Sunday, August 14, 2016

Piper PA-31-325 Navajo, N447SA, owned by Oxford University Aircraft Charters LLC and operated by the pilot: Fatal accident occurred August 14, 2016 near Tuscaloosa Regional Airport (KTCL), Alabama

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Analysis

The private pilot and five passengers departed on a day instrument flight rules cross-country flight in the multiengine airplane. Before departure, the airplane was serviced to capacity with fuel, which corresponded to an endurance of about 5 hours. About 1 hour 45 minutes after reaching the flight's cruise altitude of 12,000 ft mean sea level, the pilot reported a failure of the right engine fuel pump and requested to divert to the nearest airport. About 7 minutes later, the pilot reported that he "lost both fuel pumps" and stated that the airplane had no engine power. The pilot continued toward the diversion airport and the airplane descended until it impacted trees about 1,650 ft short of the approach end of the runway; a postimpact fire ensued.

Postaccident examination of the airframe and engines revealed no preimpact failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. The propellers of both engines were found in the unfeathered position. All six of the fuel pumps on the airplane were functionally tested or disassembled, and none exhibited any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation before the accident. Corrosion was noted in the right fuel boost pump, which was likely the result of water contamination during firefighting efforts by first responders.

The airplane was equipped with 4 fuel tanks, comprising an outboard and an inboard fuel tank in each wing. The left and right engine fuel selector valves and corresponding fuel selector handles were found in the outboard tank positions. Given the airplane's fuel state upon departure and review of fuel consumption notes in the flight log from the day of the accident, the airplane's outboard tanks contained sufficient fuel for about 1 hour 45 minutes of flight, which corresponds to when the pilot first reported a fuel pump anomaly to air traffic control. The data downloaded from the engine data monitor was consistent with both engines losing fuel pressure due to fuel starvation.

According to the pilot's operating handbook, after reaching cruise flight, fuel should be consumed from the outboard tanks before switching to the inboard tanks. Two fuel quantity gauges were located in the cockpit overhead switch panel to help identify when the pilot should return the fuel selectors from the outboard fuel tanks to the inboard fuel tanks. A flight instructor who previously flew with the pilot stated that this was their normal practice. He also stated that the pilot had not received any training in the accident airplane to include single-engine operations and emergency procedures. It is likely that the pilot failed to return the fuel selectors from the outboard to the inboard tank positions once the outboard tanks were exhausted of fuel; however, the pilot misdiagnosed the situation as a fuel pump anomaly. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: 

A total loss of power in both engines due to fuel starvation as a result of the pilot's fuel mismanagement, and his subsequent failure to follow the emergency checklist. Contributing to the pilot's failure to follow the emergency checklist was his lack of emergency procedures training in the accident airplane. 

Findings

Aircraft
Fuel - Fluid management (Cause)

Personnel issues
Use of checklist - Pilot (Cause)
Lack of action - Pilot (Cause)
Total instruct/training recvd - Pilot (Factor)
Training with equipment - Pilot (Factor)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Enroute-cruise
Fuel starvation (Defining event)

Approach-IFR final approach
Collision during takeoff/land

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Hartzell Propeller, Piqua, Ohio

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf 


Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N447SA

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Northport, AL
Accident Number: ERA16FA289
Date & Time: 08/14/2016, 1115 CDT
Registration: N447SA
Aircraft: PIPER PA 31
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel starvation
Injuries: 6 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 14, 2016, about 1115 central daylight time, a Piper PA-31-325, N447SA, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Northport, Alabama, while diverting to Tuscaloosa Regional Airport (TCL), Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The private pilot and five passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was owned by Oxford University Aircraft Charters, LLC and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which departed Kissimmee Gateway Airport (ISM), Orlando, Florida, about 0855 with an intended destination of Oxford University Airport (UOX), Oxford, Mississippi.

According to the fixed-based operator that serviced the airplane before departure, the pilot and passengers arrived at ISM on August 10. Fuel receipts indicated that the airplane's fuel tanks were "topped off" with 134 gallons of fuel before departure on the day of the accident. In the filed flight plan, the pilot reported that the airplane had about 5 hours 10 minutes of fuel on board.

According to air traffic control data, at 0915 the airplane leveled off in cruise flight at 12,000 ft mean sea level. At 1059, the pilot reported a failure of the right engine fuel pump and requested a diversion to the nearest airport. The controller then provided radar vectors toward runway 30 at TCL. When the airplane was about 13 miles from TCL, the pilot reported that the airplane "lost both fuel pumps" and that there was "no power." The airplane continued to descend on an extended final approach to runway 30 until it impacted trees about 1,650 ft short of the approach end of the runway. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 41, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/01/2014
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/14/2014
Flight Time:  749.7 hours (Total, all aircraft), 48.7 hours (Total, this make and model), 25.1 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 7 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multi-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued in August 2014. According to a flight log found in the airplane, the pilot had accumulated 48.7 hours of flight experience in the accident airplane since March 2016.

The pilot's logbook noted that he received a total of 2.9 hours of dual flight instruction during two flights on March 17, 2016. The flight instructor who flew with the pilot on March 17 and accompanied him on several other flights stated that he did not provide the pilot with any multi-engine training and he believed that the pilot had not received any training in the accident airplane. The pilot "took the airplane pilot operating handbook home and read it." In addition, the flight instructor did not practice any single-engine operations or emergency procedures with the pilot in the accident airplane. He stated that they couldn't practice those procedures with "people in the airplane and we always flew" with passengers. When asked about the pilot's checklist usage, he stated that the pilot would use the checklists and "go through the cockpit like [he] should."

