Aviation occurrence briefs

Fuel leaking event involving a Piper PA-32-300, Numbulwar Airport, NT, on 16 December 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 16 December 2019, a Piper PA-32 departed from Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory for a chartered flight to Numbulwar, Northern Territory. There was one pilot and two passengers on board.

After landing in Numbulwar, the pilot conducted a post-flight inspection on the aircraft. During the inspection, he observed fuel leaking from the quick drain valve underneath the aircraft. He then conducted an inspection inside the aircraft to determine the reason for the fuel leak and found that the quick fuel drain lever had been moved into the open position.

The pilot moved the lever into the closed position and conducted a further inspection to ensure there was no more fuel leaking. It was determined that one of the passengers had inadvertently moved the quick fuel drain lever with their foot during the flight.

Safety message

This incident highlights the importance of comprehensive passenger safety briefings. A passenger briefing that includes an awareness of any controls within reach of passengers will help to ensure that these are not interfered with during the flight.

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.

General details
Date: 16 December 2019   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0730 CST    
Location   (show map): Numbulwar Airport    
State: Northern Territory    
Release Date: 10 February 2020   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-32-300  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory  
Destination Numbulwar, Northern Territory  
Last update 10 February 2020