Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Piper PA-22-150 Tri-Pacer, N2569P: Accident occurred June 18, 2015 in Laconia, Belknap County, New Hampshire





LACONIA – An improperly seated fuel selector valve is the likely cause of the loss of engine power that caused a city insurance executive to crash land his private plane last June.

The National Safety Transportation Board said it could not definitively determine if the fuel valve selector was at fault, since the valve was moved by first responders to minimize the risk of fire, but it may have played a role in the June 18, 2015 accident.

In its final report the NTSB determined the probable cause of the incident was a total loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined, because of insufficient evidence found during post-accident examination of the airframe and engine.

Thomas Volpe, 81, told investigated he did not remember a “single aspect” of the accident after he took off from his private airfield on Hadley Road, including the engine running rough and the subsequent forced landing. However, he did recall that prior to takeoff, the airplane and engine were operating fine and he had set the fuel selector to the right wing fuel tank.

Investigators determined there was no debris or water in the fuel in the plane and that the fuel lines were clear. The filter screens in the carburetor were also clean as was the the oil in the engine of the 1956 Piper PA-22 150.

The fuel selector was found in the near “off” position, but the Deputy Chief of the Laconia Fire Department told investigators it was set to the “right” tank when they arrived and turned it to what they thought was the off position for safety purposes.

When investigators examined the fuel selector they noted that when it was manually moved and set to each tank position, it was very difficult to feel when the valve seated into its respective detent. When Volpe was asked if he had any previously problems with the fuel selector not seating in the detents, he said no. But he did acknowledge that they were hard to feel. So much so, that when he first started flying the airplane he didn’t realize that the fuel selector had any detents until after he logged about 10 hours in the pilot’s seat.

Volpe who owns and operates Melcher & Prescott Insurance with his son Chris, had logged 937 hours of flight time, 21 of which were in the accident airplane. In 2015, he had flown the airplane about 2.5 hours.

A witness told investigators that she heard the airplane on the takeoff roll and turned around to watch it depart. When she saw the airplane it was just starting to climb toward the south and the engine was "spitting and sputtering."

She recounted that the airplane started a right turn toward her, but felt that the pilot saw her standing there so he banked to the left. The pilot then pulled up to avoid hitting a house, entered a right turn and descended into a field.

 The witness said that as the red and white airplane climbed over the house, there was a quick surge in engine power before it made a "pop, pop" sound followed by a total loss of power. She said the pilot was flying the airplane the entire time, but was "in trouble" from the time he took-off, up until the impact.

Laconia firefighters responded shortly after the crash was reported about 8:15 a.m. and used hydraulic tools to free Volpe from the wreckage. He sustained serious injuries, including damage to the vertebra in his back, and was hospitalized at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Source: http://www.citizen.com





http://registry.faa.gov/N2569P

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA241
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, June 18, 2015 in Laconia, NH
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/17/2016
Aircraft: PIPER PA-22, registration: N2569P
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot/owner was conducting a personal flight in the airplane. A witness reported that, during takeoff, the airplane's engine sputtered and then stopped producing power. The witness further reported that the pilot maneuvered the airplane to avoid hitting people and a house before the airplane descended and impacted a field. The pilot did not remember the accident but did recall that, before takeoff, the engine was operating normally and that he had set the fuel selector valve to the right tank. When first responders arrived on scene, they turned the fuel selector from the right tank position to the off position for safety reasons. 

A postaccident examination of the airplane found sufficient fuel onboard and no evidence of preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the engine or its accessories that would have precluded normal operation. During the examination, it was noted that when the fuel selector was manually moved and set to each tank position, it was very difficult to feel when the valve seated into each respective detent. When the pilot was asked if he had any previous problems with the fuel selector not seating in the detents, he said no. However, he did acknowledge that the detents were hard to feel and commented that when he first started flying the airplane, he did not realize that the fuel selector had any detents until he had flown the airplane for about 10 hours. Although possible, since the valve was moved by first responders after the accident, it could not be determined if the loss of engine power was the result of an improperly seated fuel selector valve.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A total loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined because of insufficient evidence found during postaccident examination of the airframe and engine.




HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 18, 2015, about 0845 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-22-150, N2569P, was substantially damaged when it made a forced landing to a field shortly after takeoff from a private airstrip in Laconia, New Hampshire. The private pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no visual flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

A witness stated that she heard the airplane on the takeoff roll and turned around to watch it depart. When she saw the airplane it was just starting to climb toward the south and the engine was "spitting and sputtering." The witness said the airplane started a right turn toward her but felt that the pilot saw her standing there so he banked to the left. The pilot then pulled up to avoid hitting a house, entered a right turn and descended into a field. The witness said that as the airplane climbed over the house, there was a quick surge in engine power before it made a "pop, pop" sound followed by a total loss of power. She said the pilot was flying the airplane the entire time, but was "in trouble" from the time he took-off up until the impact. 

The pilot stated that he did not remember a "single aspect" of the accident after he took off including the engine running rough and subsequent forced landing. However, he did recall that prior to takeoff, the airplane and engine were operating fine and he had set the fuel selector valve to the right wing fuel tank. 

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot, age 81, held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane and a second-class medical issued on October 13, 2014. He reported a total of 937 total flight hours, of which, 21 hours were in the accident airplane. In the past year, he had flown the airplane about 2.5 hours.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The two-seat, high-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number 22-2932, was manufactured in 1956. A review of the airplane's maintenance logbooks revealed the airplane was restored and the Lycoming O-320-A2B engine and was overhauled in 2011. The engine was equipped with a Sensenich 74DM6-0-58, fixed-pitch propeller. Since overhaul, the airplane and engine had accrued about 19 hours. The last annual inspection was completed on June 6, 2014. Since that time, the airplane and engine had accrued about 2.5 hours. 

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION 

Weather reported at Laconia Municipal Airport (LCI), Laconia, New Hampshire, at 0835, was reported as wind from 250 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 17 degrees Celsius, dewpoint 12 degrees Celsius, and a barometric pressure setting of 30.07 inches mercury.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

On-scene examination of the airplane revealed that it came to rest upright in a field on a heading of 266 degrees a few hundred yards southwest of the runway. From the point of impact to where the airplane came to rest was about 40 feet. All major components of the airframe were at the site and there was no post-impact fire. Both wings and the firewall sustained substantial damage. The empennage and tail control surfaces were not damaged.

The right wing sustained impact damage and both struts were bent. The fuel tank was intact and about 10 gallons of 100LL gasoline was drained from the tank. The fuel was absent of water and debris. The right main landing gear was torn from the airplane during impact.

The left wing sustained impact damage to the tip. The fuel tank was intact and about 10 gallons of 100LL gasoline was drained from the tank.The fuel was absent of debris and water.

Flight control continuity was established for all flight controls from the cockpit to the control surface.

The fuel selector was found in the near "off" position; however, according to the Assistant Chief of the Laconia Fire Department, the fuel selector was set to the "right" tank when they arrived on-scene.They turned it to what they thought was the off position for safety purposes. It was noted during the examination of the fuel selector that when it was manually moved and set to each tank position, it was very difficult to feel when the valve seated into its respective detent. When the pilot was asked if he had any previous problems with the fuel selector not seating in the detents, he said no. But, he did acknowledge that they were hard to feel. So much so, that when he first started flying the airplane he didn't realize that the fuel selector had any detents until he had flown the airplane for about 10 hours. 

Shop air was blown through the fuel lines from each tank down to the carburetor. All lines were clear. The gascolater was torn from the firewall and the bowl had separated during impact.

The engine sustained some impact damage, but all major accessories remained securely attached to the engine. The two-bladed propeller had separated from the engine and one blade was bent aft and exhibited gouging along the leading edge. Due to impact damage and the propeller being separated, a test-run of the engine was not possible. The other blade appeared undamaged. The engine was manually rotated via the crankshaft flange and compression and valve train continuity were produced for each cylinder. The spark plugs were removed and appeared new when compared to the Champion spark plug wear chart. The magnetos were removed and spun. Spark was produced to each ignition lead.

Continuity of the throttle and mixture controls was established from the cockpit to the carburetor. The carburetor was removed and disassembled. The finger screen was absent of debris and about 1-ounce of fuel was drained from the carburetor bowl. The fuel was absent of debris and water.The floats were intact and undamaged. Fuel squirted out of the accelerator pump chamber when manipulated.

The primer handle in the cockpit was full forward, but it was not locked. 

The oil plug was removed and a sufficient amount of honey-colored oil was observed.The oil screen was removed and was absent of debris.

No pre mishap mechanical deficiencies were noted with the engine or airplane that would have precluded normal operation at the time of the accident.

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