Aviation safety investigations & reports

Fuel starvation involving Cessna 210, VH-HZE, 11 km N of Mildura Airport, Victoria, on 6 February 2017

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

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On 6 February 2017 at around 0730 Eastern Daylight-Saving Time (EDT), the pilot of a Cessna 210 aircraft, registered VH-HZE, departed Mildura Airport, Victoria, for Broken Hill Airport, New South Wales (NSW), to conduct a private business flight under visual flight rules.

The previous afternoon, the pilot filled the two fuel tanks.

After arriving in Broken Hill an hour after departure, the pilot and two work colleagues flew to a number of stations to visit clients, and then returned to Broken Hill to drop off the two colleagues. After departing Broken Hill, the pilot checked the Mildura aerodrome weather information service (AWIS). The weather was cloudy, but suitable for a visual approach.

The pilot approached Mildura overhead to observe the conditions and manoeuvred to remain out of cloud, before setting up for a straight-in approach for runway 18. They were about to make a broadcast when the engine stopped. The pilot made a MAYDAY call to Melbourne Centre.

The pilot cycled the selector from both tanks to the right tank and switched the auxiliary fuel pump on, but the engine did not restart. The pilot noticed their fuel flow computer indicated 90 L of fuel remaining when the engine failed.

The pilot conducted a forced landing in the paddock and collided with a fence during the ground roll. The aircraft was substantially damaged.

It was likely the aircraft was not completely fuelled prior to the flight and the low fuel level led to the engine failure. The investigation is a reminder of the importance of monitoring fuel levels and the limitations of flight instruments.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin Issue 61

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General details
Date: 06 February 2017   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 16:37 ESuT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 11 km N of Mildura Airport    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction  
Release date: 27 July 2017   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model P210N  
Aircraft registration VH-HZE  
Serial number P21000859  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Broken Hill, NSW  
Destination Mildura, Vic.  
Last update 14 November 2018