Saturday, March 16, 2019

Loss of Engine Power (Total): Fairchild Funk M-62C F-23A, N1131Z, accident occurred March 23, 2018 in Columbia, Maury County, Tennessee

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Nashville, Tennessee

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Columbia, TN
Accident Number: ERA18LA113
Date & Time: 03/23/2018, 1610 CDT
Registration: N1131Z
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Positioning 


The private pilot reported that he departed for the cross-country flight with a full load of fuel. During cruise flight, he attempted to balance the fuel load by turning the fuel selector from the left tank to the right tank; shortly thereafter, the engine lost total power. The pilot attempted to troubleshoot the problem and restart the engine but was unsuccessful. The pilot performed a forced landing to a soft field; during the landing, the airplane settled into the mud, which resulted in separation of the landing gear and substantial damage to the wing spar. Postaccident examination revealed that the left fuel tank was ruptured and contained no fuel, while the right fuel tank contained about 16 gallons of fuel. Additional examination of the fuel system did not reveal any evidence of preimpact malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

During a postaccident interview, the pilot stated that he routinely flew an airplane of a similar model with a different fuel selector configuration than the accident airplane. The pilot stated that when changing fuel tanks, he may have inadvertently positioned the fuel selector to an incorrect position. Because the engine failure occurred immediately after the pilot changed the fuel selector position, it is likely that the pilot inadvertently turned the fuel selector to the off position, which starved the engine of fuel and resulted in the total loss of engine power.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's inadvertent selection of the fuel selector handle to the off position, which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power.


Fuel selector/shutoff valve - Incorrect use/operation (Cause)

Personnel issues
Incorrect action selection - Pilot (Cause)
Use of equip/system - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Wet/muddy terrain - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

On March 23, 2018, about 1610 central daylight time, a Fairchild Funk M62C F-23A, N1131Z, operated by the Texas Air Museum, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Columbia, Tennessee. The private pilot was not injured and the airplane received substantial damage. The flight was operated in accordance with Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Smyrna Airport (MQY), Smyrna, Tennessee and was destined for Slaton Municipal Airport (F49), Slaton, Texas.

The pilot reported that before departing MQY, the airplane had a full fuel load of 44 gallons. He was anticipating making three or four stops along the 700-mile route. About 30 minutes after departing MQY, at an altitude of 2,500 ft mean sea level, he switched the fuel selector handle from the left tank to the right to "balance the load." About 1 minute after changing tanks, the engine began to "cough," then it shut down. The pilot attempted to restart the engine by switching the fuel selector back to the left tank, increased the mixture and turned on the fuel boost pump followed by the manual boost pump, but he was unable to restart the engine. His altitude was about 1,500 ft above ground level when he stopped trying to restart the engine. He found a long, grassy field and landed the airplane, but as the airplane touched down it sunk into the soft ground during the landing roll, which sheared off the landing gear as the airplane skidded to a stop.

During a postaccident interview the pilot stated that it was possible that he switched the selector to the incorrect position, but he could not be sure. He described that of the two of the airplanes he flies, the M62C, the accident airplane and the other airplane, an M62 are very similar; however, the accident airplane had a fuel selector handle and markings that were dissimilar to those of the other airplane he operated more frequently.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the right main landing gear separated from the airplane and the wing spar was bent. The left fuel tank was ruptured and contained no fuel. The right fuel tank indicated three-quarters or about 16 gallons of fuel. Several pieces of wreckage led from the touchdown point to the final resting place of the airplane; a distance of about 75 feet. Additional examination of the fuel system revealed no anomalies or defects.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His total flight time reported was 371 hours, of which, 18.9 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1965; it was a single-engine, low-wing, tandem two-seat airplane that was issued a special airworthiness certificate for experimental exhibition on July 7, 2012. It incorporated tailwheel landing gear and was equipped with a Jacobs R-755B2M, 275 hp radial engine and a 22-gallon fuel tank in each wing. The engine had accumulated 3,026 hours total time and 175.2 hours total time since major overhaul as of its last condition inspection on July 22, 2017. 

History of Flight

Fuel starvation
Loss of engine power (total) (Defining event)

Off-field or emergency landing

Landing-landing roll
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private 
Age: 24, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
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: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam:03/17/2015 
Occupational Pilot:
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 12/24/2016
Flight Time:  371 hours (Total, all aircraft), 19 hours (Total, this make and model), 234 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 16 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N1131Z
Model/Series: M62C F 23A NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1965
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 9
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/22/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 4300 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1788 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Jacobs
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: RT55B2
Registered Owner: TEXAS AIR MUSEUM
Rated Power: 275 hp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMRC, 681 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1615 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 75°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: SMYRNA, TN (MQY)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: SLATON, TX (F49)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1530 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

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:  35.613333, -86.985000 (est)

1 comment:

  1. The ghost of Maj. "Dick" Bong scores another kill. Glad the pilots walked away.