Thursday, July 3, 2014

Cessna 336 Skymaster, N3804U, Mobile County Health Dept: Accident occurred July 03, 2014 in Mobile, Alabama

NTSB Identification: ERA14TA326
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Thursday, July 03, 2014 in Mobile, AL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/27/2015
Aircraft: CESSNA 336, registration: N3804U
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that he was performing mosquito control spraying operations at 100 ft above ground level (agl) when the rear engine began to sputter and lose power. He switched to the auxiliary fuel tank; however, this did not remedy the situation. He then climbed the airplane to 500 ft agl and continued to troubleshoot the problem by again switching fuel tanks and turning the electric boost pumps on. Shortly thereafter, the front engine began to lose power. Unable to regain full power on both engines, the pilot chose to perform a forced landing in an open field. The airplane touched down on soft soil and stopped abruptly, which resulted in extensive damage to the airplane. Both fuel selectors were found in the right main fuel tank positions. An examination of the fuel system revealed that the main fuel tanks contained only residual fuel and that the auxiliary tanks contained an adequate amount of fuel. Examination of the fuel lines revealed that both supply lines from the gascolators to the engine-driven fuel pumps were contaminated and obstructed with a granular, powder-like substance. The engines ran normally when operated in a test cell after the accident.

The auxiliary fuel tanks were designed for level, cruise flight only. The auxiliary tanks fed directly to the fuel selector and had no boost pumps available. It is likely that, due to the fuel system’s design, adequate fuel pressure could not be regained once the main tanks were depleted and the pilot switched to the auxiliary tanks. The contamination in the fuel lines might have further restricted fuel flow to the engines. The loss of engine power might have been prevented if the pilot had maintained an adequate amount of fuel in the main tanks. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s inadequate preflight fuel planning during which he did not ensure that there was adequate fuel in the main tanks for the flight, which resulted in a loss of engine power. 

On July 3, 2014, about 1846 central daylight time, a Cessna 336, N3804U, force landed following a partial loss of engine power at Mobile, Alabama. The airline transport pilot was seriously injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was operated by the Mobile County Health Department. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local, public use, aerial application flight, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated at St. Elmo, Alabama (2R5) about 1829.

The pilot reported in a written statement to the NTSB that he was assigned to mosquito control spraying operations in the Mobile area. He departed 2R5 with about 48 gallons of fuel, including 36 gallons in the auxiliary tanks. While established on the southbound leg of a spray pattern, he transferred the engines, one at a time, to the full, 18 gallon auxiliary tanks. Shortly after, the engines began to "sputter" and would not maintain rpm. He aborted the spray run, "zoom climbed" to about 600 feet above the ground (agl), and turned to a heading of about 210, in the direction of Mobile Downtown Airport (BFM), about 4 to 5 nautical miles away. The available power was intermittent with rpm surges on both engines, and power available appeared insufficient to reach BFM. He set up for a forced landing on an island between a container terminal and a coal terminal. The airplane touched down on soft soil and came to a stop abruptly, resulting in extensive damage to the airplane.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage. Structural damage to the fuselage was confirmed. An examination of the fuel system revealed that the fuel selector handle for the front engine was in the right main tank position. The fuel selector handle for the rear engine was broken off from impact forces. It was later determined that the rear engine fuel selector was also in the right main tank position. The left and right main fuel tanks were empty of fuel and only residual fuel (about 2 ounces) was drained from the left and right main sump tanks. The tanks were not breached. The design of main fuel tanks allows them to completely drain into their respective sump tanks. The left and right auxiliary tanks contained sufficient fuel; however, it was not quantified.

The FAA inspector interviewed the pilot on July 9, 2014. He stated in the interview that he had been flying at 100 feet agl when the rear engine began "sputtering and coughing." He switched to the auxiliary fuel tank; however, this did not remedy the situation. He climbed the airplane to 500 feet agl and continued to troubleshoot by switching tanks and turning the boost pumps on. The front engine then began to lose power. He continued to troubleshoot the loss of power and realized that he could not maintain altitude and needed to perform an emergency landing short of the airport. 

The engines were removed from the airframe and sent to the manufacturer's facility for examination. The engines were test run during the week of July 21 through 25, 2014. After repair of impact-related damage, the engines ran normally in a test cell. The test runs did not reveal any abnormalities that would have prevented normal operation and production of rated horsepower.

On January 16, 2015, the aircraft fuel system was re-examined under the supervision of the NTSB investigator-in-charge. The both engine fuel selectors were confirmed to be in the right main tank positions. Flaky, rust-colored debris was observed inside the right sump tank. The left sump tank was relatively clean. The left and right wing auxiliary fuel pumps, which operate the left and right main tank fuel sources only, were found to be functional when energized with a dc electrical source. The fuel lines from the fuel selector valves to the main and auxiliary tanks were unobstructed.