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N447SA
Model/Series: PA 31 325
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1984
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 318312016
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 11/13/2015, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 6499 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 187 Hours
Engines: 2 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3447.8 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: C126 installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: TIO-540-J2B
Registered Owner: Oxford University Aircraft Charters LLC
Rated Power: 350 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1984, and purchased by the pilot through a limited-liability company on March 14, 2016.. It was equipped with two Lycoming TIO-540-series, 350-horsepower engines, each of which drove a 4-bladed Hartzell controllable pitch propeller. The most recent annual inspection was performed on November 13, 2015; at that time, the airplane had accumulated 3,260.8 total hours in service.

According to a flight log squawk list, the right engine fuel boost pump light illuminated several times in the month before the accident. The right engine fuel pump was reported as intermittent, the right fuel pressure gauge was oscillating, and the "[right engine] doesn't want to run [without] boost pump." According to receipts located at the accident site, the fuel boost pump annunciator light illuminated and the pump was tested on June 25, 2016. The fuel pressure and flow were found to be within operating limitations at that time. According to maintenance records, the right engine-driven fuel pump and right engine boost pump were replaced on July 19, 2016, at a Hobbs meter time of 1433.7 hours, about 17 hours before the accident.

According to the flight instructor who flew the accident airplane with the pilot, neither he nor the pilot experienced any right engine fuel pump issues after the engine-driven fuel pump and emergency boost pump were replaced in July. The flight instructor spoke with the pilot after the flight to ISM on August 10, and the pilot stated that, "everything was fine, but the screen on the EDM was going out."

The flight log squawk list also included an entry made by the pilot on August 10, 2016 that the right engine cylinder No. 1 was "hot on climb." The log also contained an entry dated the day of the accident that the right engine cylinder No. 1 was "hot on climb" and "ran rich of peak = 31", 2200, 23 gal/side, and EDM [engine data monitor] screen flicker."

According to the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH), the fuel system of the airplane consisted of fuel cells, engine driven fuel pumps, fuel boost pumps, emergency fuel pumps, fuel injectors, control valves, fuel filters, fuel pressure and flow gauges, fuel drains, fuel tanks vents, and a fuel selector panel. Fuel was stored in four fuel tanks, two in each wing. The outboard fuel tanks have a capacity of 40 gallons each, and the inboard fuel tanks have a capacity of 56 gallons each, for a total fuel capacity of 192 gallons, 183.4 gallons of which is usable.

The right and left wing fuel systems were independent of each other and were connected only when the crossfeed system was activated. Under normal operation, fuel was routed from the fuel cells, through the selector valve and fuel filter to the fuel boost pump. Fuel from the boost pump travels through the emergency fuel pump, the fire wall shutoff valve and the engine driven fuel pump to the fuel injector and then into the cylinders.

Emergency fuel pumps are installed to provide fuel pressure in the event an engine-driven pump fails. The emergency fuel pumps are also used under normal conditions for takeoff, landing, and when necessary, priming the engines for start. Left and right emergency fuel pump switches are located on the overhead panel to the right of the fuel gauges in the cockpit.

The fuel boost pumps are operated continuously and are provided to maintain fuel under pressure to the other fuel pumps, improving the altitude performance of the fuel system. Each fuel boost pump was controlled by a separate circuit breaker located in the circuit breaker control panel. The fuel boost pumps were activated when the master switch was turned on and continue to operate until the master switch was turned off or the fuel boost pump circuit breakers were pulled (off). Red fuel boost pump warning lights, mounted in the annunciator panel, provided a visual indication of an inoperative fuel boost pump.

The fuel management controls were located in the fuel system control panel mounted between the front seats on the forward edge of the wing spar carry-through cover. Located on the fuel control panel are the fuel tank selectors, fire wall fuel shutoffs and the crossfeed controls.

Two electric fuel quantity gauges were mounted in the overhead switch panel. The right fuel quantity gauge indicated that quantity of the fuel in the selected right fuel system tank (right inboard or right outboard), and the left fuel quantity gauge indicated the quantity of the fuel in the selected left fuel tank (inboard or outboard).

Section 4, "Normal Procedures" in the POH recommended that when the airplane is loaded to a rearward center of gravity, fuel from the outboard tanks be used first during cruise flight. In addition, the flight instructor who flew with the pilot stated that they would check the fuel selectors and verify that they were on the inboard fuel tanks before takeoff; once the airplane was in cruise flight, they would switch to the outboard fuel tanks. Once the outboard fuel tanks were "drained," they would switch the fuel selectors back to the inboard fuel tanks. He stated that there was enough fuel for about 2 hours of flight time in the outboard fuel tanks.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: TCL, 186 ft msl
Observation Time: 1121 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 232°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2600 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 25°C
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3600 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots/ 14 knots, 170°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: ORLANDO, FL (ISM)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: OXFORD, MS (UOX)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 0855 CDT
Type of Airspace:

The 1121 recorded weather observation at TCL included wind from 170° at 10 knots gusting to 14 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 2,600 ft above ground level, broken clouds at 3,600 ft above ground level, temperature 30°C, dew point 25°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.09 inches of mercury.

Airport Information

Airport: TUSCALOOSA RGNL (TCL)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 169 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 30
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 4001 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing:   Forced Landing; Straight-in 

TCL was located 3 miles northwest of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, at an elevation of 169.9 ft. It had two runways: 4/22 and 12/30. Runway 4/22 was 6,499 ft long by 150 ft wide, and runway 12/30 was 4,001 ft long by 100 ft wide. At the time of the accident, the airport had an operating control tower between the hours of 0500-2200.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 5 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None 
Total Injuries: 6 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 33.222778, -87.599722 

The airplane impacted trees and the ground, and came to rest in an upright position on a magnetic heading of 011°. The debris path was oriented on a 300° magnetic heading and was about 250 ft long. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. A postimpact fire ensued, and first responders doused the wreckage with water to extinguish the fire.

