Saturday, February 10, 2018

American Aviation AA-1A Trainer, N6343L, registered to and operated by a private individual: Accident occurred February 21, 2017 at Gainesville Municipal Airport (KGLE), Cooke County, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Irving, Texas

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

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N6343L



Location: Gainesville, TX
Accident Number: CEN17LA105
Date & Time: 02/21/2017, 0020 CST
Registration: N6343L
Aircraft: AMERICAN AVIATION AA 1A
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On February 21, 2017, about 0020 central standard time, an American Aviation AA-1A airplane, N6343L, made a forced landing short of runway 36 at Gainesville Municipal Airport (GLE), Gainesville, Texas. The private rated pilot sustained minor injuries, the passenger sustained serious injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed during the accident and no flight plan had been filed. The cross-country flight originated from Denton Enterprise Airport (DTO), Denton, Texas about 2130.

The responding law enforcement officer reported that the passenger was seated in the right seat. Also, the pilot told the officer that he attempted to assist the passenger in flying the airplane when it began to descend following the loss of engine power.

The airport director responded to the accident site and reported that he spoke to the pilot who stated, "the engine quit on short final, the wing dropped, and [the pilot] grabbed the yoke and tried to straighten it out..." The airport director also spoke to a pilot rated first responder who told the airport director that he moved the fuel selector from RIGHT to OFF while at the accident site.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector spoke with the pilot on the phone, who stated that the passenger had recently purchased the airplane. The passenger, who was not a certificated pilot, asked the pilot to fly with him on a familiarization flight. They departed DTO and reportedly completed about 15 touch-and-go landings at North Texas Regional Airport (GYI), Sherman/Denison, Texas. They then departed GYI for GLE to get additional fuel for the airplane. They approached GLE from the north and intended to land on runway 18. During the final descent, the pilot, who claimed to be flying the airplane, observed a coyote on the runway, so he executed a go-around. During the go-around, the pilot stated that the engine lost power and he made a 180° turn back toward the runway because he did not want to land on the highway. The pilot did not remember in which direction the turn was made. The airplane was not able to make the runway, so the pilot made a forced landing to a field (figure 1).


Figure 1 – Accident site


The pilot provided a written statement and spoke with the NTSB Investigator-In-Charge on the phone. He stated that on February 19, 2017, he and the passenger, who owned the airplane, flew the accident airplane from DTO to GLE for dinner, the passenger added fuel to the airplane, then they returned to DTO. This was the last time the airplane was serviced with fuel. On February 20, 2017, he met the passenger at DTO and they departed for GYI before the DTO control tower closed. They arrived at GYI after the control tower had already closed. They performed about 8 touch-and-go landings with a short break after the fifth. They departed the pattern at GYI and proceeded to GLE for fuel. About 5 minutes before arriving at GLE, the passenger noticed that the fuel pressure gauge indicated 0 psi, but the engine was still operating smoothly. The pilot turned on the electric fuel boost pump and the fuel pressure gauge returned to 5 psi. The boost pump remained on for the rest of the flight. During the final approach and before landing the pilot, who again claimed to be flying the airplane, observed a coyote on the runway and executed a go-around. The engine experienced a loss of power during the climb while 150 to 250 ft above ground level. He stated that the passenger recalled that the engine lost power while on left crosswind in the traffic pattern. The pilot reported that he turned and attempted to land on runway 36, but the airplane landed in a field about 200 to 300 ft short of the runway. He added that after the accident he saw fuel on the ground at the accident site.

The passenger provided a written statement for the investigation; in the statement he did not report seeing a coyote on the runway, only that the pilot saw one. He also reported that the first responders discussed fuel on the ground at the accident site as they worked on extracting him from the airplane. He added that the fuel selector was positioned to the right fuel tank. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 40, 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 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/30/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 01/23/2016
Flight Time:  463 hours (Total, all aircraft), 31 hours (Total, this make and model), 421 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 61 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 23 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

On July 22, 2015, the passenger was denied an FAA medical certificate for reasons unknown. He reported 16 hours of total flight time. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: AMERICAN AVIATION
Registration: N6343L
Model/Series: AA 1A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1972
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Utility
Serial Number: AA1A-0343
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1561 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: O-235-C2C
Registered Owner: LEE CHRISTOPHER M
Rated Power: 108 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The airplane was equipped with two wing spar fuel tanks, each with a capacity of 12 gallons for a total of 24 gallons. The usable fuel quantity was 22 gallons, and the unusable fuel was one gallon per tank. The pilot reported that the airplane had 20 gallons of fuel when they departed DTO.