The rear engine fuel strainer was opened for examination. It contained about 1/8 teaspoon of light gray, powder-like debris in the bowl. The screen was unobstructed. The supply line from the strainer to the engine-driven fuel pump was obstructed; no air could be blown through it by mouth. The obstruction was removed with a clean piece of wire; about one teaspoon of light gray, powder-like debris was removed. 

The front engine fuel strainer was opened for examination. The bottom of the bowl was corroded with a rust-like substance. The screen was unobstructed. The supply line from the strainer to the engine-driven fuel pump was obstructed; no air could be blown through it by mouth. The obstruction was removed with a clean piece of wire; about one half teaspoon of rust-colored, granular debris was removed.

According to the aircraft manufacturer, the auxiliary fuel tanks are intended for level, cruise flight. The auxiliary fuel tanks gravity feed directly to the fuel strainer; no boost pumps are available. The Cessna 336 pilot's operating handbook (POH) states that, in the pre-flight exterior inspection and the before landing checklist, the main tanks are to be selected. Also, the POH states that, in the event of an engine out situation during flight, the main tanks are to be selected if the auxiliary tanks are in use.


http://registry.faa.gov/N3804U

NTSB Identification: ERA14TA326 
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Thursday, July 03, 2014 in Mobile, AL
Aircraft: CESSNA 336, registration: N3804U
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

On July 3, 2014, about 1946 central daylight time, a Cessna 336, N3804U, force landed following a partial loss of engine power at Mobile, Alabama. The airline transport pilot was seriously injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was operated by the Mobile County Health Department. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local, public use, aerial application flight, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated at St. Elmo, Alabama (2R5) at an undetermined time.

According to the pilot, he was assigned to mosquito control spraying operations in the Mobile area. While flying at 100 feet above the ground, a loss of engine power was observed on both engines. He initiated a climb and assessed the situation. He was unable to maintain altitude and could not recover full engine power, so he force landed the airplane in a nearby field. The nose landing gear collapsed in the soft soil and the airplane came to a stop.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage. Structural damage to the fuselage was confirmed. The engines were removed and will be examined at a later date at the manufacturer's facilities under the direction of the NTSB.



 
  
Mobile-Fire Rescue officials said they responded to mosquito sprayer plane down at McDuffie Coal Terminal. The terminal is on Ezra Trice Boulevard in Mobile.  

 A crane operator said he was on a crane when he saw the plane fly over. “Sounded like he was running out of gas, me and the other operator heard it sputtering,” Burke Armistead told FOX10 News.
 

The Alabama State Port Authority sent FOX10 News this aerial photo of where the crash happened, field between the coal terminal and the container terminal with the two big blue cranes

“He got right there beside the container yard and started dropping down real fast,” Armistead continued. “Then, look like when he hit he just turned to the left real hard, big pile of dust came up. It never exploded or nothing. Then we called 911.

Armistead said it looked like the pilot was trying to land.

Steve Huffman with Mobile Fire Rescue said the pilot was walking around when officials arrived on scene. He was taken to USA Medical Center for non-life threatening injures.

“The aircraft is sitting upright obviously it looks like it nose dived or hit the ground or dirt but it’s sitting upright on an open filed. No buildings, no people so if you’re going to crash this was the way to do it,” Huffman said.

He said the plane was carrying 50 gallons of pesticide.

The Mobile County Health Department said the pilot was flying a planned mission, a mosquito control spray, in the area of Battleship Memorial Parkway, prior to a July Fourth celebration Friday evening.

“We pray for the pilot’s speedy recovery,” said Dr. Bernard Eichold, Health Officer for the Mobile County Health Department. “We’re also grateful no one on the ground was injured.”

Officials with the Alabama State Port Authority say the pilot was conscious and transported to USA Medical Center.

The plane is a Cessna 336 (push-pull), a twin-engine fixed wing aircraft with non-retractable gear. It was acquired from the military by the health agency to provide mosquito control in areas such as salt marshes that can’t be reached by trucks. An investigation will be conducted by the FAA and NTSB.


Story and Videos:  http://fox10tv.com



MOBILE, Alabama -- A Cessna 336 crashed in an open field near McDuffie Coal Terminal late Wednesday, sending a male Mobile County Health Department pilot to a local hospital.

According to the Mobile County Health Department, the pilot was flying a planned mosquito control spray mission in the area of Battleship Memorial Parkway when the plane crash landed shortly before 7 p.m.

The plane did not catch fire, but the pilot, who appeared to be alert, was taken to the University of South Alabama Medical Center to be treated for any injuries.

"We pray for the pilot's speedy recovery," said Dr. Bernard Eichold, Health Officer for the Mobile County Health Department. "We're also grateful no one on the ground was injured."

The twin-engine plane came to a stop on property owned by the Alabama State Port Authority on McDuffie Island, just south of the container terminal on the westside of the Mobile River, Port Authority officials said. 

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