Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Fuel Exhaustion: Continental Copters Inc Tomcat MK5A, N9005T, accident occurred July 26, 2018 in Le Sueur, Minnesota

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms 

Location: Le Sueur, MN
Accident Number: CEN18LA300
Date & Time: 07/26/2018, 2100 CDT
Registration: N9005T
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 137: Agricultural 

On July 26, 2018, at 2100 central daylight time, a Continental Copters Inc. Tomcat MK5A, N9005T, experienced a total loss of engine power during cruise flight. The pilot performed an autorotation to a field and impacted terrain about six miles east of Le Sueur, Minnesota. The commercial pilot received minor injuries, and the helicopter sustained substantial damage. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Scotts Helicopter Service Inc under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as a ferry flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Dusk visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed from Hastings, Minnesota at 2009 and was destined to Le Sueur Municipal Airport (12Y), Le Sueur, Minnesota.

The pilot stated that during preflight inspection of the helicopter, there was about 23 gallons of 100 low lead fuel aboard, and he thought that was enough fuel to complete a flight to 12Y. He stated the helicopter would consume 15-17 gallons of fuel per hour and it usually took 45 minutes to an hour to complete the flight. He said that prior to departure, the fuel gauge indicated "close to ¾ full." About 5-10 minutes after departure, he remembered that he forgot to sump the fuel tank and landed the helicopter to sump the fuel tanks. He then continued the flight and about 7 miles east of 12Y, about 400-500 feet above ground level and at 60 knots, the engine sputtered, regained power for a second, and then quit. He performed an autorotation to a field, and the helicopter impacted terrain.

The type certificate for the helicopter was held by the operator. According to the type certificate data sheet for the helicopter, the fuel capacity for the helicopter was 41 gallons.

The last annual inspection of the helicopter was dated February 14, 2018 and was performed by the operator's maintenance personnel.

Postaccident examination of the helicopter by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed no useable fuel aboard and the fuel gauge indicated a little over ¼ tank of fuel. The fuel transmitter was of the resistive type manufactured about 1974 by Stewart Warner. The fuel transmitter's resistive element was corroded. The fuel transmitter was tested using an Ohm meter, and the resistive values were uncorrelated to float position. The inspector stated the operator had a new fuel transmitter in their parts department, which he tested, and found that the resistive values corresponded to float position and had no anomalies. According to the inspector, the owner/operator stated, "pilots don't depend on those gauges – but they always stick the tank before departing so they know what they've got!"

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 32, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Center
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/14/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/25/2018
Flight Time:  327 hours (Total, all aircraft), 6 hours (Total, this make and model), 237 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 15 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N9005T
Model/Series: TOMCAT MK5A
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1974
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Restricted
Serial Number: CCI-74-1
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 02/14/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2850 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 7510.2 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: VO-435-A1F
Registered Owner: Scotts Helicopter Service Inc
Rated Power: 265 hp
Operator: Scotts Helicopter Service Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Agricultural Aircraft (137)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dusk
Observation Facility, Elevation: MKT, 1021 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 16 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2056 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 225°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 5000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 310°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.08 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 13°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Hastings, MN
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Le Sueur, MN (12Y)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 2009 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 44.471389, -93.744722 (est)

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