The forward fuselage was separated forward of the aft bulkhead and was heavily damaged by impact and postimpact fire. Control continuity was confirmed from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit through multiple overload failures. Examination of the cockpit and cabin areas revealed that both control yokes were attached to their respective columns at the time of impact and that the throttle, mixture, and propeller levers were intact in the throttle quadrant and in the full forward position. The left and right engine fuel selector levers were found in the outboard tank positions. The left and right fuel shut off valves were found in the ON position (not shut off) and the crossfeed selector was found in the OFF position. All fuel control positions were confirmed at the fuel valves. The right engine alternate air source was found in the ON position. The left engine alternate air source was found in the OFF position. The flap lever was in the retracted position. The Hobbs meter was located in the vicinity of the cockpit and indicated 1450.4 hours. The circuit breaker panel was thermally damaged; all of the breakers remained in place except the flap control and compass circuit breakers, which were open.

The right wing was fragmented and partially separated and all sections were located along the debris path. Several sections were consumed by postimpact fire. The right wing fuel caps remained intact and seated in place. Both the outboard and inboard fuel tanks were breached. The fuel filter bowl was removed and had an odor similar to 100LL aviation fuel; a small amount of fluid was noted on the fuel screens. The right main landing gear remained attached in the retracted position. The aileron trim was measured and corresponded to the neutral position.

The right engine remained attached to all engine mounts but was separated from the nacelle. All major components remained attached to the engine. The turbocharger was removed and examined, and the vanes rotated without resistance. There was no rotational scoring on the housing unit. The right propeller remained attached to the engine in the unfeathered position and was rotated by hand. Two propeller blades were bent aft and the other two remained straight. Crankshaft continuity was confirmed from the propeller to the accessory section of the engine. Thumb compression and suction were observed on cylinder Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 6. The No. 5 cylinder was impact damaged. The No. 3 cylinder was removed from the engine and no anomalies were noted with the cylinder, piston, or piston rings.

The left wing was fragmented and partially separated, and all sections were located along the debris path. Several sections were consumed by postimpact fire. The left main landing gear was in the retracted position. Both outboard and inboard fuel tanks were breached; the inboard tank contained an unmeasured amount of fuel.

The left engine was separated from the nacelle and remained attached to the engine mounts. The turbocharger was removed; the turbocharger vanes rotated without resistance. There was no rotational scoring on the housing unit. The left propeller remained attached to the engine in the unfeathered position and was rotated by hand. Two propeller blades were bent aft and the other two remained straight. Crankshaft continuity was confirmed from the propeller to the accessory section of the engine. Thumb compression and suction were observed on all cylinders when the propeller was rotated.

The empennage remained attached to the fuselage. The left and right elevators and horizontal stabilizers were impact damaged, partially separated, and located along the debris path. The vertical stabilizer was partially separated from the empennage and the leading edge exhibited impact damage. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer; however, the top 12-inch section of the rudder and balance weight were separated and located along the debris path. The rudder trim was measured and corresponded to about 50 percent nose-left trim. The elevator trim was measured and corresponded to the neutral position. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences Medical Examiner's Office, Montgomery, Alabama performed the autopsy on the pilot. The autopsy report indicated that the pilot died as a result of multiple blunt force injuries.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of the pilot. Fluid and tissue specimens from the pilot tested negative for carbon monoxide, ethanol, and other drugs. 

Tests And Research

Engine-Driven Fuel Pump Examinations

The right engine-driven fuel pump was examined at the manufacturer facility. The drive coupling was intact but would not rotate; therefore, it was disassembled for further examination. The relief valve diaphragm was thermally damaged but remained intact. The drive coupling was removed; the drive tang did not exhibit any damage and the teeth were intact. The rear bearing of the pump remained intact and was not cracked. The rear bearing O-ring was pliable. The rear carbon bearing was removed and revealed that the pump liner and rotor exhibited corrosion. The main bearing did not exhibit any cracks or chips. There were no anomalies noted with the right engine-driven fuel pump.

The left engine-driven fuel pump examination revealed that the fuel pump drive coupling was intact, and the fuel pump rotated in both directions by hand. The fuel pump was mounted to a test stand and in a cruise power setting, it had a low outlet pressure. When the lock nut was loosened a half turn to adjust the pressure, the engine driven fuel pump passed the cruise power flow test requirements.

Emergency Fuel Pump Examinations

The right engine emergency fuel pump was examined at the manufacturer facility and revealed all surfaces of the pump were black and thermally discolored. The pump was disassembled, and the flow control was in the partial bypass position and unable to move as a result of corrosion. The rotor and cavity chamber were discolored, and the vanes were seized in the rotor slots. There was no evidence of a coil winding overheat condition present in the electric fuel pump. There were no anomalies noted with the right engine electric fuel pump aside from the postimpact fire damage.

The left engine emergency fuel pump examination revealed that the flow control/relief valve was in the partial bypass position in the flow housing. The flow control valve moved without anomaly. The electric fuel pump was mounted to a test bench and operated within all pressure, flow, and current limits. The pump was disassembled, and no anomalies were noted that would have precluded normal operation.

Fuel Boost Pump Examinations

The right fuel boost pump was examined at the manufacturer facility. The pump exhibited thermal damage to the exterior. When looking into the outlet port, the non-metal portions of the relief/bypass valve assembly were melted away. When the pump was handled, soot fell out of the fluid ports. Further disassembly of the right fuel boost pump revealed that the wear plate spring, the aluminum housing, blades, and rotor were corroded. The field assembly magnets were fractured and thermally damaged.

The left fuel boost pump examination revealed that the cable-actuated ball valve was in the open position. The pump was installed onto a test stand and operated with manufacturer test requirements for operating pressure, fuel flow volume, and electrical consumption in amperes.

