Fuel error at fault in crash
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.