Engine power loss caused plane crash

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A light plane crash that left a pilot seriously injured near one of Australia's busiest airports was caused by engine power loss, an investigation by the aviation watchdog has found.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said a significant reduction in fuel flow caused a Piper PA-32 aircraft to lose power shortly after take off from Moorabbin Airport in June last year.

The aircraft began descending about 500 feet above ground level and clipped trees and collided with terrain as the pilot made a forced landing.

The 53-year-old pilot was rushed to hospital, where he was treated for head injuries. The aircraft was destroyed.

It's unclear what caused the fuel flow reduction. Flight records and witness reports show there was sufficient fuel on board, and in any tank, to power the engine.

"This accident highlights the challenges pilots face when confronted with a loss of engine power at low level and with few suitable forced landing areas within the glide capability of the aircraft," ATSB Director Transport Safety Stuart Macleod said.

"It reaffirms to pilots that they can best mitigate the effects of a loss of power through forward planning, which reduces mental workload under stress, and always maintaining control of the aircraft."