Engine Data Monitor – JPI

An engine data monitor was recovered from the cockpit and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC, for data download. Review of the downloaded data revealed that the accident flight was recorded in its entirety from 0851 to 1120. According to the data, the right engine exhibited an erratic fuel flow beginning around 1105. The recorded fuel flow continued to be erratic and increased to around 110 gallons per hour until the fuel flow decreased at the end of the recording. The right engine turbine inlet temperature, exhaust gas temperature, and cylinder head temperatures all began decreasing within a few minutes after the right engine fuel flow became erratic. The left engine fuel flow became erratic around 1113. The recorded fuel flow continued to be erratic and then increased to over 90 gallons per hour until it decreased at the end of the recording. In addition, the left engine turbine inlet temperature, exhaust gas temperatures, and cylinder head temperatures began to decrease within a minute of the left fuel flow becoming erratic.

Additional Information

Normal Procedures Checklist

According to the cruise checklist found in the POH, the following items should be completed.

Fuel Selectors – OUTBOARD OR INBOARD
Power – Set
Cowl Flaps – As required
Mixture – Leaned

Emergency Procedures Checklist – Engine Failure During Flight

According to the checklist found in the POH, the following items should be completed.

Inop eng – identify
Operative eng – adjust as required
Airspeed – attain and maintain at least 97 KIAS

Before securing inop. Engine:
Fuel flow – Check (if deficient – emergency fuel pump ON)
Fuel quantity – check
Fuel selector (inop. Engine) – Switch to other tank containing fuel
Oil pressure and temp – check
Magneto switches – check
Air Start - attempt

Fuel Performance Calculations


Using the fuel consumption rate of 23 gallons per hour per engine noted in the pilot's flight log entry for the accident flight, the fuel endurance for the outboard fuel tanks was about 1 hour, 45 minutes.




Location: Northport, AL
Accident Number: ERA16FA289
Date & Time: 08/14/2016, 1120 CDT
Registration: N447SA
Aircraft: PIPER PA 31-325
Injuries: 6 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On August 14, 2016, about 1120 central daylight time, a Piper PA-31-325, N447SA, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Northport, Alabama, while diverting to Tuscaloosa Regional Airport (TCL), Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The private pilot and five passengers were fatally injured. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed Kissimmee Gateway Airport (ISM), Orlando, Florida, around 0855, with an intended destination of Oxford University Airport (UOX), Oxford, Mississippi.

According to fuel receipts, the airplane's fuel tanks were "topped off" with 134 gallons of fuel prior to departing ISM.

According to preliminary air traffic control data, the pilot reported a failure of a fuel pump and requested a diversion to the nearest airport around 1111. The controller the provided radar vectors toward runway 30 at TCL. When the airplane was approximately 10 miles from TCL, the pilot reported that the airplane lost "the other fuel pump." The airplane continued to descend until it impacted trees approximately 1,650 feet prior to the approach end of runway 30.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent third-class medical certificate was issued in August 2014. According to a flight log found in the airplane, the pilot had accumulated 48.7 hours of flight time in the accident airplane since March 2016.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1984, and issued an airworthiness certificate in 1998. It was equipped with two Lycoming TIO-540-series, 350- horsepower, engines. It was also equipped with two 4-bladed Hartzell controllable pitch propellers. The most recent annual inspection was performed on November 13, 2015, and at that time the airplane had accumulated 3,260.8 total hours of time in service.

The airplane impacted trees, the ground, and came to rest in an upright position. The wreckage was oriented on a 011 degree magnetic heading, the debris path was oriented on a 300 degree magnetic heading, and was approximately 250 feet in length. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene.

The fuselage was separated prior to the aft bulkhead and was heavily damaged by impact and a post impact fire. Flight control continuity was confirmed from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit through multiple overload fractures. Examination of the cockpit and cabin areas revealed that both control yokes were attached to their respective columns at the time of impact and that the throttle, mixture, and propeller levers were intact in the throttle quadrant, and in the full forward position.

The left engine was separated from the nacelle and remained attached to the engine mounts. The left engine turbocharger was removed from the engine and examined. The turbocharger vanes rotated without resistance. There was no rotational scoring on the housing unit. The left propeller remained attached to the left engine, was in the unfeathered position, and was rotated by hand. Crankshaft continuity was confirmed from the propeller to the accessory section of the engine. Thumb compression and suction were observed on all cylinders when the propeller was rotated.

The right engine remained attached to all engine mounts but was separated from the right nacelle. All major components remained attached to the engine. The right engine turbocharger was removed and examined. The right turbocharger vanes rotated without resistance. There was no rotational scoring on the housing unit. The right propeller remained attached to the right engine, in the unfeathered position, and was rotated by hand. Crankshaft continuity was confirmed from the propeller to the accessory section of the engine. Thumb compression and suction were observed on Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 6, cylinders. The No. 5 cylinder was impact damaged. The No. 3 cylinder was removed from the engine and no anomalies were noted with the cylinder, piston, or piston rings.

An engine data monitor and fuel flow meter gauge were found in the main wreckage area, retained for further examination. The left engine gear driven fuel pump, the right engine gear driven fuel pump, the right boost pump, and the right emergency pump were also retained for further examination.

The 1121 recorded weather observation at TCL included wind from 170 at 10 knots, gusting to 14 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 2,600 feet above ground level, broken clouds at 3,600 feet above ground level, temperature 30 degrees C, dew point 25 degrees C, and a barometric altimeter setting of 30.09 inches of mercury.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N447SA
Model/Series: PA 31-325 325
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No  
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: TCL, 186 ft msl
Observation Time: 1121 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 25°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2600 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots/ 14 knots, 170°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3600 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: ORLANDO, FL (ISM)
Destination: OXFORD, MS (UOX) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 5 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 6 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 33.222778, -87.599722 







Drs. Jason and Lea Farese

Dr. Michael Perry and his wife, Kim.

Dr. Austin Poole and his wife, Angie.


A plane crash in Tuscaloosa County has killed six people, three married couples who had attended a dental conference in Florida, and left a total of 11 children behind.

