Friday, December 06, 2019

Fuel Exhaustion: Sonex, N97GR; accident occurred April 08, 2016 at Jesup-Wayne County Airport (KJES), Georgia

Front view of aircraft
Federal Aviation Administration

Right side view of aircraft
Federal Aviation Administration

Left side view of aircraft
Federal Aviation Administration

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Jesup, GA
Accident Number: ERA16LA151
Date & Time: 04/08/2016, 1105 EDT
Registration: N97GR
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On April 8, 2016, about 1105 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Sonex, N97GR, was substantially damaged during a forced landing while on approach to Wayne County Airport (JES), Jesup, Georgia. The private pilot was seriously injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight that departed Vero Beach Municipal Airport (VRB) Vero Beach, Florida, at 0820.

A family member stated that the pilot did not remember any of the events leading up to the accident nor did he remember any of the events after.

The pilot had just purchased the airplane, and according to the airplane's previous owner, prior to the accident he examined the airplane with the pilot, and explained everything he knew about its operation, performance, and maintenance. On the day of the accident, the pilot and the previous owner conducted a preflight inspection and the pilot asked the owner to fly around the airport traffic pattern with him a few times. The previous owner stated that they conducted 3 stop-and-go landings at VRB. After the third landing, the pilot said that he was satisfied and ready to depart.

The previous owner asked the pilot where he planned to stop for fuel, and he replied he planned to stop at Vidalia Regional Airport (VDI), Vidalia, Georgia, which was about 2 hours away. The previous owner advised him that he typically used 2 hours as a maximum flight leg time and that the airplane had a 16 gallon fuel capacity and consumed around 6 gallons of fuel per hour, and that generally 2 hour flight legs leave about 4 gallons of fuel remaining for at least a 30 minute reserve. The previous owner also pointed out that one should never rely completely on fuel gauges, no matter how accurate. He told the pilot that they had used some fuel during the flight that morning, and that he likely would not have enough to make VDI with an adequate reserve. The pilot said he realized that and would look for a fuel stop prior to VDI.

Later that day, the JES airport manager received a report that an airplane had crashed adjacent runway 29. He confirmed the registration number and contacted the authorities.

Vandalia Regional Airport was located about 290 nautical miles northwest of VRB. Wayne County Airport was located about 10 nautical miles northeast of a direct course line between VRB and VDI, and about 250 nautical miles from VRB.

Postaccident examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the fuselage of the airplane was crushed. The cockpit section of the airplane was separated from the fuselage. The fuel system was not breached, and no fuel was discovered in the wing tanks or the header fuel tank.

An examination of the engine revealed that there was impact damage on the bottom of the case. The engine mount was bent forward and was crushed against the flywheel. The carburetor was separated from the intake manifold, and the air filter was crushed. The oil system was intact, and the oil dipstick an oil quantity up to the fill mark. Due to impact damage the engine could not be test run. The spark plugs were removed, and the electrodes were gray in color. The crankshaft was rotated by hand and compression was observed on all cylinders. The valve covers were removed and when the crankshaft was rotated, valve train continuity was observed on all rocker arms. The distributors were not damaged, and the rotor turned when the distributor was rotated. Due to the magneto ring damage the distributors could not produce spark.

The airplane was equipped with a MGL Avionics Stratomaster Ultra-X recorder monitoring system. Download and examination of the data from the unit revealed that it did not capture data relevant to the accident flight.

The airplane was also equipped with an Appareo Stratus device , which began recording at VRB about 0816. The data showed that the airplane departed VRB about 0839 and proceeded uneventfully until the groundspeed reached near zero around 1104 while maneuvering over runway 6/24 at JES. Over the final 10 seconds of the flight, the recorded groundspeed decreased from about 75 knots to below 30 knots, and the GPS altitude decreased from about 250 to 0 feet. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 50, 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: 06/10/2014
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 16 hours (Total, all aircraft), 3 hours (Total, this make and model)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N97GR
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 0611
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/25/2016, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 657 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 6 Hours
Engines:  Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 346 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Jabiru
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 3300A
Registered Owner: GRANGER MICHAEL D
Rated Power: 107 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: JES, 107 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1235 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 0°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 11 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 320°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 11°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Vero Beach Muni, FL (VRB)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: VIDALIA, GA (VDI)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0820 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Wayne County Airport (JES)
Runway Surface Type: Dirt
Airport Elevation: 107 ft
Runway Surface Condition:Rough 
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 31.552222, -81.870278 (est)

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