Monday, June 6, 2016

Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, N5376P: Accident occurred June 04, 2016 in Loda, Loda Township, Iroquois County, Illinois (and) incident occurred April 13, 2016 near Tucumcari Municipal Airport (KTCC), Quay County, New Mexico 

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Springfield FSDO-19

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA277
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 03, 2016 in Loda, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/31/2016
Aircraft: PIPER PA 24, registration: N5376P
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that while at cruise on a cross country flight the engine experienced a total loss of power and he switched fuel tanks. The airplane restarted, and then a total loss of power occurred again. The pilot was forced to land the airplane on a private grass airstrip. During the landing roll the left main landing gear impacted a low spot in the ground, veered off the runway to the left and impacted a fence with the left wing. 

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing. 

A postaccident examination revealed that the right and left fuel tanks were empty, and no fuel leaks could be identified. 

Fuel Management

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Foundation has published Safety Advisor SA16-01/05 Fuel Awareness (2005). This document discusses recommendations regarding fuel management for pilots and states in part:

1. Know How Much Fuel You Have - The first step in knowing how much fuel you have is to think of fuel not in gallons or pounds but hours and minutes. The Air Safety Foundation recommends that pilots of unfamiliar airplanes add one or two gallons per hour to their computed fuel consumption until they see how much that airplane actually burns.

2. Know Your Airplane's Fuel System - Pilots must also be familiar with and proficient in operating the fuel system on their airplanes.

3. Know What's in Your Fuel Tanks - Pilots must ensure their airplane contains the proper grade of uncontaminated fuel.

4. Update Your Fuel Status Regularly During Flight - It's good to do thorough preflight planning but, once in the air, things can change. Winds are rarely exactly as forecast and weather deviations add miles and minutes to your trip. The Air Safety Foundation recommends that pilots evaluate their fuel status each hour.

5. Always Land with Adequate Reserve Fuel - Aviation regulations require different fuel reserves for different operations. The Air Safety Foundation recommends that pilots never land with less than one hour of fuel in the tanks. That way all the regulatory reserve requirements are met and exceeded by at least 15 minutes.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to properly calculate the fuel consumption rate and to properly monitor the fuel status in flight, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion and a subsequent forced landing, runway excursion, and impact with a fence.

Date: 13-APR-16
Time: 16:30:00Z
Regis#: N5376P
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA24
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: None
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Albuquerque FSDO-01
State: New Mexico


Ronald Beyers stands next to the tail of his Piper PA-24-250 Comanche.

Bernadette Beyers speaks with New Mexico State Police Officer Joshua Silva after she and her husband Ronald were forced to land their plane in the median. 

Interstate-40 traffic was a bit more congested than usual on Wednesday morning. An Indiana couple landed their single-engine airplane on the median about 15 miles west of Tucumcari, after losing power.

“This was the first landing without power for the both of us,” said Ronald Beyers.

“It’s also the last time, I hope,” said Bernadette Beyers.

Ronald Beyers said he was focused on landing the plane in the dirt median between the eastbound and westbound highways and he did not notice if there was any other traffic.

New Mexico State Police reported there were no injuries related to the incident.

The couple was flying to their home in West Lafayette, Indiana, from Mesa, Arizona, when their Piper PA-24-250 Comanche lost power.

“We were about a mile north of I-40,  said Ronald Beyers, who was piloting the plane.

He said he was flying as usual when he and his wife lurched forward in their seatbelts and the engine stopped.

He said he switched fuel tanks and turned on the booster pump but there was still no power to the plane.

“At that point, I began surveying the area for a possible place to land the plane,” Ronald Beyers said.

They began their descent shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday.

By the time Quay County Sheriff’s Office deputies and New Mexico State Police troopers arrived on scene, the  Beyers were unharmed and walking around the plane.

“It all happened so suddenly,” Bernadette Beyers said. “I’m just so grateful that we are both OK.”

She credited the safe landing to her husband’s experience as a retired Air Force pilot who earned the rank of colonel. Ronald Beyers served for 26 years.

Ronald Beyers said he called out a “may day” distress, advising authorities of his plan to land the aircraft on the interstate.

Officials early Wednesday afternoon were still on the scene, awaiting the arrival of officials from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Ronald Beyers said the plane will have to be hauled from where it landed.

Original article can be found here:

Around 11 a.m., a Piper PA-24-250 Comanche plane landed in the median on I-40 about 6 miles west of Tucumcari at Mile Marker 319 and everyone walked away. Quay County Sheriff Russell Shafer:

The median is about 60 feet wide. The pilot, who is in his 60s, has had extensive background which no doubt helped to keep the situation from becoming a disaster; he previously flew in the Air Force and as a commercial pilot. 

The pilot and his wife were the only passengers in the 4-seater plane. No emergency response was ever requested.

At this time, the plane is still in the median, and they are working on removing it.

Story and audio:

TUCUMCARI, N.M. (AP) – Authorities say a Piper PA-24-250 Comanche plane made an emergency landing on Interstate 40 in eastern New Mexico.

State Police say no one was injured during the incident late Wednesday morning near Tucumcari and no damage was reported.

Circumstances of the emergency landing aren’t immediately known.

The plane was moved into the highway’s median until it can be removed.

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