Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Piper PA-24-260, N11MT: Fatal accident occurred July 16, 2016 near Norwood Memorial Airport (KOWD), Norfolk County, Massachusetts


The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Burlington, Massachusetts 
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

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

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

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf
 
http://registry.faa.gov/N11MT

NTSB Identification: ERA16LA258
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 16, 2016 in Westwood, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/06/2017
Aircraft: PIPER PA24, registration: N11MT
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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

The private pilot/co-owner of the airplane departed on a roundtrip flight with the right main fuel tank full and the left main fuel tank "down about three gallons." He stated that, based on his preflight performance planning and visual inspection of the fuel supply, the fuel in the main tanks would be sufficient for the flight. The outbound leg was conducted with the fuel selector on the right main tank, and the return leg was flown with the fuel selector on the left main tank. Shortly after being cleared for landing near the end of the return leg, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power, and descended into wooded terrain about 1 mile from the airport.

Postaccident examination of the wreckage revealed that the right main fuel tank contained 2 gallons of fuel, that the left main tank was empty, and that both 15-gallon auxiliary fuel tanks were full. The engine was subsequently placed in a test cell where it started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran continuously at all power settings. The co-owner of the airplane stated that the left fuel tank leaked when the tank was full and that they mitigated the problem by not completely filling the left main fuel tank. The pilot likely mis-estimated the fuel available in the tanks during his preflight visual inspection, and it is likely that fuel leaked from the left tank during the flight, further reducing the available fuel quantity. These factors resulted in a loss of engine power consistent with fuel starvation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's improper fuel management, which resulted in exhaustion of the fuel in the selected fuel tank and a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.

Hylie "Lee" Hutchens, 77, succumbed to his injuries on July 20th, 2016 



Hylie "Lee" Hutchens stood with students at the annual Norwood High School powder puff game.


On July 16, 2016, at 1517 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-24-260, N11MT, was substantially damaged during a forced landing in Westwood, Massachusetts, during approach to Norwood Memorial Airport (OWD), Norwood, Massachusetts. The private pilot/co-owner was seriously injured, and the passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which departed from Knox County Regional Airport (RKD), Rockland, Maine, and was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot was not available for interview due to his injuries. He was interviewed by his attorney, who provided a written statement on his behalf.

According to the statement, the pilot and passenger planned a round-trip flight from OWD to RKD to attend a fly-in event. The pilot estimated his outbound and return legs each took 1 hour and 20 minutes, and that the airplane consumed 22 gallons of fuel on each leg. According to his statement, the pilot "…reasonably assumed that he had sufficient fuel with approximately 5 gallons of reserves to safely arrive back at Norwood without the need to switch to the auxiliary tanks during his return flight."

Prior to departure, the pilot performed a preflight inspection of the airplane "generally consistent" with the manufacturer's pilot's operating handbook. His visual inspection of the main fuel tanks "confirmed" that the right wing tank was full, the left wing tank was "down about 3 gallons," and that both right and left auxiliary tanks were full.

The pilot stated that the flight to RKD was completed with the fuel selector on the right main fuel tank, and the return flight to OWD was completed with the fuel selector on the left main fuel tank. After being cleared for landing at OWD, the engine "abruptly" lost power, and the pilot conducted a forced landing to wooded terrain.

Information from the OWD local controller revealed the airplane was about 3 miles north of the airport when it was cleared to land on runway 28. Shortly thereafter, the pilot reported a loss of engine power and the controller watched as the airplane descended into wooded terrain about 1 mile from the airport.

In an interview with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspectors, a witness close to the accident site said he watched the airplane overfly the woods at low altitude before it flew out of sight and he heard the sounds of impact. He said the airplane made a "funny noise" but that he could not associate the sound with the engine.

According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He was issued an FAA third-class medical certificate on April 21, 2016. The pilot reported 4,550 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The four-seat, single-engine, low-wing airplane was manufactured in 1968, and was equipped with a Lycoming IO-540, 310-horsepower engine. There was a 30-gallon main fuel tank (28 gallons useable) and a 15-gallon auxiliary fuel tank mounted in each wing.

