Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cessna R182, N1835R, registered to and operated by Meridian Flying Service: Accident occurred September 12, 2017 in Worland, Washakie County, Wyoming

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Casper, Wyoming

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

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


Meridian Flying Services Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N1835R

Location: Worland, WY
Accident Number: CEN17LA356
Date & Time: 09/12/2017, 1630 MDT
Registration: N1835R
Aircraft: CESSNA R182
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Aerial Observation 

On September 12, 2017, about 1630 mountain daylight time, a Cessna R182 airplane, N1835R, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Worland, Wyoming. The pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Meridian Flying Service as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 aerial observation flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Sloulin Field International Airport (ISN), Williston, North Dakota and was destined for the Worland Municipal Airport (WRL), Worland, Wyoming.

On the day of the accident, the pilot intended to continue a pipeline surveillance patrol that began the previous day. The initial flight of the day was from the Sidney-Richland Regional Airport (SDY) to ISN to pick-up a passenger. After departing from ISN, two sections of the pipeline system near ISN were observed and then the flight proceeded to the Stanley Municipal Airport (08D) to obtain fuel. After fueling, the pilot departed for ISN to drop off the passenger. After departing ISN again, he planned to fly directly to the next pipeline system near WRL. However, smoke from forest fires prevented a direct flight as planned. He deviated as required, ultimately arriving at the start of the pipeline patrol route.

About 1620, approximately halfway through the patrol, the engine lost power. The pilot turned toward a road in the area in preparation for a forced landing. The engine regained power momentarily, but it quit again. He turned toward a highway and during that time the engine regained power and quit three or four more times. He recalled thinking that plenty of fuel should have been onboard as he attempted to determine the source of the problem. When he was unsuccessful restoring engine power, he setup for a forced landing to a dirt road. To clear a set of power lines, he "stretched" the glide causing the airspeed to decay and the airplane began to stall. He ultimately executed a forced landing to the dirt road with the landing gear retracted.

The pilot noted that the airplane fuel gauges were unreliable. Attempts to repair the gauges in the months before the accident were not successful and replacement of the entire gauge cluster was required; however, the airplane owner reportedly did not have the financial resources to complete the work. To compensate, the pilot had adopted the practice of completely filling the fuel tanks during each refueling and tracking the intervening flight time. Two days before the accident an individual refueling the airplane informed the pilot that the left fuel cap seal was torn. The pilot was in the process of obtaining a new fuel cap seal but had not been able to have one installed.

The pilot stated that the airplane was fueled at SDY the preceding night. He assumed that the fuel tanks were full upon his departure from SDY the morning of the accident. The airplane fuel capacity was 75 gallons useable. When the airplane was subsequently fueled at 08D, the self-service fuel pump required prior input of the desired amount of fuel. As a result, he decided to dispense 40 gallons based on the anticipated burn that morning. However, he did not recall visually confirming the fuel level. The pilot reported that the flight time from SDY until refueling at 08D was 2.7 hours. An additional, 4.1 hours elapsed from the time the airplane was refueled at 08D until the accident.

A Federal Aviation Administration inspector reported that the airplane sustained firewall and fuselage damage. The upper surface of the left wing exhibited fuel staining aft of the fuel cap. The upper surface of the right wing was clean. The left and right fuel tanks appeared to be empty; no fuel was present when the sump drains were opened. The left fuel cap seal was worn; the right fuel cap seal appeared to be intact. The fuel selector was set to both tanks at the time of the examination. No other anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction were observed.

FAA regulations (14 CFR 91.205) required an operable fuel gauge indicating the quantity of fuel in each tank for any powered civil aircraft with a standard category airworthiness certificate. 

Pilot Information


Certificate: Commercial
Age: 57, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/11/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/30/2017
Flight Time:  2067 hours (Total, all aircraft), 661 hours (Total, this make and model), 1957 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 138 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 61 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 12 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information


Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N1835R
Model/Series: R182
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1978
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: R18200576
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 09/01/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3100 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 24 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2083.4 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-540-J3C5D
Registered Owner: Meridian Flying Services Inc.
Rated Power: 235 hp
Operator: Meridian Flying Services Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan


Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: WRL, 4252 ft msl
Observation Time: 1553 MDT
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 270°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 33°C / 4°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots, Variable
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.94 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Williston, ND (ISN)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Worland, WY (WRL)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  MDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information


Airport: Worland Municipal (WRL)
Runway Surface Type: Dirt
Airport Elevation: 4252 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry; Rough
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing 

Wreckage and Impact Information


Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 43.962778, -107.950556 (est)

NTSB Identification: CEN17LA356
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, September 12, 2017 in Worland, WY
Aircraft: CESSNA R182, registration: N1835R
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 September 12, 2017, about 1600 mountain daylight time, a Cessna R182 airplane, N1835R, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Worland, Wyoming. The pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Meridian Flying Service as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 aerial observation flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Sloulin Field International Airport (ISN), Williston, North Dakota and was destined for the Worland Municipal Airport (WRL), Worland, Wyoming.

The pilot stated that the engine lost power during pipeline surveillance flight and he executed a forced landing to a dirt road. The airplane sustained damage to the fuselage.

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