Monday, November 11, 2019

Loss of Engine Power (Total): Piper PA-28-235, N7954W; accident occurred August 22, 2018 in Little Rock, Arkansas

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Little Rock, Arkansas
Lycoming Engines; Arlington, Texas

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Little Rock, AR
Accident Number: CEN18LA347
Date & Time: 08/22/2018, 1300 CDT
Registration: N7954W
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-235
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 22, 2018, about 1300 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-235, N7954W, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing after a total loss of engine power during cruise flight about 14 nautical miles (nm) southeast of Little Rock, Arkansas. The pilot and passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the flight, which was on a visual flight rules flight plan. The flight departed from the North Little Rock Municipal Airport (ORK), North Little Rock, Arkansas, about 1240 and was en route to the Pine Bluff Regional Airport Grider Field (PBF), Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

The pilot reported that he initially departed Flippin Airport (KFLP), Flippin, Arkansas, with full fuel in the auxiliary and main tanks, a total of 84 gallons. Then he flew to Baxter County Airport (KBPK), Mountain Home, Arkansas, a distance of 30 nautical miles (nm), to get the oil changed. From there he flew to North Little Rock Airport (KORK), North Little Rock, Arkansas, which took about 36 minutes of flight time. The pilot reported that the flight legs were all flown on the right main fuel tank.

Prior to departing for KPBF, he switched to the left main fuel tank. About 10 minutes after takeoff, the flight was about 10 miles south of Little Rock International Airport (KLIT), Little Rock, Arkansas, at 4,500 ft above mean sea level (msl), when the pilot turned off the fuel boost pump and engaged the autopilot. The pilot reported that the engine then rolled back to what the pilot perceived as idle. He immediately turned the fuel boost pump back on, but it made no difference. The pilot reported to air traffic control that the airplane was experiencing a partial loss of engine power. The air traffic controller advised the pilot that the closest airfield was a grass airstrip about 2 to 3 nm east of the pilot's position, or he could divert to KLIT.

The pilot chose to fly to KLIT. The pilot switched the fuel selector back to the right main tank, since he had flown on the right main tank without any problems. The engine then stopped producing power and he attempted an engine restart but without success. The airplane was about 1,560 ft above msl so he decided to perform a forced landing to a grass covered field on an island in the Arkansas River. During the forced landing, the airplane impacted rough terrain which resulted in substantial damage to the airplane.

The airplane wreckage was transported to an aviation recovery facility. The recovery crew reported that 22 gallons of fuel were removed from the left fuel tank and none was removed from the right fuel tank; however, the right fuel tank was compromised from impact damage. During the examination of the airplane at the aviation recovery facility, the fuel system was checked. The fuel lines from the fuel selector to the wing fuel tanks and to the engine were checked and there were no obstructions in the fuel lines. The fuel selector detents were checked and appeared normal. The fuel pump was checked, and no anomalies were noted.

The carburetor was removed and disassembled to check the float and fuel inside the body. The carburetor was half full of fuel. The fuel filters were clean. The fuel was tested for water contamination and none was found. The engine was rotated at the propeller and the drive train had continuity from the propeller to the accessory drives. All cylinders exhibited "thumb" compression. The spark plugs exhibited normal wear. Both magnetos were rotated and both produced spark to all leads. The exhaust manifold was examined and there were no preexisting anomalies. The examination of the flight controls revealed flight control continuity from the cockpit flight controls to the control surfaces. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 49, 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: 03/27/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 07/17/2018
Flight Time:  95 hours (Total, all aircraft), 43 hours (Total, this make and model), 47 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 65 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 20 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N7954W
Model/Series: PA-28-235
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1973
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 28-7310160
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 09/29/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4834 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, activated, aided in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-540
Registered Owner: Up And Away Llc
Rated Power: 235 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: LIT, 266 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 14 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1253 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 30°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 3500 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: Variable
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: 
Altimeter Setting: 30.16 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration
Departure Point: Little Rock, AR (ORK)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Destination: Pine Bluff, AR (PBF)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1240 CDT
Type of Airspace:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  34.543611, -92.131111

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