Thursday, April 5, 2018

Republic RC-3 Seabee, N87570, registered to the commercial pilot and operated by the private pilot: Fatal accident occurred July 22, 2016 in Lake Alfred, Polk County, Florida

John B. Murphy 
 1932 - 2016

John Barry Murphy, Colonel USAFR (Ret.), age 84, passed away on August 11, 2016. Mr. Murphy graduated from NC State University, Raleigh, NC with a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. He served 30 ½ years in the US Air Force/Air National Guard. During these years, he flew top of the line fighter aircraft, including the F-86, F-100 and F-105s, with over 6,000 hours, mostly in single seat aircraft (jets). He was happiest when he was airborne. Mr. Murphy was an aircraft maintenance officer/director until his retirement from the military. He was a devout Catholic and he lived a full and active life. Mr. Murphy leaves behind to cherish his memory, his wife, Dorothy.

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida
Lycoming Engines; Atlanta, Georgia

Aviation Accident Final 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/N87570



Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Winter Haven, FL
Accident Number: ERA16LA266
Date & Time: 07/22/2016, 0930 EDT
Registration: N87570
Aircraft: REPUBLIC RC 3
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Sys/Comp malf/fail (non-power)
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

Analysis

Shortly after takeoff for a local personal flight, about 300 ft above ground level, the private pilot of the airplane smelled fuel. The engine lost all power shortly thereafter, and the airplane descended, collided with trees, and then impacted terrain. An examination of the airplane revealed that the fuel line between the electric fuel pumps and the engine driven pump had a loose connection at the fuel shut-off lever. During a postaccident engine run, when the electric fuel pumps were on and delivering fuel under pressure to the engine, the loose connection did not affect engine operation. However, when the electric fuel pumps were shut off, the engine-driven fuel pump suctioned air through the loose fuel line connection resulting in fuel starvation and loss of engine power. It is likely that the engine lost power during the accident flight when the commercial pilot turned off the electric fuel pumps after takeoff. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed about 7 months before the accident. The investigation could not determine if the fuel line had been installed before or after the annual inspection because there was no logbook entry regarding installation of the fuel line. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
Improper installation of a fuel line by unknown personnel, which resulted in a total loss of engine power during initial climb due to fuel starvation.

Findings

Aircraft
Fuel distribution - Incorrect service/maintenance (Cause)

Personnel issues
Installation - Other/unknown (Cause)

On July 22, 2016, about 0930 eastern daylight time, a Republic RC-3 airplane, N87570, was substantially damaged during a forced landing after takeoff from Gilbert Airport (GIF), Winter Haven, Florida. The private pilot was seriously injured, and the commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to the commercial pilot and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight.

The commercial pilot died about 3 weeks after the accident on August 11, 2016. About 1 week after the accident, he was interviewed by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector and said that the takeoff was normal until about 300 ft above ground level when his wife (the private pilot) told him that she smelled fuel. The engine lost power shortly thereafter, and the airplane began to descend and then collided with trees. The engine regained power, but the airplane then impacted terrain and came to rest. He said that he was flying the airplane at the time of the accident and that he was a certified airframe and powerplant mechanic and had worked on the airplane extensively during the time he had owned it.

According to FAA records, the private pilot held a third-class medical certificate issued on June 2, 2015 with no limitations. The commercial pilot did not have a current medical certificate. His most recent application for a medical certificate was on November 5, 1983, and this application was denied by the FAA due to his history of coronary artery disease and angina.

The four-seat, high-wing amphibious airplane, serial number 137, was manufactured in 1946. It was powered by a 285-horsepower Lycoming GO-480 engine driving a three-blade Hartzell propeller. Review of the maintenance records revealed that the most recent annual inspection was completed on January 11, 2016. The engine had accumulated 1,505.4 hours of total time in service at the time of this annual inspection.

