The MiG 15UTI, VH-LSN, took off from runway 12 at Canberra Airport with the pilot and
one passenger on board. After becoming airborne, the aircraft entered a climbing left turn
and levelled at about 1,200 ft above ground level. The pilot advised the tower controller that
he was having a minor technical problem and requested a landing. After a short discussion,
the aircraft was cleared to land on runway 35. When the aircraft was about 4 km from the
threshold of runway 35, it was seen to enter a steep nose-down attitude. The aircraft
subsequently impacted the ground and the pilot and passenger were killed.
The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation determined that an engine over-temperature occurred.
The over-temperature was probably associated with an internal failure of the upper of two
engine fuel pumps. The resulting excessive turbine temperatures led to the turbine blades
creeping and rubbing on the turbine casing, and heat generated in the tail pipe as a result was
then transferred into the fuselage area. Fuel in the fuselage area aft of frame 21, probably
from a leaking fuel boost pump, was ignited by the high radiated temperatures in the tank
bay. The fire melted and burned the rudder and elevator control tubes and control of the
aircraft was lost. The area where the fire occurred was not monitored by over-heat or fire
detection devices, and the pilot was therefore probably not aware of the fire.