"It's tragic to lose these wonderful Mississippians. Deborah and I pray for the loved and lost, their families and friends,'' said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. "Life can be so uncertain, so we depend on the blessing of eternal life and reuniting. May God assauage the families' sorrow and hold them all in the palm of his hand."

The crash happened about 11:20 a.m. just east of the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport in Northport. The crash site is in a wooded field of Van de Graaff Park near an area known as Gate 1.

Tuscaloosa police Lt. Teena Richardson confirmed the six deaths. Northport police officials on the scene said the plane is not intact. 

Richardson said the plane was traveling from Kissimmee, Florida en route to Oxford, Miss. when the pilot reported engine problems. The pilot sent out distress call, and the plane went down behind the farmers market in Northport.

According to Flightaware.com, an Oxford University Aircraft Charters departed the Florida airport at 9:55 a.m. but was diverted.

Three couples -- three men and three women -- were on board. Authorities have spoken with the pilot's brother. Despite widespread speculation that the plane had direct ties to Ole Miss, university spokesman Ryan Whittington said those onboard are not affiliated directly to the school. 

Ole Miss Chancellor Jeff Vitter said the crash was a "heartbreaking loss."

According to the Oxford Eagle, among the deceased are Dr. Jason Farese and his wife, Lea, both dentists, a family member and employee of Dr. Farese has confirmed with The EAGLE. The Farese's leave three children behind, ages 10, 7, and 5. The youngest just started kindergarten this week.

According to their dental practice website, Dr. Jason Farese was a native of Ashland, Mississippi, a 1997 graduate of Vanderbilt University, where he was an athlete. He obtained his dental degree from the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry. Upon graduation, Dr. Farese practiced dentistry at the North Benton County Health Center for two years.

Dr. Lea Farese also graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry with her dental degree in 2004. She is a native of Pearl, Mississippi and is a 1998 graduate of Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi.  She also practiced dentistry for 1 ½ years at the North Benton County Health Center. She has been practicing dentistry in Oxford since 2004.

Dr. Michael Perry, a periodontist, and his wife Kimberly, who is  nurse, and Dr. Austin Poole and his wife Angie, were also on the plane, the Eagle reported. The Pooles had five children.

Terry Lloyd, director of aviation for Kissimmee Gateway Airport, said it's his information that the three couples had been in Florida for a medical convention. "It's a terrible tragedy,'' Lloyd said. 

Officials at the Oxford-University Airport, which is owned and operated by the university, told AL.com they have not received any official information about the crash.

Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration arrived at the scene at approximately 3:25 p.m. As of 7:30 p.m., FAA officials had left the scene and NTSB officials were expected to arrive first thing Monday morning. Tuscaloosa County officials were still on the scene photographing and diagramming the crash site.

The bodies of all six victims have been removed and taken to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Montgomery for autopsies.

"It's a sad day," Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon told reporters gathered at the scene. "We want everybody to pray for the families." 

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox credited the joint efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies and fire departments that responded to the crash.

"It really speaks to the collective response of all the different agencies that were involved," Maddox said.

FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac said the Piper PA-31 crashed into trees on approach to Runway 30. The flight departed Kissimmee Gateway Airport.

Pieces of the plane can be seen from the park's entrance on Robert Cardinal Road.

Van de Graaff Park is home to the state's oldest iron bridge. Northport officials said that the crash did not damage the bridge.

A woman who lives nearby, Wykita McVay, heard what she described as a "loud boom." She heard two booms, but didn't think it was anything to be worried about. 

She and her father said that loud noises are common in the area because of the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport. 

McVay said she "came out [to the crash scene] to see what was going on." 

She said it was "crazy" that a plane had crashed just minutes from her home.

Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy said that the crash is a "very sad situation." He did not give any details about the flight plan or the plane's distress call, but did say that the plane was a "small aircraft."

"It's very unfortunate," he said. Abernathy added that the plane was a "short, short distance from the runway." 

As for learning the cause of the crash, the sheriff said that the crash investigation will be a "long, deliberate investigation."

Source:   http://www.al.com








Heidi Kenmer, the National Transportation Safety Board investigator, appeared at the sheriff's hangar at the airport to give a press briefing on the status of her investigation of Sunday's plane crash.



There were no survivors after a plane crashed while attempting to make an emergency landing at the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport on Sunday morning.

Six people died when the small aircraft crashed in a wooded, swampy park just east of the airport.

The pilot issued a distress signal around 11:10 a.m., Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon said. Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue crews stationed at the airport were based at the foot of the towers on the runway where the plane was set to land, Herndon said.

"Unfortunately, it didn't make it to the runway," he said.

No information about the possible cause of the crash was released Sunday.

The plane crashed in the wooded area of Van de Graaff Park just off Robert Cardinal Airport Road. The firefighters made it to the site within three minutes, but were unable to save the victims, Herndon said.

"They did everything they could," he said.

The 1984 Piper PA-31 Navaho registered to Oxford University Aircraft Charters LLC departed from Kissimmee Gateway Airport in Florida at 9:55 a.m. and was headed to Oxford, Mississippi, before the pilot diverted to Tuscaloosa.

"They were a very, very short distance from the runway," said Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy. "This is a very sad and very unfortunate situation."

Records show that the plane was registered to Jason Farese.

The Oxford Eagle reported Sunday that two passengers were Jason Farese and his wife Lea Farese, both dentists at Farese Family Dental in Oxford. The Fareses had three children, ages 10, 7 and 5, family members told the newspaper.

The paper identified the other victims as dentist Michael Perry and his wife, Kim, an Oxford dentist and nurse practitioner who worked at the University of Mississippi. They are survived by young children, the Eagle reported.

Also killed were dentist Austin Poole and his wife Angie, the parents of five children.

"There will be families hurting greatly because of this," Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox said.

