Sunday, January 05, 2020

Loss of Engine Power (Partial): Cessna 170, N4087V; accident occurred January 27, 2019 in Selah, Yakima County, Washington

View of damage to the left horizontal stabilizer.
Federal Aviation Administration

View of damage to the bottom of the left horizontal stabilizer.
Federal Aviation Administration

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Spokane, Washington

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Selah, WA
Accident Number: GAA19CA126
Date & Time: 01/27/2019, 1545 PST
Registration: N4087V
Aircraft: Cessna 170
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (partial)
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The pilot reported that, while doing pattern work and during his third approach, he turned to the base leg of the traffic pattern, and the engine lost power. He turned the fuel selector to "both," but he was unable to restart the engine. The airplane was equipped with an auxiliary fuel pump, which he did not turn on. Realizing the airplane would not reach the runway, the pilot chose to conduct a forced landing to a field, and during the landing roll, the airplane collided with a fence.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the horizontal stabilizer.

The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

After the collision, the pilot visually checked both fuel tanks, and each tank contained "ample fuel." He believed that the engine lost power due to carburetor ice because he did not apply carburetor heat during the approach.

The pilot reported that, about the time of the accident, the temperature was 38°F and the dew point was 30°F. Additionally, he recalled that the cloud condition was broken at 3,000 ft. The atmospheric conditions were conducive for moderate carburetor icing at cruise power.

The pilot reported that the accident could have been prevented if he turned on the fuel pump during the takeoffs and landings and if he had turned on the carburetor heat on the downwind before landing. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to use carburetor heat while operating in conditions conducive to carburetor icing, which resulted in a partial loss of engine power and a subsequent forced landing and impact with a fence.


Intake anti-ice, deice - Not used/operated (Cause)

Personnel issues
Lack of action - Pilot (Cause)
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Fence/fence post - Effect on operation (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Loss of engine power (partial) (Defining event)

Attempted remediation/recovery
Off-field or emergency landing

Landing-landing roll
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 73, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
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: 02/01/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 09/10/2018
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 1970 hours (Total, all aircraft), 390 hours (Total, this make and model), 2 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N4087V
Model/Series: 170 Undesignated
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1948
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18419
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/10/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2200 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: C145
Registered Owner: Yakima 65 N Flying Club
Rated Power: 145 hp
Operator: James C. Bell
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Does Business As: Bell and Upton Land Surveying
Operator Designator Code: 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:  Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KYKM, 1066 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1500 PST
Direction from Accident Site: 217°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Light and Variable /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: Variable
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.6 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 3°C / -1°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Yakima, WA (YKM)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Selah, WA (PVT)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1510 PST
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Private Airstrip (PVT)
Runway Surface Type: Dirt; Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 1098 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 09
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 1800 ft / 40 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Touch and Go; Traffic Pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude:  46.445833, -120.363889 (est)

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