The maintenance records indicated that, on April 20, 2011, an electric fuel pump was found to be leaking excessively. The fuel pump was removed and sent for overhaul. The overhauled fuel pump was reinstalled on May 2, 2011, by the commercial pilot, and the airplane was test flown by the private pilot. Between the date of this maintenance and January 11, 2016, the airplane went through a total of six annual inspections and accumulated 4.0 hours in service. There were no discrepancies noted on any of the annual inspection logbook entries.

Examination of the wreckage by an FAA inspector revealed that the airplane came to rest between a garage and a fence. The right elevator was embedded in the roof of the garage. The right wing was bent back behind the fuselage and sliced by the propeller blades of the rear-mounted engine. The fuselage was resting on the right side with the left wing pointing skyward. The left wing exhibited impact damage on the leading edge.

The airframe and engine were further examined after being recovered from the accident site. The examination revealed that a fuel line with a pressure bulb was installed between the electric fuel pumps and the engine-driven pump. The fuel line was similar in appearance to a marine fuel line with an in-line pressure bulb used for priming the engine. According to the FAA, this type of fuel line was not approved for installation on the airplane. The examination also revealed that three electric pumps were installed in the airplane although the system was designed to have two electric fuel pumps. Per design, one pump was turned on for low fuel flow, and both pumps were turned on for high fuel flow. In the accident airplane, the third electric fuel pump was installed and wired to the low output side of the fuel pump switch.

To test run the engine, the airframe was secured to a forklift. The fuel tanks were sampled, and 100 low-lead fuel was found in the tanks with no contamination observed. The fuel gauges operated normally and indicated the fuel tanks were half-full. A new battery was installed for the engine test run. The engine started after three turns of the propeller but lost power after the electric fuel pumps were turned off. The engine-driven fuel pump was removed and inspected. It was found to be in airworthy condition and was then reinstalled on the engine. Further examination revealed that the unapproved fuel line was not tightly secured at the fuel shut-off lever. During operation of the electric fuel pumps, fuel was being delivered under pressure to the engine, and the loose connection did not affect engine operation. When the electric fuel pumps were shut off, the engine driven fuel pump was suctioning air through the loose fuel line connection resulting in fuel starvation and loss of engine power.

The fuel line was properly secured, another engine start was performed, and the engine ran without anomalies while being tested at several different power settings. A magneto check was performed, and the magnetos operated normally. 



Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 75, Female
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/02/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  300 hours (Total, all aircraft), 300 hours (Total, this make and model)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 84, 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: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed:  Yes
Medical Certification: None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: REPUBLIC
Registration: N87570
Model/Series: RC 3 UNDESIGNATED
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1946
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 137
Landing Gear Type: Amphibian
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  01/11/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3150 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 0 Hours
ngines:  1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:  1505.4 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT:  Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: GO-480-G2D6
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 285
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: KGIF, 146 ft msl
Observation Time: 0853 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 204°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 24°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration:  No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Winter Haven, FL (GIF)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Winter Haven, FL (GIF)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0930 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: WINTER HAVEN'S GILBERT (GIF)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 145 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 05
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5006 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  28.062222, -81.753889 (est)











NTSB Identification: ERA16LA266
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 22, 2016 in Winter Haven, FL
Aircraft: REPUBLIC RC 3, registration: N87570
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 22, 2016, about 0930 eastern daylight time, a Republic RC-3, N87570, was substantially damaged during a forced landing after takeoff from Winter Haven's Gilbert Airport (GIF), Winter Haven, Florida. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the private pilot incurred serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight. The airplane was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the commercial pilot, who was also the pilot flying the airplane, the takeoff was normal until about 300 feet above ground level, when the non-flying private pilot stated she smelled fuel. The engine lost power shortly thereafter and the airplane began to descend. The airplane hit some trees and the engine regained power, but the airplane then impacted terrain and came to rest.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the airplane came to rest between a garage and fence. The right elevator was embedded into the roof of the garage. The right wing was bent back behind the fuselage and sliced by the propeller blades of the rear mounted engine. The fuselage was resting on the right side with the left wing pointing skyward. The left wing exhibited impact damage on the leading edge.

The airplane was retained for further examination.

No comments: