Aviation occurrence briefs

Engine failure and forced landing involving de Havilland DH-82A, 4 km west of Mackay, Qld, on 20 October 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 20 October 2018, the pilot of a de Havilland Aircraft Company DH-82A Tiger Moth departed Mackay, Queensland to conduct a joy flight. There was one pilot and one passenger on board.

During cruise, while returning to Mackay, the engine failed. The pilot declared a MAYDAY[1], lowered the nose of the aircraft and searched for a suitable landing area, finding a nearby road to be suitable. The pilot conducted a successful forced landing on the surface of the road. The aircraft did not sustain any damage as a result of the landing.

Engineering Inspection

Following the incident, the engineering inspection revealed the crankshaft had broken at the no. 1 cylinder aft main bearing web.

Figure 1: de Havilland DH-82A broken crankshaft
Figure 1: de Havilland DH-82A broken crankshaft. Source: Pilot in CommandSource: Pilot in Command

Safety message

Simulated total loss of power and a subsequent practice forced landing is at the core of a pilot’s emergency training. Following the engine failure, the pilot involved in this incident had to make important decisions in a short space of time, including where to land and how to manage the remaining altitude. Pre-flight self-briefing is an important tool in reinforcing planned emergency actions, including in circumstances of unfavourable terrain immediately past the aerodrome.

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. MAYDAY - Mayday is an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice-procedure radio communications. It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency.
General details
Date: 20 October 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0827 AEST    
Location   (show map): 4 km west of Mackay    
State: Queensland    
Release Date: 20 December 2018   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer de Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd  
Aircraft model DH-82A Tiger Moth  
Type of operation General Aviation  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Mackay, Queensland  
Last update 20 December 2018