Thursday, February 14, 2019

Aero Commander 200D, registered to a private company and operated by the pilot, N929DM: Accident occurred June 24, 2017 near Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (KECP), Panama City, Bay County, Florida



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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Vestavia Hills, Alabama
Continental Motors Inc; Mobile, Alabama

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/N929DM



Location: Panama City, FL
Accident Number: ERA17LA212
Date & Time: 06/24/2017, 1300 CDT
Registration: N929DM
Aircraft: AERO COMMANDER 200D
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel starvation
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On June 24, 2017, about 1300 central daylight time, an Aero Commander 200D, N929DM, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing while approaching Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), Panama City, Florida. The pilot and the passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to a private company and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and the flight was operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from the Malden Regional Airport (MAW), Malden, Missouri, about 1030.

The pilot stated that he topped off the airplane's four fuel tanks (20 gallons each, 18.5 gallons usable) prior to the estimated 2 hour and 20-minute flight. He started the engine, taxied, and took off on the left main fuel tank and climbed to 7,000 ft mean sea level (msl), burning about 18 gph. When he leveled off at 7,000 ft msl, he set engine power to a 15.5 gph fuel burn rate. The pilot said he had to deviate around weather but used a stop watch to remind him to switch tanks every 30 minutes, which he said he did during the entire flight. He cycled from the left main tank over to the left auxiliary tank after he leveled off at 7,000 ft msl. He then switched to the right auxiliary tank, then the right main tank, before switching back to the left main fuel tank for the remainder of the flight. About 20 minutes after switching to the left main tank, the engine lost power when he was five miles from the airport at an altitude of about 2,000 ft mean sea level (msl) (about 1,930 above ground level).

The pilot said the "engine was still running but not producing hardly any power, if any" and he was unable to maintain altitude, so he prepared to make a forced landing on a highway. During this time, he adjusted the mixture control and brought the throttle full forward, but to no avail. The pilot said he did not turn on the auxiliary fuel boost pump or switch fuel tanks as per the emergency checklist, and instead focused on trying to make a safe landing in a clearing between a set of power lines and a forest. He also thought he had about 20 minutes of fuel remaining in the left tank and did not consider the loss of power to be fuel related.

The airplane stalled right before touchdown and landed hard on the right main landing gear. The pilot said the engine lost complete power before touchdown. The airplane skidded, turned around and came to rest upright on a southwesterly heading resulting in substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage.

A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the left main fuel tank was intact and absent of fuel. The outboard section of the left wing, that housed the left auxiliary fuel tank, was bent up and partially separated. A small amount of fuel was observed in the left auxiliary tank and a sheen of fuel was observed under this portion of wing when it was recovered. The right wing also sustained impact damage, but the fuel tanks were not compromised. About 13 gallons of fuel were drained from the right wing auxiliary tank and about 11.5 gallons were drained from the right main tank.

Postaccident examination of the engine revealed it had sufficient oil and the spark plugs exhibited normal wear as per the Champion Check-A-Plug chart. An internal inspection of each cylinder via a lighted borescope revealed each of the cylinder's valves were intact and exhibited normal combustion deposits. The engine was rotated via manual rotation of the propeller and valve train continuity and thumb-compression were established on each cylinder. The spark plugs were re-installed, and the engine was prepped to be test-run on the airframe utilizing the airplane's own fuel system.

About 5-gallons of fuel were placed in the left main fuel tank and no leaks from the tank or its associated plumbing were observed. However, in preparation to start the engine, when the electrical fuel boost-pump was turned on to pressurize the fuel system, fuel sprayed from the b-nut that connected the main fuel supply line to the fuel manifold fitting. The b-nut was cross-threaded on the fitting and connected by about three threads. The fuel supply line was loose and not properly seated to the fitting. About six threads on the fitting were exposed, of which, two of the threads were shiny (clean) in appearance and the other four were dark from exposure to dirt and oil. There was no anti-tamper putty observed on the b-nut and fitting. No fuel stains were observed on the b-nut, fire sleeve, or surrounding area. The b-nut was tight on the fitting and had to be removed using a wrench. The b-nut was re-installed, and the engine started immediately and ran through its entire power-band without hesitation.

