Investigators to look at maintenance after faulty gauges found on aircraft forced to make emergency landing

The Fairchild Metro III operated by Australian regional Sunshine Express Airlines that was forced to make an emergency landing last month had just 2 litres (0.5USgal) of fuel in one tank and 28 litres in the other.

The aircraft, with 16 passengers and two crew, was on a scheduled flight from Thangool to Brisbane on 23 September when the left fuel transfer pump warning illuminated. The crew selected the alternative fuel boost pump, but the warning remained illuminated, forcing a diversion to Bundaberg, Queensland. About 19km (10nm) from Bundaberg the left engine failed and the aircraft landed successfully on the right engine.

At Bundaberg the fuel gauge indicated there was roughly 227 litres of fuel in the left tank and 170 litres in the right tank, but when the fuel was drained only 30 litres was in both tanks, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) incident report. The aircraft was fitted with a mechanical fuel totaliser, which indicated that the aircraft had consumed 729 litres of fuel from Thangool to Bundaberg and on an earlier flight from Brisbane to Thangool.

Maintenance issues are being investigated as the fuel gauge was replaced by an independent maintenance facility before the flight.

The ATSB is continuing its investigation into the incident, which it classifies as “serious”. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has directed the operator to amend its operations manual concerning pre-flight fuel checks and has inspected the fuel indication systems on three other Metros in the fleet, while maintenance relating to fuel-indication systems is being reviewed. Sunshine Express has implemented additional safety measures relating to fuel checks.


Source: Flight International