Aviation occurrence briefs

Engine power loss after take-off involving a Piper PA-32RT, Jandakot, WA, on 17 May 2019

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 17 May 2019, a Piper PA-32RT departed Jandakot, Western Australia, to conduct a training flight. There was an instructor and a student on board.

During initial climb at about 400 ft, the crew reported that the engine began running roughly and surged, and was not producing adequate power to perform a normal climb. The crew contacted Jandakot air traffic control tower and advised them of the engine malfunction, requesting an immediate landing. They also requested to land on runway 06R, as it was the closest runway available to them. The aircraft was able to maintain 100 ft above ground level allowing the crew to conduct a low-level circuit and safe landing on the runway.

Engineering Inspection

Following the incident, an engineering inspection revealed that the turbo waste gate[1] became stuck resulting in the rough running engine.

Safety message

Partial power loss in a single-engine aircraft is three times more likely to occur than a complete engine failure. When an engine failure occurs at low altitudes, pilots are confronted with minimal options and need to make important decisions in a very short space of time. The ATSB’s publication and YouTube video, Managing partial power loss after take-off in single-engine aircraft highlights the importance of pre-flight decision making including planning for emergencies and abnormal situations.

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. Waste gate: a waste gate is a valve that diverts exhaust gases away from the turbine wheel in a turbocharged engine system.
General details
Date: 17 May 2019   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1315 EST    
Location   (show map): Jandakot Airport    
State: Western Australia    
Release Date: 24 June 2019   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-32RT-300T  
Type of operation Flying Training  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Jandakot, Western Australia  
Destination Jandakot, Western Australia  
Last update 31 July 2019