The six had been at a continuing education seminar in Florida.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration arrived at the crash site Sunday afternoon. The FAA is assisting the National Transportation Safety Board with the investigation.

The Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office is leading the multi-agency investigation and is expected to release further information as soon as it becomes available.

It was unclear Sunday when the wreckage would be removed from the site or when names of all the victims would be released.

"We're very sad for the families affected by this and we want to make sure we have accurate information before releasing anything," Abernathy said. "These investigations are very, very deliberate in nature and take a long time to get to the true cause of everything."

Source:   http://www.tuscaloosanews.com


A plane enroute to Oxford crashed late this morning near Northport, Alabama, killing three married couples.

All six of the deceased are from Oxford, The EAGLE has learned.  They had been attending a dental seminar together in Florida.

Among the deceased are Oxford dentists Dr. Jason Farese and his wife, Dr. Lea Farese, a family member and employee of the Fareses has confirmed with The EAGLE.

Others killed in the crash are Dr. Michael Perry and his wife, Kim; and Dr. Austin Poole and his wife, Angie, sources have told The EAGLE.

Dr. Poole and his wife live in Wellsgate in Oxford, but his dental practice is in Clarksdale.

Dr. Perry graduated from Ole Miss and was a member of Kappa Sigma social fraternity. He graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry. He and his wife Kim had three children.

The Fareses, both dentists at Farese Family Dental in Oxford, left Wednesday for Florida, attending a dental continuing education seminar. They were returning home to Oxford this morning, the source said.

The Farese’s leave three children behind, ages 10, 7, and 5. The youngest just started kindergarten this week.

Three couples including the Fareses were on board the plane, officials said — three men and three women. The identities of the other two couples has not been confirmed, but both of the couples are from Oxford, the EAGLE has learned.

The other couples attended the dental seminar with the Farese’s and were returning home with them. Each of the couples has young children, but none of their children were on board the plane, according to reports.

The plane was operated by Oxford University Aircraft Charters LLC., according to flight information. Mississippi  Secretary of State records show the registered agent of the company Oxford University Aircraft Charters LLC. is Oxford dentist Dr. Jason Farese.

The address listed for the charter flight company is the same as Farese’s dental office, at 2212 West Jackson Avenue.

The plane is a Piper PA-31-325 Navajo. The plane left the Kissimmee Gateway airport in Florida at 9:55 a.m. eastern time this morning. Officials said they encountered engine problems around Tuscaloosa.

The crash occurred at about 11:20 a.m. this morning, east of the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport. Tuscaloosa police Lt. Teena Richardson told AL.com there are six deaths.

The plane went down behind the farmers market in Northport, officials said.

FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac told AL.com that the Piper PA-31 crashed into trees on approach to Runway 30. A woman who lives nearby told the news site that she heard two loud booms.

Dr. Jason Farese is a native of Ashland and a 1997 graduate of Vanderbilt. He attended the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry.

Dr. Lea Farese is a native of Pearl and she also graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry.


Source:   http://www.oxfordeagle.com































OXFORD, MS (WMC) - A small plane headed to Oxford, Mississippi crashed in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, on Sunday morning, killing all six people on board.

Northport Fire Chief Bart Marshal said a small fire was extinguished, but there were no survivors.

WMC Action News 5 confirmed Dr. Jason Farese and his wife, Dr. Lea Farese, both dentists in Oxford, MS, were killed in the crash. The couple has three children who were not on the plane. They were staying with friends, according to Dr. Farese's uncle, Steve Farese, who is a defense attorney in Memphis.

According to Farese Family Dental's website, Jason and Lea Farese both practiced dentistry together in Oxford since 2004. Jason is a native Ashland, MS, while Lea was raised in Pearl. 

Mayor Bill Luckett, of Clarksdale, Miss., confirms Dr. Austin Poole and his wife, Angie, were also killed. Dr. Poole operated a dental practice in Clarksdale. He and his wife leave behind five children.

Mayor Luckett's son is one of Jason Farese's cousins. 

"I've known him since he was born," Mayor Bill Luckett said. "He was a red-headed freckle face kid who was mischievous and fun."

Luckett also knew Austin and Angie Poole, not only from their thriving Clarksdale business, but also because they all liked to hunt.

"They love life. They were very energetic, outgoing, good people," Luckett recalled.

Our sister station, WBRC, in Birmingham, confirmed Dr. Michael Perry and his wife, Kim, were also killed. They leave behind three children. Dr. Perry has five dental practices located in Memphis, Collierville, Bartlett, Oxford, and Southaven.

"I cried. I don't know what to say," said Kevin Hooper, Dr. Perry's friend of 12 years. "Michael was the most energetic, the most fun. He always came into the room and had a smile on his face."

The airplane, a Piper PA-31-325 Navajo, departed Kissimmee, FL and filed an IFR flight plan for 12,000 feet, typical for this type of aircraft.

At some point around 11 a.m., the airplane began having problems. The pilot was on final for Runway 30 in Tuscaloosa when the crash happened; they were about 1,000 feet short of that runway. 

An NTSB investigator will conduct the investigation into what caused the plane to crash by documenting the scene, examining the wreckage, and requesting air traffic control communications and radar data.  

Jason Farese's father, John, survived a plane crash in 2011 because he had a parachute on board. His plane dropped out of the sky 50 seconds into the flight.

27 comments:

gretnabear said...

Per flight track at flightaware, issues apparently started at 12,000 ft, about 35 miles south of Tuscaloosa Regional Airport.

Anonymous said...

Ran mains dry at 2.5 hrs intop flight. Called in low fuel flow warning and diverted. Ignored Centreville airport well within gliding range. Aux tanks evidently full as fire in impact suggests. Fuel mismanagement?

gretnabear said...

Per flightaware: Departure from KISM at 09:55:00 EDT ; 12:00:12 EDT approx 35 SSE of Tuscaloosa Regional at coordinates 32.7742 -87.2447 started a descent from 12,000 ft. Bibb County Airport - 0A8 was 13 miles NNE.