The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed July 28, 2015. It had accrued 4,239 total aircraft hours as of that date.

The co-owner of the airplane reported to his mechanic prior to the accident, and later to the FAA inspector who responded to the accident site, that the airplane's left main fuel tank leaked. The mechanic reported to an FAA inspector that one of the owners of the airplane had contacted him a few weeks before the accident and requested that he order replacement bladders for both the left and right main fuel tanks so they could be replaced at the next annual inspection. According to the mechanic, the owners mitigated the leak by not filling the left main tank completely.

Examination of the wreckage by the FAA inspector revealed substantial damage to the airplane's wings and fuselage. Control continuity was confirmed, and examination of the fuel tanks revealed that the left main fuel tank was empty, the right main fuel tank contained about 2 gallons of fuel, and both auxiliary fuel tanks were full. Disassembly of the airplane by recovery specialists confirmed continuity of the fuel system, and the fuel quantities previously observed in each tank. The fuel selector was found between the "Left Main" and "Off" positions. The pilot reported to first responders that he had "turned the fuel off" prior to their arrival on scene.

At 1453, the weather reported at OWD included clear skies and wind from 290 degrees at 10 knots gusting to 16 knots. The temperature was 34 degrees C, dew point was 16 degrees C, and the altimeter setting was 30.00 inches of mercury.

Examination of the airplane's flight log and fuel receipts revealed that prior to the accident, the airplane was last fueled on July 12, 2016, at which time the right main and left auxiliary tanks were "topped off." The airplane had accrued an estimated 2.6 total hours of flight time (hobbs meter) since its last fuel service. Fueling instructions over the month previous to the accident specified servicing the right main and right auxiliary tanks only, or right main and left auxiliary tanks only.

The engine was removed from the airframe and subsequently placed in a test cell at the manufacturer's facility under the supervision of an NTSB investigator. The engine started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran continuously without interruption at all power settings.







NTSB Identification: ERA16LA258
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 16, 2016 in Westwood, MA
Aircraft: PIPER PA24, registration: N11MT
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 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 aircraft accident report.

On July 16, 2016, at 1517 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-24-260, N11MT, was substantially damaged during a forced landing while on approach to Norwood Memorial Airport (OWD), Westwood, Massachusetts. The private pilot/owner was seriously injured and the passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight that originated at Knox County Regional Airport (RKD), Rockland, Maine, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Preliminary information from the OWD local air traffic controller revealed the airplane was about 3 nautical miles to the north of the airport when it was cleared to land on runway 17. Shortly thereafter, the controller watched as the airplane descended into wooded terrain about 1 nautical mile from the airport after the pilot reported a loss of engine power.

In an interview with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors, a witness close to the accident site said he watched the airplane overfly the woods at low altitude before it flew from sight and he heard the sounds of impact. He said the airplane made a "funny noise" but that he couldn't associate the sound with the engine.

The pilot was not available for interview due to his injuries.

According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He was issued an FAA third-class medical certificate on April 21, 2016. The pilot reported 4,550 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The four-seat, single-engine, low-wing airplane was manufactured in 1968, and was equipped with a Lycoming IO-540, 310-horsepower engine. There was a 30-gallon main fuel tank (28 gallons useable) and a 15-gallon auxiliary fuel tank mounted in each wing.

The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed July 28, 2015. It had accrued 4,239 total aircraft hours as of that date.

Examination of the airplane by an FAA inspector revealed substantial damage to the airplane's wings and fuselage. Control continuity was confirmed, and examination of the fuel tanks revealed that the left main fuel tank was empty, the right main fuel tank contained about 2 gallons of fuel, and both auxiliary fuel tanks were full. Disassembly of the airplane by recovery specialists confirmed continuity of the fuel system, and the fuel quantities previously observed in each tank. The pilot reported to first responders that he had "turned the fuel off" prior to their arrival on scene.

At 1453, the weather reported at OWD included clear skies and wind from 290 at 10 knots gusting to 16 knots. The temperature was 34 degrees Celsius (C), dewpoint was 16 degrees C, and the altimeter setting was 30.00 inches of mercury.

The airplane was retained for further examination.

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