Sunday, August 26, 2018

Zenith Zodiac 601XL, N167EZ: Accident occurred May 29, 2017 in Sanford, Lee County, North Carolina

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

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Greensboro, North Carolina


Aviation Accident Preliminary 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/N167EZ

Location: Sanford, NC
Accident Number: ERA17TA196
Date & Time: 05/29/2017, 1330 EDT
Registration: N167EZ
Aircraft: ERNEST T CHRISTLEY ZENITH ZODIAC 601XL
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel starvation
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On May 29, 2017, at 1330 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Zenith Zodiac 601XL, N167EZ, was substantially damaged during a forced landing at Sanford, North Carolina. The private pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations part 91 as a personal flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated at Deck Airpark (NC11), Apex, North Carolina at 1145.

The pilot reported that he was returning to his home airport, at 6,000 feet mean sea level, when the engine lost all power. He noticed that the right fuel tank was empty; however, he thought that the engine was feeding from the left tank. He attempted a restart, and the engine momentarily started, then lost power again. Unable to restart the engine, he performed a forced landing in a plowed field.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage. The nose gear collapsed during the forced landing, resulting in structural damage to the lower fuselage and engine firewall. The engine and propeller were undamaged. The right fuel tank was empty and the left tank contained fuel. The fuel tank selector handle in the cockpit was found at the left tank position; however, the fuel tank valve remained in the right tank position and could not be moved to the left tank position.

The fuel tank selector valve hardware was examined. The connection between the tank selector handle and the fuel valve consisted of a threaded metal rod, about one foot in length. The pilot, who was the airplane builder, reported that the rod "twisted like bubble gum" when the handle was rotated without changing the position of the valve. He used a thinner rod due to an interference problem during construction. The rod was not part of the airplane kit and was improvised by the pilot. The pilot reported that the handle/valve assembly operated normally during initial testing.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 50, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Sport Pilot None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 07/11/2016
Flight Time:  147 hours (Total, all aircraft), 60 hours (Total, this make and model), 101 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: ERNEST T CHRISTLEY
Registration: N167EZ
Model/Series: ZENITH ZODIAC 601XL
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 4942
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 10/12/2016, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1320 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 60 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 60 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Chevrolet
ELT: C126 installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: Corvair
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 100 hp
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: TTA, 246 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 4 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1320 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 260°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 4 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 300°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.96 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 16°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Apex, NC (NC11)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Apex, NC (NC11)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1145 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class E 

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: 35.443611, -79.111111 (est)

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA196
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, May 29, 2017 in Sanford, NC
Aircraft: ERNEST T CHRISTLEY ZENITH ZODIAC 601XL, registration: N167EZ
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.

601XL, N167EZ, was substantially damaged during a forced landing at Sanford, North Carolina. The private pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations part 91 as a personal flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated at Deck Airpark (NC11), Apex, North Carolina at 1145.

The pilot reported that he was returning to his home airport, and the airplane was at 6,000 feet mean sea level, when the engine lost all power. He noticed that the right fuel tank was empty; however, he thought that the engine was feeding from the left tank. He attempted a restart, and the engine momentarily started, then lost power again. Unable to restart the engine, he performed a forced landing in a plowed field.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage. The nose gear collapsed during the forced landing, resulting in structural damage to the lower fuselage and engine firewall. The engine and propeller were undamaged. The right fuel tank was empty and the left tank contained fuel. The fuel tank selector handle in the cockpit was found at the left tank position; however, the fuel tank valve remained in the right tank position and could not be moved to the left tank position.

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