Aviation safety investigations & reports

Cessna 172-M, VH-RXN, 75 km West of Port Macquarie NSW, 15 March 1985

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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Prior to DEPARTURE the pilot checked the fuel quantity using a graduated dipstick, marked in litres and gallons. He noted that there was apparently sufficient fuel for the proposed flight. About 75 minutes after take-off and while cruising at 4500 feet amsl the engine lost all power. The pilot was committed to a forced landing in a rugged, heavily timbered area. The landing gear was sheared off on touchdown and deceleration forces were severe. Subsequent investigation revealed that the engine failed from fuel exhaustion. The pilot had not flown this particular aircraft before and was unfamiliar with the dipstick graduations. He misinterpreted the quantity indicated on the dipstick litres scale as gallons and whilst dipping the tanks his eye level was such that he could not see the fuel level within the tanks. During the flight the pilot had placed little reliance on fuel gauge indications.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 22KB]
General details
Date: 15 March 1985   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0845 (aprx)    
Location: 75 km West of Port Macquarie    
State: New South Wales    
Release date: 05 August 1985   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 172  
Aircraft registration VH-RXN  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Cooranbong NSW  
Departure time 0845 (aprx)  
Destination Armidale NSW