A review of the maintenance logbooks revealed the last annual inspection on the engine was performed on September 13, 2016, at a total time of 774.78 hours. At the time of the accident, the engine had accrued about 25.22 hours since the annual inspection. The airplane's last annual inspection was completed on February 2, 2017, at a total time of 2,850.68 flight hours.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, and instrument airplane. His last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical was issued on September 11, 2015. The pilot reported a total of 252.2 flight hours, of which, 20.2 hours, were in the accident airplane.

The weather conditions reported at ECP at 1328 included wind from 220 degrees at 8 knots, gusting to 18 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds 2,900 ft, broken clouds 3,800 ft, temperature 30° degrees C, dewpoint 23° C, and a barometric altimeter setting of 30.04 inches of mercury. The field elevation at ECP is 64 feet msl.

Per the airplane's Owner's Manual, page 4-2, ENGINE FAILURE, it states, "Should engine failure occur, the first step in any procedure is to lower the nose, set up and maintain a safe flying airspeed. Some of the most probable causes of engine failure are: fuel starvation, ignition malfunction, loss of oil and engine seizure. Some of the symptoms usually appear prior to complete engine failure. 

If the engine shows a decrease in power, starts running rough, or completely loses power, perform the following check:

1) Check that the fuel selector is on a usable tank. If necessary to switch tanks, retard the throttle, switch to desired tank.

2). Turn fuel boost pump "ON", advance throttle slowly until power is regained, and then turn OFF fuel boost pump.

3). Place mixture full rich and then lean to altitude if necessary.

4) Check ignition switch to "BOTH" position

5) Check all engine instruments. 



Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 32, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/11/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  252.2 hours (Total, all aircraft), 20.2 hours (Total, this make and model), 161.7 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 75.4 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 16.8 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2.6 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: AERO COMMANDER
Registration: N929DM
Model/Series: 200D D
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1966
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 304
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 02/02/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 29 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2879.9 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Continental Motors Inc
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-520A (32B)
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 285 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: ECP, 68 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1328 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 340°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2900 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3800 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 8 knots / 18 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 220°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.34 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 23°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Malden, MO (MAW)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Panama City, FL (ECP)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 1030 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class D

Airport Information

Airport: NORTHWEST FLORIDA BEACHES INTL (ECP)
Runway Surface Type: Dirt
Airport Elevation: 68 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry; Vegetation
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 
VFR Approach/Landing:  Forced Landing; Full Stop; Straight-in

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:  30.000000, -85.000000 (est)



NTSB Identification: ERA17LA212
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 24, 2017 in Panama City, FL
Aircraft: AERO COMMANDER 200D, registration: N929DM
Injuries: 2 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 June 24, 2017, about 1300 central daylight time, an Aero Commander 200D, N929DM, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing while approaching Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP, Panama City, Florida. The pilot and the passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to a private company and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and the flight was operated on a visual flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from the Malden Regional Airport (MAW), Malden, Missouri, about 1030.

The pilot stated that he was on a 5-mile final for runway 16 at an altitude of about 2,000 ft mean sea level (msl), when he heard a "muffled bang" come from the engine. The engine then lost partial power. The pilot said he turned off the autopilot, trimmed for best glide, and prepared to make a forced landing on a highway since he knew he would be unable to make the runway. During this time, the pilot adjusted the mixture control to troubleshoot the problem and brought the throttle full forward, but to no avail. The pilot said he did no turn on the auxiliary fuel boost pump or switch fuel tanks, and instead focused on trying to make a safe landing.

The pilot stated that the airplane descended quickly and he ended up landing in a clearing between a set of power lines and a forest. The airplane stalled right before touchdown and landed hard on the right main landing gear. The airplane skidded, turned around and came to rest upright on a southwesterly heading. The pilot said that he recalled hearing "silence" just prior to touchdown and believes that the engine had stopped producing power before impact.

A review of on-scene photographs revealed that both wings and the fuselage were substantially damaged. The wreckage was retained for further examination.

The weather conditions reported at ECP at 1328 included wind from 220 degrees at 8 knots, gusting to 18 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds 2,900 ft, broken clouds 3,800 ft, temperature 30° degrees C, dewpoint 23° C, and a barometric altimeter setting of 30.04 inches of mercury.

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