The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating a worrying incident involving a Virgin Australia ATR 72-600 VH-FVN in which both engines on the regional turboprop aircraft "flamed out" while flying in rain on Monday.

According to Australian Aviation, the incident, which occurred near Canberra airport, involved a flight from Sydney.

"While the aircraft was descending through 11,000ft in heavy rain, the right engine's power rolled back (decreased) and the engine flamed out.

"The engine automatically restarted within five seconds," the ATSB said.


"The descent continued and, while passing through 10,000ft, the left engine's power also rolled back and that engine flamed out before automatically relighting."

Luckily, the plane's crew manually ignited the engines for the remainder of the flight and the landing.

The ATSB has begun collecting evidence from the incident including downloading the aircraft's flight data recorder.

The safety investigator has revealed that the investigation may take several months, and that should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate action can be taken."

Flameout explained

Flameout refers to an incident where the flame in an aircraft engine is extinguished.

Flameout: Plane engines are designed to restart if extinguished .Photo / Getty Images
Flameout: Plane engines are designed to restart if extinguished .Photo / Getty Images

Though most likely to occur during extreme weather - such as rain high turbulence or extreme low temperatures - it can be caused by a number of mechanical issues causing fuel or oxygen starvation.

Modern jet engines are designed to restart, should its combustion chamber be extinguished - but this relies on either sufficient turbine speed or starter motors being re-engaged midflight.