Ed H said...

If what as Anonymous posted regarding the LOW FUEL FLOW light coming on then the main tanks were almost empty at that point. Those lights only illuminate when the pickup in the main tank is in danger of being unported such as low fuel level. That light does not indicate pressure from any source. The above article states a small fire was extinguished so I doubt the AUX tanks contained much fuel. This accident will most likely boil down to pre flight planning issues.

Norwood Wilner said...

The decision to ignore Bibb County with 4000'+ hard surface is hard to understand, regardless of the cause of the power loss. An unidentified post claimed ATC offered TCL or the interstate highway. If so, ATC shares blame for not giving an immediate vector to something well within power off glade range.

Anonymous said...

Pilot did not declare an emergency, ATC declared one for him when they realized the true nature of the situation. Let's wait for the transcript before we start pointing fingers. Pilot is PIC not ATC.

Anonymous said...

ATC can make suggestions such as when they offered Capt Sully a runway at Newark but he chose the Hudson River instead. Only the pilot can make that call. Experience is everything.

Norwood Wilner said...

Always true but if ATC did not offer Bibb as an option, its hard to explain. The NTSB prelim does not change the picture much. Double "fuel pump" failures (actually 4 pumps would need to fail) would be hard to understand, as there is no common root cause of double engine driven pumps failing within 5 minutes of each other. More likely is that the mains were running dry, and the pilot, surprised, stressed, and confused, fixated on a fuel pump failure as the explanation, forgetting to switch to the aux tanks. As the outbound flight had gone without reported incident, one would think the aux tanks had been used in that flight. However, perhaps the mishap flight burned more fuel due to mixture or power settings, and the low fuel situation in the mains was not anticipated, and thus a surprise, at that time. It is possible to consume main fuel within 2 hours using high power settings and rich mixtures for takeoff, climb, and cruise.

Norwood Wilner said...

On reflection, ATC does have an affirmative duty to aid aircraft in distress, whether emergencies are declared or not. N447SA was operating under IFR, so absent emergency authority, the pilot was required to fly his clearances. The undercast would have obscured both airports from view at 12000'. Bibb County was not on the flight plan route. We do not know what exactly was said to ATC, but in some other posting it was said ATC offered the interstate highway or Tuscaloosa. If the situation was serious enough to offer a highway, why would ATC not offer Bibb as a suggestion, well within even zero power glide.

Unfortunately the pilot errors have continued to add up, as both props were unfeathered. Assuming one engine (fuel) failure occurred at 1200 EDT, that propeller should have been feathered if power could not be restored. The flightaware profile shows no attempt was made to conserve altitude until a suitable field was assured.

Anonymous said...

Please take a look at a few things before jumping to conclusions. The trip down consumed 127 gallons at fuel burn @ 34 gallons/per hour. The airplane took 134 gallons fuel, so the airplane was full. Assume mains have total 108 gallons inboard. Outboards have approx 80 gallons. 2.2 hours fuel in outboards. Perhaps the flight was to that point on the outboards, thinking the flight was on the inboards, you would expect you have another hour of fuel, but the outboards were being used; this could lead you to think a fuel pump has failed. Perhaps maintenance was recently performed to a fuel pump and you would get distracted by that.

First the ideas about fuel managemnt issues with the inboards dont hold up. The inboards have more than 2 hours of fuel even firewalled. Perhaps the outboards were mistakenly used and fuel was exhausted. However, the reality is that fuel management may not have been the issue. Perhaps the engine driven pump failed, unlikely both engine driven pumps failed, unlikely engine driven pumps failed then boost pumps failed.

No doubt dead engines need feathered props. Perhaps one engine failed, never could two fail within 8 mins without fuel mismanagement. Had to descend to vfr conditions to locate the airport and alternatives (3600 broken). Assume the prop isnt feathered and you think the field TCL is made, prop unfeathered, one engine is still operating and you get behind power curve and cannot stretch distance and you realize you are too low. You try to add power to single remaining engine, realize you may not can climb coordinated with the nose up, and when you are slow the airplane doesnt have the proper elevator authority and you cannot pitch down to gain authority. That is a serious problem and when you are low and slow, there can be issues.

Fuel management. Maybe, but maybe not. This pilot clearly knew how to manage fuel, since he had far longer trips than this one in this airplane. Terrible tragedy; if both engine driven fuel pumps failed, this would be horrendous. Anything can happen; perhaps this one can be solved to save other pilots lives.

Norwood Wilner said...

According to NTSB, pilot announced a "second fuel pump failure" presumably of the remaining engine at 10 NM from TCL. Undoubtedly this was the second engine running the selected tank dry. We will have to wait to see where the fuel selectors were if that is recoverable. The pilot was unable to make the field and either stalled trying to stretch the glide or just hit short.

Fuel flow can reach nearly 40 gph per side in full power full rich (i.e. takeoff). Assuming full power was held to 12000', which could easily take 20 minutes at high weight, each engine would burn 13-14 gallons. Then 1 3/4 hours at high power cruise (22 gph per side) consumes 39 additional gallons, and you are out of fuel on the mains.

The mishap flight was at high groundspeeds (>200kts). Don't know the extent of the tailwinds, but its possible they had the power run up pretty high.

Double engine driven plus auxiliary pumps, both sides, simultaneously is z statistical zero. Accident analysis based on fanciful thinking does not help living pilots.

For an interesting comparison, see the October, 2015 mishap involving N55GK on approach to FXE. Apparently ran mains dry in a little over 2 hours.




Anonymous said...

Norwood,

You are in fact possibly correct. We will see when and if the fuel selector valves come back readable and their position. Eerily similar though on the times in flight and when the issues arose.

Thad Buck said...