On February 19, 2017, the airplane was serviced with 12.57 gallons of fuel. The pilot and passenger then flew the airplane from GLE to DTO, which was about a 15-minute flight. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KGLE, 839 ft msl
Observation Time: 0055 CST
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 8°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 12°C / 11°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots, 270°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.93 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration:  No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: SHERMAN/DENISON, TX (GYI)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Gainesville, TX (GLE)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0030 CST
Type of Airspace: Class E 

Airport Information

Airport: GAINESVILLE MUNI (GLE)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 845 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: 36
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 6000 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing:  Forced Landing 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:  33.643056, -97.199167 (est) 

The airplane came to rest upright facing east in a field about 150 yards south of runway 36 at GLE and was slightly right of the runway's extended centerline (figure 2). The initial impact point and subsequent debris path was oriented toward the northwest. One propeller blade was bent aft near mid span and the other blade was straight and unremarkable. The right wing had separated from the fuselage, folded upside down, and twisted aft toward the empennage. The right-side fuel lines to the wing were separated and no fuel was observed in the right wing fuel tank. The left wing remained attached to the fuselage. The FAA inspector drained the left fuel tank sump drain, which contained a few tablespoons of dirty liquid.


Figure 2 – Accident airplane right side


The airplane was recovered by a wreckage retrieval company. When the left wing was removed for transport, there was less than one cup of fuel recovered from the left fuel tank. The ring wing tank was completely empty.

The right fuel tank quantity indicator is located on the lower right panel between front right seat and the lower right side of the instrument panel. The indication ball was not visible in the gauge. The left fuel tank quantity indicator is in the same position, but on the left side of the airplane. 

There were no preaccident anomalies noted with the airplane during the on-scene examination by the FAA inspector. 

Tests And Research

According to the airplane's pilot operating handbook (POH), the cruise performance chart matched the checklist found onboard the airplane, which the pilot reported referencing. The climb and cruise performance numbers provided in the POH were used and extrapolated to calculate an estimated fuel consumption for the accident flight. The calculation used the most conservative numbers regarding gallons per hour (gph) and two different estimates for the number of touch-and-go landings performed based on the pilot and passenger's initial and follow-up statements. It is possible that the actual fuel consumption was higher than the estimated number used for this report.

The first fuel consumption calculation (figure 3) estimated 7 minutes per landing and 15 total landings. The estimated 85% power was used to account for the higher power setting needed during touch-and-go landings, which yielded an average fuel burn of 7.16 gph. This fuel consumption calculation estimated a total of 19 gallons used, which would have left less than 1 gallon remaining in the fuel tanks, none of which would have been considered usable. Based on this calculation, the total flight time was estimated to be 2 hours and 42 minutes.

The second fuel consumption calculation (figure 3) also used an estimated 7 minutes per landing and only 9 total landings to match the pilot and passengers' follow-p statements. The same 85% power setting and fuel burn of 7.16 gph was used. This fuel consumption calculation estimated a total of 14 gallons used which would have left less than 6.0 gallons remaining in the fuel tanks, 4.0 of which would have been considered usable. However, based on this calculation the total flight time was estimated to only be 2 hours.


Figure 3 - Fuel consumption calculations


NTSB Identification: CEN17LA105
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, February 21, 2017 in Gainesville, TX
Aircraft: AMERICAN AVIATION AA 1A, registration: N6343L
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

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 February 21, 2017, about 0050 central standard time, an American Aviation AA-1A airplane, N6343L, made a forced landing short of runway 36 at Gainesville Municipal Airport (GLE), Gainesville, Texas. The private rated pilot sustained minor injuries and the passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed during the accident and no flight plan had been filed. The local cross country flight originated from Denton Enterprise Airport (DTO), Denton, Texas. 

The responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector stated that the pilot exited the airplane under his own control and the passenger was removed by first responders and flown to a local hospital. The airplane was found upright in a field about 150 yards south of runway 36 at GLE and was slightly right of the runway extended centerline. The right wing was found separated from the fuselage and no fuel was observed in the wing spar fuel tank. The left wing remained attached to the fuselage. The inspector drained the left fuel tank sump drain, which contained a few tablespoons of liquid similar to dirty water. 

The FAA inspector spoke to the pilot on the phone and the pilot stated that the passenger had recently purchased the airplane. The passenger, who was not a certificated pilot, asked the pilot to fly with him on a familiarization flight. They departed DTO and executed about 15 touch-and-go landings at North Texas Regional Airport (GYI), Sherman/Denison, Texas. They departed GYI for GLE to get fuel for the airplane. They approached GLE from the north and intended to land on runway 18. During the final descent, the pilot observed a coyote on the runway so he executed a go-around. During the go-around, the pilot stated that the engine lost power and he made a 180° turn back toward the runway. The airplane was not able to make the runway so the pilot conducted a forced landing to a field. 

The airplane was recovered by a wreckage retrieval company. When the left wing was removed for transport, there was less than one cup of fuel found in the fuel tank.

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