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.
On 14 January 2021, the pilot of a Piper PA-30 aircraft planned to conduct circuits for the purpose of running the engines after a prolonged storage period. The pilot’s usual procedure had been to fill the aircraft tanks (to full) prior to flight. On this occasion, instead of filling the tanks, the pilot visually checked the quantity of fuel in the wing tanks and assessed it was sufficient for the planned flight.
A graphic engine monitor unit was installed in the aircraft but was reported to have reverted to factory settings following a flat battery. The pilot therefore deemed this an unreliable source of fuel quantity information.
Shortly after take-off on the fourth circuit, the left engine stopped due to fuel exhaustion. The pilot initiated a turn back to the runway. Once confident of making the runway, the pilot configured the aircraft for landing.
With limited manoeuvrability due to one engine inoperative, and the possibility of the right engine stopping at any moment, the pilot elected to land with a tailwind. This resulted in a higher ground speed on touchdown. The ground speed, combined with the wet grass surface, meant that the braking performance was insufficient to stop the aircraft on the runway remaining. The aircraft overran the runway into a wire fence resulting in minor damage to the nose and wings.
As a result of this occurrence, the owner has advised the ATSB that they have made a calibrated dipstick to accurately measure the quantity of fuel in the wing tanks.
This incident is a reminder to pilots to ensure sufficient fuel is carried for the proposed flight. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority advisory publication, CAAP-234-1 Guidelines for aircraft fuel, provides guidance for fuel quantity crosschecking. Pilots should use at least two independent verification methods to determine the quantity of fuel on board the aircraft.
Case studies for pilots to learn about fuel management related accidents are documented in the ATSB publication Avoidable Accidents No. 5 – Starved and exhausted: Fuel management aviation accidents.
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.
|Date:||14 January 2021||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Release Date:||24 February 2021||Occurrence category:||Incident|
|Report status:||Final||Highest injury level:||None|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Piper Aircraft Corp|
|Type of operation||General Aviation|
|Damage to aircraft||Minor|
|Departure point||near Caboolture, Queensland|
|Destination||near Caboolture, Queensland|