Monday, March 18, 2019

Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, N3214P: Accident occurred November 05, 2018 near Clovis Municipal Airport (KCVN), Texico, Curry County, New Mexico

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

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Texico, NM
Accident Number: GAA19CA053
Date & Time: 11/05/2018, 1655 MST
Registration: N3214P
Aircraft: Piper PA24
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 2 Minor, 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

The pilot reported that, the day before the accident flight, he had refueled the airplane to full tanks (60 gallons of fuel), did a runup of the engine, and a local flight around the pattern to trouble shoot an electrical issue, which was later resolved.

The day of the accident, during the prefight for the cross country flight, the airplane was only "two gallons shy of full" during his visual inspection. About 2.5 hours into the flight after switching fuel tanks multiple times en route, he switched to the left main fuel tank to prepare for landing. He added that about 4 miles south of the destination airport the engine lost power, the airplane was "too low", and he set up to land on a nearby road. The airplane landed with the gear retracted and struck multiple signs before coming to rest.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing, fuselage, and empennage.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector reported that, the pilot stated that the airplane flew approximately one hour on the left tank, and then switched to the right tank. The pilot then flew approximately 1.5 hours on the right tank, then felt some buffeting (engine sputter) and turned the boost pump on and switched back to the left tank. The pilot reported that this occurred about 23 miles southeast of the destination airport.

During a telephone conversation with the NTSB IIC, the pilot reported that the total flight time the day of the accident was about 3.1 hours, and that there were no preaccident mechanical failures that he knew of. He added that he estimated the fuel burn at about 14 gallons an hour, and estimated that during the accident flight there was about a 17 knot head wind.

The pilot operating handbook for the airplane states under the endurance/range of the 56 gallon tank airplane, that while at 75% power the airplane has about 3.7 hours of fuel.

During a post-accident examination by the FAA inspector, both fuel tanks were empty with no usable fuel onboard and no fuel leak indications at the accident site.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 25, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/28/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 07/28/2018
Flight Time:  153 hours (Total, all aircraft), 29 hours (Total, this make and model), 73 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 28 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 11 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N3214P
Model/Series: PA24 250
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1958
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 24-292
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/01/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2800 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3433.83 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-540-A1A5
Registered Owner: Reed Aviation, LLC
Rated Power: 250 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dusk
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCVN, 4216 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2356 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 325°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 280°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.84 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 16°C / -3°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Austin, TX (EDC)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Texico, NM (CVN)
Type of Clearance: VFR; VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1515 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 4215 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 30
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5697 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing; Full Stop; Straight-in 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor, 2 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor, 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 34.388611, -103.045000 (est)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I rarely ever takeoff with the tanks not topped off. An old pilot once told me, "the only time you can ever have too much fuel is if you're on fire". It cracks me up when I read of a pilot that crashes a perfectly good plane due to fuel exhaustion only because he tried stretching it to an airport to save $.30/gal on fuel!