Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Fuel Starvation: Cessna 172M Skyhawk, N80457; accident occurred July 13, 2017 in Key Biscayne, Miami-Dade County, Florida



The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.
Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Miramar, Florida

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

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

https://registry.faa.gov/N80457


Location: Key Biscayne, FL
Accident Number: ERA17LA242
Date & Time: 07/13/2017, 2320 EDT
Registration: N80457
Aircraft:CESSNA 172 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel starvation
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On July 13, 2017, about 2320 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172M, N80457, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a road near Key Biscayne, Florida. The flight instructor was not injured and the private pilot receiving instruction sustained minor injuries. The airplane was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the flight which originated from Miami Executive Airport (TMB), Miami, Florida, about 2055.

The flight instructor stated that during the preflight inspection, both fuel tanks were visually inspected and also checked using a dipstick, and each tank contained about 15 gallons. The flight departed TMB with the fuel selector on the "both" position, and flew to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE), Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the private pilot, who was receiving instruction for an instrument rating, executed a practice instrument approach that terminated with a full-stop landing. The airplane remained on the ground for about 15-18 minutes with the engine operating, then departed and flew to Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), West Palm Beach, Florida, where the private pilot executed another practice instrument approach, which terminated with a missed approach, and holding practice. About 2215, the flight instructor elected to return to TMB and requested visual flight rules flight following from air traffic control (ATC). The flight proceeded south, east to the coast, and then south along the shoreline. While flying near Key Biscayne with the engine operating between 2,300 and 2,350 rpm, the mixture control full rich, and the fuel selector on the same position it had been since the initial takeoff (both), the engine sputtered for about 2-3 seconds, lost power, then increased briefly to 1,500 rpm, before losing power again. The private pilot reported the left and right fuel gauges at that time were indicating in the lower red arc and between 1/4 and 1/2 capacity, respectively. Attempts to restore engine power consisted of moving the fuel selector to each fuel tank position, and checking the magnetos on each respective position, but engine power was not restored. The flight instructor declared an emergency with the ATC controller and requested assistance from emergency equipment. While descending for a forced landing to a road, the airplane collided with tree branches, and then a light pole, and came to rest within 25 to 30 ft of the touchdown point on the road.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, there was no evidence of fuel leakage or a breach of either fuel tank. Less than 1 gallon of fuel was drained from the left fuel tank, while about 10 gallons of fuel were drained from the right fuel tank. The airplane was recovered for further examination at a later date.

Examination of the airplane following recovery revealed the right fuel tank strainer, part number 0422130 was nearly completely blocked by organic material. 



Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 30, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
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 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/04/2017
Occupational Pilot:Yes 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 07/27/2016
Flight Time:  2800 hours (Total, all aircraft), 510 hours (Total, this make and model), 2750 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 300 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 75 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)



Student Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 23, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/14/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/08/2017
Flight Time:  164 hours (Total, all aircraft), 21 hours (Total, this make and model), 127 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 111 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 55 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 




Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Registration: N80457
Model/Series: 172 M
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Utility
Serial Number: 17266596
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/30/2017, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2300 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 5547.8 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: C91  installed, activated, aided in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-320-E2D
Registered Owner: C & G AIRCRAFT PARTS, INC.
Rated Power: 150 hp
Operator: Dean International, Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot School (141)
Operator Does Business As: Dean International Flight School
Operator Designator Code:



Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: MIA, 9 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2253 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 306°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 1500 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 25000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 100°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.08 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 25°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: West Palm Beach, FL (PBI)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Miami, FL (TMB)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time:  EDT
Type of Airspace: 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 25.710278, -80.155833

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

They broke the back of that poor old bird. RIP Skyhawk

Anonymous said...

I have always taught and mandated from my CFI candidates and students to ALWAYS fill the aircraft up before departure. ALWAYS, especially at night. No excuses. I do feel this would have made a difference here. Very sad!! Glad all survived.

Anonymous said...

You "have always taught".... read the reports thoroughly before posting with some unjustified sense of moral superiority. Lack of fuel on board was NOT the issue! Even with full tanks if they'd flown long enough the real culprit would have gotten somebody.

So you don't have to read in it's entirety here is the salient point of the report:
"...fuel selector on the "both" position...there was no evidence of fuel leakage or a breach of either fuel tank. Less than 1 gallon of fuel was drained from the left fuel tank, while about 10 gallons of fuel were drained from the right fuel tank....the right fuel tank strainer, part number 0422130 was nearly completely blocked by organic material."

Anonymous said...

This is why our 172 SOP/Checklist calls for start-up on the right tank and then switch to left tank for taxi and then Both for the rest...interesting to know if the snag would have shown up then when running on the individual tanks? Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

"Less than 1 gallon of fuel was drained from the left fuel tank, while about 10 gallons of fuel were drained from the right fuel tank....the right fuel tank strainer, part number 0422130 was nearly completely blocked by organic material."

This is why my instructor(s) always taught me to keep an eye on the fuel gauges if selecting feeding from both tanks to ensure both are showing drawing down in capacity equally. If there is a discrepancy, like one tank is showing lower over time and the other stays the same as it was at departure, get it on the ground and checked out by a mechanic.

Don't assume both tanks are feeding just because the selector is in "BOTH". The student was obviously per-occupied with IFR training managing the primary flight instrumentation and likely didn't pay attention to the fuel gauge discrepancy. And the gauge in a 172 is on his left lower side so the instructor in the right seat, busy doing his own thing staying on top of the student, likely didn't pay attention either.

Anonymous said...

The CFI went ahead and added a power off landing lesson to the two instrument approaches - free of charge.

Anonymous said...

Well now, simple logic here my friend. Maybe comprehension is not the posters best attribute but, if you “top-off” the two (2) fuel tanks, which was NOT the case here, you would have had more than 1 gallon, and feeding, from the fuel tank that was obviously contributing to normal engine operation.

Since they didn’t fill the tanks, the fuel in the working fuel tank was the ONLY fuel being used, and was exhausted. Make sense now?

“Even with full tanks if they’d flown long enough the real culprit would have gotten somebody.” True, but that was not the case here. Let’s stay with the facts and not let ambiguity factor into these comments.

Anonymous said...

I see your mode of thinking. I think you might be correct. At the planned conclusion of the training flight, there would have been enough fuel left in the operable tank to enable the engine to operate if topping off the tanks were completed.

Twenty-five years ago, one of my first CFI's told me, 97% of aviation is judgement. The other 3% I will teach you. POWERFUL statement.

I have found through all levels of aviation, PVT thru ATP, judgement and common sense are the two major components lacking in pilots. The FAA is trying to incorporate more training in those areas. Very hard to do. The person either has those God given skills, or he/she doesn't.

Anonymous said...

I was taught to always top off the tanks before a flight and ALWAYS on a night flight. My CFII told me the only time you can have too much fuel is when you're on fire!

Anonymous said...

Regarding a small aircraft, he/she would be correct!!