Fuel er­ror at fault in crash

The Cairns Post - - NEWS - GRACE MA­SON grace.ma­son@news.com.au

A FUEL re­fill­ing mishap has been ruled as the cause of a light air­craft crash in a re­mote Far North field af­ter the pilot had to make an emer­gency land­ing.

Eleven days be­fore the Sa­van­nah Avi­a­tion air­craft was forced to ditch just north of Nor­man­ton Air­port, it was in­cor­rectly filled with just 200 litres, rather than 400.

A re­port handed down by the Aus­tralian Trans­port Safety Bureau found the re­fu­eller re­alised the er­ror as soon as it oc­curred at Mt Isa on June 15 this year, but got dis­tracted by a phone call and for­got about it.

The plane was in­volved in sev­eral flights over the next few days, but the dis­crep­ancy re­mained un­de­tected and it was not un­til a trip be­tween Bur­ke­town and Nor­man­ton on June 26 that fuel ran out.

“The pilot con­ducted a forced land­ing in a pad­dock,” the re­port said.

“The pilot was not in­jured dur­ing the in­ci­dent, how­ever, the air­craft sus­tained sub­stan­tial dam­age.”

The ATSB in­ves­ti­ga­tor said the in­ci­dent high­lighted the im­por­tance of com­mu­ni­cat­ing an er­ror.

The bureau also found there had since been a change to pro­ce­dures at the air­port with pi­lots now re­quired to re­view and sign the fuel de­liv­ery re­ceipt. The ATSB also handed down find­ings on a he­li­copter crash on Cape York and a near-miss at Cairns Air­port be­tween a he­li­copter and light air­craft.

In the April 6 he­li­copter crash near Me­lanie Camp, the chop­per was car­ry­ing a pilot and three pas­sen­gers when it lost ro­tor speed while still 170m in the air, then rolled when it hit the ground.

The pilot high­lighted he was wear­ing noise can­celling head­phones which may have pre­vented him hear­ing changes to the en­gine noises.

Also a he­li­copter on re­turn from a scenic flight from Green Is­land was forced into a rapid de­scent on Fe­bru­ary 5 af­ter spot­ting a small plane head­ing di­rectly to­wards it.

The ATSB found the two air­craft were us­ing dif­fer­ent ra­dio fre­quen­cies and high­lighted the im­por­tance of vis­ual checks, not just re­ly­ing on the ra­dio.

LUCKY ES­CAPE: No one was hurt in the April 6 crash.

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