Saturday, September 14, 2019

Fuel Related: Piper PA-28-161, N2909U; accident occurred September 02, 2019 in Marquette, Michigan

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Sawyer, MI
Accident Number: GAA19CA534
Date & Time: 09/02/2019, 2025 EDT
Registration: N2909U
Aircraft: Piper PA28
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel related
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

The pilot reported that, during preflight preparations, he filled the airplane's fuel tanks to 50 gallons total onboard and planned to switch the fuel tanks at "+1 hour and +3 hours" during the flight. He added that he departed with the fuel selector on the right tank. One hour into the flight, he switched to the left fuel tank.

While descending to land at the destination airport, 3 hours and 10 minutes into the flight, he set the mixture at full rich and turned the fuel pump on. The engine "immediately lost power" and the "RPM's fell to 1000-1200 and ran smooth until [the] engine quit." He then began an emergency checklist and began to troubleshoot to no avail. He navigated to an area to make an off-airport landing on a road. Upon landing, the right wing impacted brush and weeds, the airplane veered right and came to rest in a ditch.

The pilot reported that each fuel tank contained 24 gallons of usable fuel and his estimated fuel burn was 10 gallons per hour.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing.

The Federal Aviation Administrator inspector who examined the airplane reported that the fuel selector valve was set to the left fuel tank. Magnetos were found off with no key in the ignition switch. The propeller and engine cowl showed minimal damage and no fuel was found in the engine fuel sump. The left wing appeared undamaged with less than a quart of fuel remaining in the tank. The right wing exhibited extensive aft crushing damaged to the outboard leading edge and the fuel line was crimped and broken by impact forces with no fuel remaining in the wing tank.

The airplane manufacturer's pilot's operating handbook, provided information and guidance in a section titled " ENGINE POWER LOSS IN FLIGHT" which stated in part:

Fuel selector: switch to tank containing fuel

Electric fuel pump: ON

Mixture: RICH

Carburetor heat: ON

Engine gauges: check for indication of cause of power loss

Primer: check locked. If no fuel pressure is indicated check tank selector position to be sure it is on a tank containing fuel.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 46, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/03/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 11/28/2018
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 139 hours (Total, all aircraft), 79 hours (Total, this make and model), 89 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 14 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 9 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:Piper 
Registration: N2909U
Model/Series: PA28 161
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1979
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Utility
Serial Number: 28-7916534
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 02/01/2019, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2440 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 10000 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: Marquette County Flying Club Inc
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operator: Marquette County Flying Club Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dusk
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSAW, 1221 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0025 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 291°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 1600 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 3 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 80°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.11 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 12°C / 8°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Howell, MI (OZW)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Marquette, MI (SAW)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1715 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 46.318889, -87.281944 (est)

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