Sunday, September 29, 2019

Fuel Starvation: Luscombe 8A, N72066; accident occurred June 01, 2018 near East Side Airport (3TS0), Longview, Texas

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Irving, Texas

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Longview, TX
Accident Number: CEN18LA209
Date & Time: 06/01/2018, 0734 CDT
Registration: N72066
Aircraft: LUSCOMBE 8A
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel starvation
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Flight Test 

On June 1, 2018, at 0734 central daylight time, a Luscombe 8A airplane, N72066, experienced a loss of engine power during a departure climb from runway 13 at East Side Airport (3TS0), near Longview, Texas. The pilot/mechanic performed a forced landing to a field near Longview, Texas. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The commercial pilot received serious injuries and a passenger was uninjured. The airplane was registered to an individual and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.

The airplane had not flown for approximately 10 years and underwent a complete restoration and an engine overhaul. Prior to the accident flight, the airplane had flown for the about two hours since the restoration. The airplane design did not have a cockpit mixture control and the airplane was not equipped with a mixture control. The airplane was equipped with one fuel tank, did not have a fuel quantity gauges, nor did it have an electrical system. The airplane was equipped with an originally equipped vented fuel cap, a fuselage mounted main fuel tank, and a Continental A-65-1 engine (the serial number was not provided and is unknown).

The accident flight was intended to be a personal flight flown by the pilot/mechanic, who restored the airplane along with the passenger, who had painted the wings of the airplane.

The pilot stated that prior to the accident flight, the airplane fuel quantity was checked using a dipstick, and the quantity was half full, about 7-8 gallons, and the total fuel capacity was 15 gallons. The pilot stated that he did not use carburetor heat for the takeoff. During the departure climb, the engine lost partial power while climbing through about 200 ft above ground level (AGL), regained power for about 10 seconds, and then lost all power while climbing through about 400 ft AGL. The pilot subsequently performed a forced landing to a field while avoiding powerlines and houses. During touchdown, the airplane nosed over and impacted the ground.

The pilot's recommendation of how the accident could have been avoided was that takeoffs should not be performed with less than full fuel because the fuel tank is located behind the pilot seat and was shoulder high, and the carburetor is located about below the engine and at a height equal to that of the rudder pedals. In a climb attitude, the carburetor and fuel tank are the same height and the gravity fed fuel will stop flowing. He stated the he had previously flown the airplane for a total flight time of 7 hours and had no issues during the takeoff phase of those flights with full fuel.

Several hours passed before the airplane was recovered and a post-accident examination of the airplane was performed. The examination revealed the presence of fuel staining on the ground where the airplane had been overturned. Fuel had drained from the airplane fuel tank due to the nosed-over attitude of the airplane. There was no debris in the fuel tank when visually inspected through the fuel cap filler. The gascolator was broken off from impact, and there was no fuel in the lines leading to the carburetor. The carburetor screen did not contain debris. The carburetor jet was unobstructed and had a normal spray pattern when tested using water. Engine control continuity from the cockpit throttle control to the carburetor was confirmed. The cockpit primer control was extended about 3/8 inch. One propeller blade was relatively straight, and the second propeller blade was bent backwards, consistent with a lack of torsional rotation. The engine exhibited compression, valve train continuity, and drive train continuity. Electrical continuity of the ignition system was confirmed. The spark plugs exhibited normal coloration except for one of the spark plugs that was wetted with engine oil consistent with the cylinder rings in the respective cylinder having not been seated during engine break-in.

Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) CE-14-09, dated February 13, 2014, was issued for all Luscombe Model 8A airplanes equipped with a fuselage mounted main fuel tank and Continental A- 65-1 engines (the original production configuration), specifically the need for procedures to prevent the possible loss of power on takeoff and climb. Flight testing revealed that fuel flow could be interrupted from the fuselage mounted tank as a result of acceleration and higher pitch attitudes commonly encountered in takeoff and climb.

The SAIB stated that use full carburetor heat on takeoff is unconventional yet necessary to assure continuous fuel flow to the engine. Also, the vented fuel cap must be installed with the vent opening facing forward into the prevailing air stream. It is physically possible to install the fuel cap backwards; this condition will decrease fuel flow from the tank. The cap should have lettering indicating the forward direction. If the "forward" lettering is missing or obscured it should be renewed. During pre-flight inspection, while the cap is removed, it is advisable to check the vent function by blowing into the vent tube.

The airplane type certificate data sheet, A-694, revision 25, dated February 12, 2014, Section II Model 8A approved March 27, 1939, stated that a placard was required stating, in part: 'Full carburetor air heat required for takeoff and landing'…

The airplane was certified under CAR 3; and due to the certification basis, it was not required have an approved flight manual.

The placard, part number 18856, was part of the airplane type certificate and was a required installation. The placard stated:


The accident airplane did not have the placard installed.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 74, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 10/01/2016
Flight Time: 5000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 8 hours (Total, this make and model), 20 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: LUSCOMBE
Registration: N72066
Model/Series: 8A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 3493
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/15/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1260 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 7 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1450 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: C65
Registered Owner: Individual
Rated Power: 65 hp
Operator: Pilot
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: GGG, 366 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0753 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 180°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  6 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 900 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 170°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C / 24°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: Moderate - Mist; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Longview, TX (3TS0)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Longview, TX (3TS0)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0734 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class E

Airport Information

Airport: East Side Airport (3TS0)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 373 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Vegetation
Runway Used: 13
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2400 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 32.518056, -94.689722 (est)


  1. Using full carb heat on a Luscombe 8A is nothing new. Back in 1955 we had one at our little airport and it had that very same placard on the panel about using full carburetor heat on takeoff. It didn't make sense on a 90 degree day, but we still did it. I never did know why untill I read the article pn this acciodent that it was to maintain fuel flow.

  2. Behind every warning on an aircraft is an accident or two. On any machine, actually.