Aviation occurrence briefs

Engine failure involving Cessna 206, near Oenpelli, NT, on 30 May 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 30 May 2018, a Cessna 206 departed Oenpelli, Northern Territory (NT), for Croker Island, NT with a pilot and four passengers on board. After unloading the passengers at Croker Island, the pilot departed for the return flight to Oenpelli.

During the return leg at approximately 1705 Central Standard Time while the aircraft was cruising at 1,500 ft, the engine lost power and failed. The pilot noted that the airspeed had dropped back to 70 knots and was unable to maintain height. The pilot turned towards a mud flat, checked the fuel, mixture, and magnetos however the engine failed to respond. The pilot made a MAYDAY[1] call and set up the aircraft for landing. The aircraft landed on a mud flat with no damage.

The post-flight engineering inspection did not reveal any faults with the engine and there was sufficient fuel and oil. The aircraft was later flown out from the mud flat.

Pilot comments

The pilot commented that the low altitude of the aircraft resulted in limited time to troubleshoot the cause of the engine failure. As a result, the engine failure checks and forced landing was required to be done quickly, with increased possibility of error.

Safety message

Although the cause of the engine failure could not be identified, the quick response by the pilot resulted in landing the aircraft in a suitable area without damage. Engine failures can happen at any time. If an engine fails at low level, the time to troubleshoot failures and glide to a suitable area is limited.

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: an internationally recognised radio call announcing a distress condition where an aircraft or its occupants are being threatened by serious and/or imminent danger and the flight crew require immediate assistance.
General details
Date: 30 May 2018   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1705 CST    
Location   (show map): 85 km N from Oenpelli    
State: Northern Territory    
Release Date: 02 November 2018   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 206  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Croker Island, NT  
Destination Oenpelli, NT  
Last update 12 December 2018