Couldn't he look at his fuel gauges and tell he was out of fuel? How could he not know to switch to aux tanks? Probably something we will never know. I would like to know about his flight instructor too.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the NTSB database for this type of aircraft, there is one incident that occurred some time back due to fuel pump failure. In this flight the right engine was surging and was shut down by the pilot. A few minutes later the second engine quit. It was determined that the fuel pump shaft or bearing broke allowing trash or small pieces of debris to clog the lines. Question, Are the right and left side fuel lines shared with each other?

Anonymous said...

They are not connected except by a cross feed. Has to be switched on to cross feed.

Anonymous said...

I knew one of the girls on this plane well. I also have about 1500 hrs in a Navajo chieftain. With the same tio540 engines. Not to speak ill of the dead, but it does look like fuel Starvation that was not recognized. The aux tanks ran out and he didn't switch back to the mains I believe. Not securing a failed engine and feathering the prop? Nobody will ever know why. I've been in a couple of emergencies. Things happen fast in a short 10 or 15 minutes so I would never judge him. Recency of experience is a big thing in flying complex twins as is recurrent training. This comes from a 30 yr pilot with tons of Navajo and King air time. Some citation and 737 type rated as a captain. Again. Not judging. I wish I could have met and flown with the guy. Maybe a pointer or two from someone familiar with the Navajo could have helped.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, still fuel starvation has been the most obvious explanation; however, I cannot discount the fact that fuel gauges often do not work, and this could cause one to immediately tunnel in on a different issue, perhaps a fuel pump that was recently worked on. Emergencies are not fun, having been in a couple myself, never in an airplane this capable. Like you, I wondered about the aux theory immediately, thought you were on the mains, were burning the aux's instead, or on the aux's at cruise as per the recommendations, but dialed full throttle, exhausting them earlier than expected, etc. Explanation should be due in August. Always good to hear an expert's thoughts, especially one with some time in type. I knew the occupants as well, was one of the saddest days of my life.

Anonymous said...

Fact is. No matter what anyone read, there was a big fire when the plane crashed. There was plenty of fuel in the tanks. Unfortunately I know the details of how big the fire was. Planes don't burn up without fuel. I too am anxious to hear the ntsb report. Won't give closure but might give a wake up call to some pilots. That's the best to hope that can come from this. Many lives changed forever regardless. Unfortunately it's been happening to Drs and Lawyers for 60+ years.

Anonymous said...

Doctors and lawyers are the only people that die in airplane crashes?

Anonymous said...

It's just a saying in aviation. Some planes, years ago, were dubbed dr killers or lawyer killers. Stems from ones who can afford to upgrade to higher performance airplanes than what they are used to flying. Sometimes people get into situations where they are not "ahead of the airplane". It could apply to anyone able to afford a higher performance aircraft. I am really anxious to see the NTSB final determination.

Bluefish said...

LOW FUEL FLOW warning light is only associated with low fuel level in the main tank and it has nothing to do with pressure. The sending unit for this warning light is in the main tank at the inboard side closest to the wing root. It is a float switch to warn of impending engine failure due to low fuel level. The aux tanks do not have this system as they are not to be used for takeoff and landing ie critical phase of flight.

A LOW BOOST warning light IS a pressure warning and means there is less than 3 psi pressure in the supply lone between the tanks and the engine driven pump.

If the airplane was flying on the main tanks here's the sequence of events..

1. Flight would be normal until approx 5 gallons of fuel remaining,
2. Float switch would then make contact and send signal to fuel computer 10 seconds later the LOW FUEL FLOW warning light would come on and STAY ON until fuel is added to tank (impossible in flight)
3. Engine would operate normally until engine main tank burned the remaining fuel in the main tank (about 5 gallons)
4. As the tank ran dry the LOW BOOST warning light would come on (this light indicates low fuel pressure in the supply line) engine would quit within 3 seconds of a LOW BOOST light.

The only fix in flight when you see a LOW FUEL FLOW light is to land immediately or a witch to a tank with more fuel.

Remember a LOW FUEL FLOW light is main tank only because that switch is only in the main tanks.

A LOW BOOST light can be either tank because it indicates pressure from either tank.

Bluefish said...

So why was the props not feathered and cowl flaps open?

My guess is that the pilot had a severe case of tunnel vision fueled by his lack of system knowledge. He likely thought the engines were producing some power, other pilots have misinterpreted the power gauges in this manner and did not feather a dead engine. Also he might have opted to open the cowl flaps to cool engine (fuel lines) thinking he had a vapor lock of some sort. Still fuel management issues was the root cause of this accident.

Anonymous said...

Bluefish;
Tunnel vision from lack of system knowledge? Open cowl flaps? Where did you get that information? Sounds like you were on the airplane. I'm quite certain there were no survivors...lack of system knowledge? Maybe poor management of onboard fuel, but open cowl flaps, tunnel vision, etc. Unfeathered props was an issue. Power gauge misinterpretation? Perhaps you might want to wait for the final NTSB report before you make comments like maybe the cowl flaps were open, because honestly it never states that anywhere in the NTSB findings. Actually a little bit afraid of what you might ASSume next.

Bluefish said...

anonymous.. have no fear your posts assume more than enough to last until the report comes out. When you read the cowl flaps were open you can post your apology.

Anonymous said...

Is there a schedule for when the final report will come out? Does the NTSB indicate when they will release a final report? This incident has been on my mind since it happened and would just like to know when it is released. (Note: different Anonymous poster than the previous Anonymous)

Anonymous said...

Final NTSB report has been posted. Both engine fuel selector switches were in outboard tank position.

Anonymous said...

Does "Both engine fuel selector switches were in outboard tank position." indicate that the pilot failed to switch the tanks when the outboard tanks ran out of fuel?

I don't see indication of other issues and assume that the pilot would not have switched to the inboard tanks and then back to the outboard tanks but I'm also sure I don't understand all details in the report and their implications.