Serious Incident: AS 350B, G-JESI, Dunkerrin, Co Offaly, 23 September 2006: Report No 2007-027

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During “hot refuelling”[1] the Pilot observed a slight rise in his fuel gauge to 20% fuel before it stopped increasing.  In the belief that his gauge was faulty, the Pilot requested, over his radio, that the refueller operator continue refuelling up to 300 litres.  The Pilot then signed the presented fuel docket for 302 litres and re-positioned his helicopter to the parking area.  Later that day, G–JESI took off from the K Club at 18.35 hrs (L) with 4 passengers onboard for the intended return flight to Adare, Co Limerick.  At approximately 19.10 hrs (L), the Pilot became concerned about his fuel state and, following a slight engine surge, made a precautionary landing in a farm field near the village of Dunkerrin, on the Offaly/Tipperary border.


Both Pilot and passengers exited the aircraft safely.  An examination of the helicopter the following morning by an Inspector of Air Accidents determined that the fuel tank contained a total of 6.5 litres of fuel. Furthermore there was no evidence of the helicopter having suffered a leak and no fuel staining was evident on the ground.  There was no damage. 


It was later determined by the Investigation that the helicopter fuel gauge was fully serviceable and that no leak had occurred through the entire fuel system.  The Investigation notes that only 2 % of the fuel requested by the Pilot (approximately 10 litres of 302 litres) was apparently uploaded during the hot refuelling at the K Club but the Investigation was unable to reconcile this serious anomaly.

[1] Hot refuelling is a term used to describe a refuelling operation, which is conducted while the engine and rotors are running and the Pilot remains on the controls.

Occurrence Date: September 23, 2006
Report Date: November 30, 2007
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