• Cessna 152
    Cessna 152

Date of Accident: 06 June 2001

Time of Accident: ±1145Z

Aircraft Registration: ZS-JYU

Type of Aircraft: Cessna 152


Licence Type: Private

Licence Valid: Yes

Age: Not given

Total Flying Hours: 90

Hours on Type: 50

Last point of departure: Beaufort West

Next point of intended landing: Kroonstad

Location of the accident site: At farm near Hennenman

Elevation: 4486 ft

Meteorological Information: Fine

Number of people on board: 1+1

No. of people injured: 2

No. of people killed: 0


On the morning of 6 June 2001, the pilot accompanied by a passenger took off from Stellenbosch Aerodrome (near Cape Town) at 0315 Z and landed at Beaufort West (200 nm NW of Cape Town) at 0530 Z.  According to the pilot, the aircraft was refueled to capacity of 26 US. Gal. of fuel (24.5 US. Gal. useable) the previous day.  He then calculated a fuel endurance of 4 hours 18 minutes with full tanks with a fuel consumption of approximately 5.8 US. Gal. per hour according to the Pilot’s Operating Handbook that was in the aircraft. 

The aircraft was again refueled to capacity at Beaufort West where a total of 65.7 litres (17.2 US. Gal.) were uplifted. The pilot and passenger then departed Beaufort West at 0800Z for the second leg of the flight to Kroonstad. (360 nm NW of Beaufort West) 

The pilot stated that as he passed overhead Bloemfontein at approximately 1100Z, the fuel gauges indicated just below ¼ tanks each side (and 100 nm to go).  At approximately 1150Z and 20nm from destination both fuel gauges indicated approximately 1/8 tanks when the engine failed. 

The pilot was in the process of carrying out a forced landing on a gravel road leading to a farm house when a vehicle entered the road and he touched down on the gravel road slightly deeper than he anticipated. The aircraft impacted the concrete wall at the left-hand side of the farm main gate causing extensive damage to the aircraft and the wall. The pilot and passenger sustained serious injuries and were submitted to hospital.

Probable Cause

The pilot allowed the aircraft to run out of fuel

Jim’s Analysis

Oh! Dear, oh! Dear, oh! dear. Were did this man get his licence? What had he been pushing up his nose? Where did his instructor learn to instruct? What had he been smoking?

Certainly the pilot is an idiot, but a guy who has been trained in a disciplined environment surely can’t behave like this. Many of you might disagree, but I would hold the instructor at least partially to blame for this sort of behaviour during perhaps the first 150 to 200 hours. A well-trained pilot simply does not do this.

If you need to calculate the fuel to the last minute then you shouldn’t be flying, particularly if you intend arriving with empty tanks and no reserve. Hands up anyone who would let their family fly with a pilot who planned to land with empty tanks.

Let’s have a careful look at what was going on. The pilot claimed that the aircraft was refuelled to capacity the previous day. Three points: he didn’t say that he refuelled it; he didn’t claim he checked the caps; but most importantly he didn’t claim that he checked the levels or the caps during his pre-flight. If he had pre-flighted properly just before the flight, then he wouldn’t need to make claims about what happened the previous day.

Anyone who has a few hours on a 152 will know that four hours is the maximum you can expect to get out of it. And that doesn’t allow for start-up, taxi, run-up, take-off and climb. And if he had read the POH he would have known the refuelling procedure . If you don’t do it this way you could find yourself with less fuel than you thought.

And even if you do refuel properly, and lean properly, it is just plain reckless to plan on fuel stops that are more than three hours apart. After three hours he passed overhead Bloemies, where he should have landed at Tempe for fuel. But, he says, the fuel gauges indicated just below a quarter on each side. Based on that, he decided it was a good plan to fly for another hour. I need a picture of one of those little smilies banging its head against a wall.

Do you suppose that as he flew past the pumps at Tempe, he told his trusting passenger that he was making a conscious decision to put his or her life in danger?

And then when he did run out of fuel he landed much deeper than planned because a car suddenly materialized out of nowhere. He doesn’t explain how he found that extra distance on a dead engine. The whole landing bit doesn’t gel in my mind.

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