Aviation safety investigations & reports

Fuel exhaustion involving a Bell Helicopter Co 206B (III), VH-PHZ, Carrum Downs, VIC on 26 February 1996

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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Approaching home base, towards the end of a charter flight, the pilot became concerned about a low fuel quantity indication on the fuel gauge, so he advised his company by radio that he was landing in a paddock about 7 nm south south east of Moorabbin. He also requested that fuel be brought to him. After landing and shutting down the engine, the pilot realised that the nearest access to the aircraft by road was blocked by a canal and a fence. He therefore decided to reposition the aircraft to facilitate refuelling. After starting the engine and having hover-taxied a short distance with an estimated 20 kt tailwind and at about 10 ft above the ground, the helicopter's engine flamed out due to fuel exhaustion. The aircraft touched down, heels of the landing skids first, on uneven terrain. The main rotor severed the tail boom and the helicopter rolled over. According to the pilot, the fuel gauge registered 45 US gallons when he commenced the charter. He believed this was sufficient fuel to complete the flight using a fuel burn off rate of 25 US gallons per hour. However, since leaving base, the engine had operated for an estimated one hour and 50 minutes, including the time spent at ground idle. Unuseable fuel is 10 pounds (1.7 US gallons). Only a very small amount of fuel was found in the tank after the accident. No fault with the engine or the airframe has been reported to have contributed to the accident. Both of the electric fuel boost pumps were serviceable and operating at the time. The aircraft was not equipped with the optional, low fuel warning light system. Significant Factors The following factors are considered relevant to the development of the accident: 1. The pilot did not exercise sound fuel management procedures.
Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 15KB]
General details
Date: 26 February 1996   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 10:00 ESuT    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Fuel exhaustion  
Release date: 07 March 1996   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final    

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter Co  
Aircraft model 206B (III)  
Aircraft registration VH-PHZ  
Sector Helicopter  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Carrum Downs Vic  
Destination Carrum Downs Vic