Aviation occurrence briefs

Precautionary Landing involving a Piper PA-28 near Yass, NSW, on 11 September 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

Pilot report

On 11 September 2018 at 1300 Eastern Standard Time, a Piper Aircraft PA-28 was conducting a solo VFR navigation travelling from Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, to Wagga Wagga, New South Wales (NSW).

At approximately 19 km to the north-west of Yass, NSW, the pilot reported that the engine information was not displaying on the multi-function display (MFD). The pilot then reported hearing a loud noise from the auto prompter that announced that the engine sensor unit was not communicating.

The pilot reported commencing the data acquisition unit (DAU) failure checklist and then hearing an engine noise change and feeling a loss in performance, however the checklist was not completed. The pilot also reported that the aircraft began to lose airspeed and struggle to maintain height.

The pilot then reported commencing the engine failure procedures and made the decision to divert to Jindalee ALA, NSW, for a precautionary landing.

During the flight to Jindalee, the pilot attempted to troubleshoot by slowly cycling through the throttle to see if power would increase and attempted to conduct a climb with throttle at full power, with no sign of improvement. Both magnetos were isolated and the selection was to both. The throttle was left at 2/3 open.

The pilot then made a broadcast to Melbourne Centre and on the local multicom frequency to advise of their engine issue. A safe landing at Jindalee was completed and the aircraft was secured on the ground.

Engineering inspection

Engineers inspected the aircraft and found no defects in accordance with the aircraft engineering manual. The aircraft was approved to return to service.

Safety message

When a suspected engine problem arises on a single engine aircraft, it is vital for crew to maintain control in response to emergencies.

In this scenario, the pilot maintained aircraft control and made the decision to conduct a precautionary landing.

When it is safe to do so, pilots should complete relevant emergency checklists. This will confirm the status of their aircraft’s performance and ensure a more informed decision is made when determining to continue with the flight or make a precautionary landing.

For information on what to do in the event of power loss during flight, the ATSB report and case study on Managing a partial engine power loss after take-off in single-engine aircraft is available from 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: 11 September 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1300 EST    
Location   (show map): 19 km NW of Yass    
State: New South Wales    
Release Date: 04 January 2019   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-28  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Canberra, ACT  
Destination Wagga Wagga, NSW  
Last update 04 January 2019