will have a checklist to follow for engine fires on start-up. It is important for pilots to memorise this procedure specific to the aircraft they are flying.

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.


  1. Touch-and-go: The combination of a landing and take-off, performed as one fluid operation through touchdown, rolling reconfiguration, and lift-off.
General details
Date: 13 July 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1119 EST    
Location   (show map): Warrnambool    
State: Victoria    
Release Date: 14 November 2018   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-28-161  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Warrnambool Airport, Vic  
Last update 12 December 2018