Accident Brief, Occurrence # 14/1158

Occurrence No 14/1158 Nature of Flight PRIVATE OTHER
Aircraft Model Rans S-7 Courier Pilot License Private Pilot Licence (Aeroplane)
Date and Time 19 Mar 14 at 17:26 Pilot Age 62
Location Caseys Flat Flying Hours (Total) 0
POB 0 Flying Hours (on Type) 0
Injuries (Fatal) 0 Last 90 Days 0
Injuries (Serious) 0 TAIC Ref
Injuries (Minor) 0 Publishing Ref Vector Jan/Feb 2015
Damage Date Published


During the take-off from a riverbed, engine power was normal. At approximately 200 feet AGL, the aircraft's engine suddenly lost power. Due to the lack of a suitable landing area ahead, the pilot initiated a 180 degree turn with the intention of landing back on the portion of riverbed used for the take-off. During the turn the aircraft stalled and landed heavily onto the riverbed. Emergency services were alerted via the Rescue Co-ordination Centre due to activation of the aircraft's ELT. The pilot received moderate injuries to his face and was transported to hospital. Investigation failed to determine a definite cause for the engine power loss, however, from the damage observed to the propeller, it was evident that the engine was producing significant power when the propeller struck the ground. Therefore, the engine power loss had only been momentary in nature. Although the aircraft is not fitted with carburettor heat, carb ice was thought unlikely as the engine was warm from a previous flight and so air temperatures within the engine compartment would probably have precluded the formation of ice. The possibility of the presence of water in the fuel system could not be discounted. The aircraft was fitted with a gascolator as recommended by the manufacturer, water drains had been carried out by the pilot prior to the first flight, however no water was detected. The aircraft fuel system filter utilised by the pilot was an automotive paper element type, he had used this type of filter for many years. When the fuel filter from the aircraft was examined, a drop of water was observed. It is possible, but it could not be positively determined, that a fuel flow restriction was caused by the paper element filter due to the presence of water. RANS had previously identified that paper element filters may restrict fuel flow if contaminated with water. This apparently has become more of a problem when mogas which has an ethanol component is used. RANS Operational Alert 168 titled Fuel Filter, recommends that a filter recommended by a Rotax service centre be utilised. A Rotax maintenance provider was contacted who advised that the fuel filter that he recommends is a 10 micron filter with a metallic (bronze) type filter element, a paper element filter is not recommended. Further investigation of the engine, which had been immersed in the river as a result of the accident, failed to find any defects which may have led to the momentary power loss.