Saturday, March 30, 2019

Loss of Engine Power (Total): Quartz Mountain Aerospace Inc 11E, N515BW, accident occurred January 24, 2018 in Millard, Omaha, Nebraska

N515BW in school ballpark after forced landing.

N515BW against chain link fence.

Tree that was struck during forced landing.

Empty fuel tank.

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lincoln, Nebraska

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Omaha, NE
Accident Number: CEN18LA085
Date & Time: 01/24/2018, 1418 CST
Registration: N515BW
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 


During an instructional flight, the two pilots—an airline transport pilot giving instruction and a commercial pilot receiving instruction—flew to two airports and made an instrument approach at each airport. Upon returning to the pilots' home airport and while on another instrument approach, the engine lost all power. The pilot giving instruction assumed control of the airplane and made a forced landing in a school baseball field. During the forced landing, the airplane struck trees and a fence, causing substantial damage to a wing spar.

During a postaccident examination, a total of ½ gallon of fuel was drained from both tanks. The airplane's fuel capacity was 42 gallons, of which 40 gallons was usable. The airplane had been serviced with fuel several days before the accident, and the service technician estimated that 34 gallons of fuel was on board the airplane at the beginning of the accident flight. The pilot giving instruction reported that he had visually verified that the airplane was "full of fuel" before the flight, and he expected that there would be enough fuel for 4 hours of flight. The pilot giving instruction planned 3 hours of flight time, and the airplane's Hobbs meter indicated 3.1 hours of flight time.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The instructor pilot's inadequate preflight fuel planning, which resulted in fuel exhaustion and a total loss of engine power.


Fuel - Fluid level (Cause)
Fuel - Not inspected (Cause)

Personnel issues
Preflight inspection - Instructor/check pilot (Cause)
Identification/recognition - Instructor/check pilot (Cause)

Factual Information

On January 24, 2018, at 1418 central standard time, a Quartz Mountain Aerospace (Luscombe) 11E, N515BW, struck trees and a fence during a forced landing following a total loss of engine power in Omaha, Nebraska. The certificated airline transport flight instructor and certificated commercial flight instructor receiving instruction were not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The rental airplane was registered to and operated by Oracle Aviation, LLC, Omaha, Nebraska, and operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed. The flight originated from Millard Airport (MLE), about 1100.

According to the instructor's accident report, the airplane was full of fuel (verified visually), which should have provided about four hours of flight time. The planned flight time was 3 hours. They flew to Wayne Municipal Airport (LCG), Wayne, Nebraska, and Central Nebraska Regional Airport (GRI), Grand Island Nebraska, where they made an instrument approach at each airport before returning to MLE. The airplane was on the GPS (Global Positioning System runway) 12 instrument approach, about 5.3 miles from MLE, when the engine lost power. Following the emergency checklist, the engine regained power for about 10 seconds. The instructor assumed control and made a forced landing in a school baseball field near a road intersection. During the forced landing, the airplane struck trees and a fence, causing damage to a wing spar.

The airplane was towed back to MLE where Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors from the Lincoln, Nebraska, Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) examined the airplane. They drained a total of ½-gallon of fuel from both tanks. Both the tachometer and Hobbs meter indicated a flight duration of 3.1 hours.

The instructor noted that a similar incident occurred about two weeks earlier. In that case, the pilots were able to land at the airport. No determination was made as to why the engine lost power, but the instructor surmised that either the tanks did not hold 42 gallons, or the engine was consuming a "significantly greater amount" of fuel.

According to the service technician, when he serviced the airplane a few days before the accident, and it was not full of fuel. He added fuel to a level "just above the tab portion" of the fuel neck. Using another similar airplane, the technician demonstrated to FAA inspectors how he fueled the airplane to his customary level. He then added 6 additional gallons (3 gallons per tank) to reach the full level. It was estimated about 34 gallons of fuel was on board the airplane. 

History of Flight

Loss of engine power (total) (Defining event)

Emergency descent
Off-field or emergency landing

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Commercial
Age: 68, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s):
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/13/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 12/05/2017
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 16046 hours (Total, all aircraft), 60 hours (Total, this make and model), 13400 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 30 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 10 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial; Private
Age: 26, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine; Helicopter
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/01/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 11/03/2016
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 1420 hours (Total, all aircraft), 7 hours (Total, this make and model), 1337 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 30 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N515BW
Model/Series: L-11E
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 1006
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 3
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/21/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2280 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 276 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-360-ES
Registered Owner: Oracle Aviation, LLC
Rated Power: 185 hp
Operator: Oracle Aviation, LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MLE, 1051 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time: 1415 CST
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 140°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.22 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 3°C / -2°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Omaha, NE (MLE)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Omaha, NE (MLE)
Type of Clearance: IFR; VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1100 CST
Type of Airspace: Class D

Airport Information

Airport: Millard (MLE)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 105 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Snow; Wet
Runway Used: 12
IFR Approach: Global Positioning System; Practice
Runway Length/Width: 3801 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude:  41.196111, -96.112222 (est)


  1. Yet another flight running out of gas. Multi-thousand hour pilots... REALLY? This isn't like the mpg/miles left gauge on your car. Good grief.

  2. Kind of like a Perry Mason story called” the case of the missing fuel.”

  3. According to the reports filed, no admission of running the plane out of fuel. In fact, they both blamed it on the plane. It also could have been the fault of the ground crew, who was required to demonstrated how he filled up a similar plane. Pretty obvious what happened but more obvious that they learned nothing.