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 28 January 2021, a student pilot was conducting a solo local training flight in a Cessna 152. The aircraft departed Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, with 35 L of fuel on board. As the aircraft was going into maintenance the next day, the student was advised by their instructor to return from the flight with minimum fuel remaining. The flight school’s policy stated that the required minimum remaining fuel was 19 L as a fixed reserve, and an additional 5 L fuel was to be allocated for taxiing. For the useable fuel on board, the policy and fuel planning figures would have allowed for 26 minutes of flight. The total recorded engine-run time for the taxi and flight was 1.2 hours.
The aircraft landed at Bacchus Marsh with 15 L of fuel remaining, which was confirmed when maintainers drained the tank the next day.
The flight school’s fuel policy is under review and a plan to further educate staff and students is being developed.
This incident highlights the importance of clear communication between instructors and students. Instead of giving the student a timeframe, the instructor gave a fuel-remaining measurement, which is harder to gauge accurately, and led to the student using fixed reserve fuel. Additionally, other options should be explored to bring the aircraft to minimum fuel for maintenance instead of using a student on a solo training 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.
|Date:||28 January 2021||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Release Date:||25 February 2021||Occurrence category:||Incident|
|Report status:||Final||Highest injury level:||None|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Cessna Aircraft Company|
|Type of operation||Flying Training|
|Damage to aircraft||Nil|
|Departure point||Bacchus Marsh, Victoria|
|Departure time||1530 ESuT|
|Destination||Bacchus Marsh, Victoria|