Sunday, October 25, 2020

Fuel Exhaustion: Beechcraft 76 Duchess, N6015Z; accident occurred November 03, 2019 in Doral, Miami-Dade County, Florida

Fuel Gauges During Approach to Hilton Head Airport (KHXD)

National Transportation Safety Board
Aviation Accident Factual Report

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Miramar, Florida

Location: Doral, Florida 
Accident Number: ERA20TA030
Date & Time: November 2, 2019, 21:50 Local 
Registration: N6015Z
Aircraft: Beech 76 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion 
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

Factual Information

On November 3, 2019, about 2150 eastern standard time, a Beech 76, N6015Z, was substantially damaged during a forced landing on a road near Doral, Florida. The commercial pilot and a pilot-rated passenger were not injured. The airplane was operated by GPS Global Pilot School under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight. The flight originated at Hilton Head Airport (HXD), Hilton Head, South Carolina about 1840 and was destined for Miami Executive Airport (TMB), Miami, Florida.

The pilot reported that he landed at HXD with 55 to 60 gallons of fuel on board, and another 20 gallons of fuel were purchased before departing HXD. The fuel tanks were not filled to capacity at HXD. He estimated that the fuel needed to fly to TMB was 65 gallons with 15 gallons in reserve. The en route portion of the flight was uneventful. About 20 miles northwest of TMB, at 2,000 ft mean sea level (msl), the right engine "failed without warning." An attempt to restart the engine was unsuccessful. The right engine propeller was feathered. Following some radio communication problems, contact with Miami approach was re-established and the pilot diverted to Miami International Airport (MIA), Miami, Florida. About 500 ft msl, the left engine also experienced a sudden total loss of power. The pilot was unable to restart the engine and attempted a forced landing on a road to the west of MIA. Shortly before touchdown, the left wing struck a truck on the road. The airplane came to a stop and the pilots egressed the airplane and were met by first responders.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage. Both wings and the fuselage were structurally damaged. The airplane was equipped with a fuel tank in each wing, with a capacity of 50 gallons useable in each tank. The tanks were drained; 1/2 cup of fuel was recovered from the left tank and 1 cup of fuel was recovered from the right tank. The inspector arrived on scene within one hour of the accident and reported that there was no fuel leaking from either tank and no fuel stains were observed on the ground under the airplane. First responders also reported that there was no fuel leaking from the airplane when they arrived on scene.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial; Flight instructor
Age: 27,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Multi-engine land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane 
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane single-engine; Instrument airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: October 22, 2019
Occupational Pilot: Yes 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: February 28, 2019
Flight Time: 1491 hours (Total, all aircraft), 16 hours (Total, this make and model), 1400 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 157 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 83 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Pilot-rated passenger Information 

Certificate: Commercial; Flight instructor 
Age: 26,Male Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Multi-engine land 
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane 
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane single-engine; Instrument airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: October 10, 2019
Occupational Pilot: Yes 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: September 5, 2019
Flight Time: 1312 hours (Total, all aircraft), 5 hours (Total, this make and model), 1244 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 226 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 78 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech 
Registration: N6015Z
Model/Series: 76 No Series 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1979 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal 
Serial Number: ME-145
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle 
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: October 1, 2019 Annual 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3900 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 2 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 11508 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed 
Engine Model/Series: O360-A1G6D
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 180 Horsepower
Operating Certificate(s)Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMIA,9 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 21:53 Local Direction from Accident Site: 280°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 1100 ft AGL Visibility 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2500 ft AGL 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 8 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 40° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 22°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Hilton Head, SC (HXD ) 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Miami, FL (TMB ) 
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 18:40 Local
Type of Airspace: Class B

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 9 ft msl 
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced landing

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: 25.796943,-80.34111(est)


  1. I have flown that plane many years ago at Ari Ben Aviator in Ft. Pierce. RIP Duchess.

    1. Oh yeah it had to be written off after the wings were cut off for transport. Parts only plane in a boneyard somewhere. FAA still shows it as a registered hull only because it is not up for registry renewal until 2/28/2022.

  2. "1491 hours (Total, all aircraft) and 1312 hours (Total, all aircraft)" so close to their 1,500 hours, yet now so far away !

  3. HXD to TMB is 395 miles, cruises at 140 knots, that's 2.8 hours. If he started with 80 gallons on board, he was burning 28 GPH. Some of those numbers don't work......

    1. I always used 20 gallons per hour when flying the Duchess.

  4. The second picture of the fuel gauges, assuming taken after the landing and otherwise unaltered/undamaged, still shows fuel in the left tank.
    Who knows how much fuel actually was in the tanks in the first picture with both gauges showing about half full and if not both gauges were indicating inaccurately.
    So yes, without knowing what exactly the fuel gauges showed, those numbers didn't work.
    Does a dipstick work well/accurately with this aircraft's tanks?

    1. Read the full pilot's flight narrative in the Form 6120 report (link below). The narrative talks about adding 20 gallons based on gauge indications, but in the next paragraph describes visual verification at the tabs in the filler necks.

      Notice also that they arrived at HXD not directly from TMB, but from a top off at Lakeland. No total quantity on board is given for the Lakeland takeoff.

      Perhaps they misinterpreted the lower mark on the tab as 40. The middle mark is 40, lowest mark is 30.

      It was the schools airplane, surprising that the "extra" 10 gallons or so required to refill from 1/4 tank indicated went unnoticed before these guys ran dry.,%20NTSB%20Form%206120.1-Master.PDF

  5. Interesting info on the fuel story in the last page conclusion paragraph of the FAA Inspector Statement (link):

  6. So basically these clowns trusted the gauges and didn't monitor their fuel gallons since the last top-off nor pay attention to their fuel burn per hour and distance remaining while enroute to destination. Do they trust the fuel gauge and rely on the empty warning idiot light in their vehicles as well? Just another black eye on general aviation scaring the general public about small planes. These bozos are yet another example of why some groups of people who decide to live near a GA airport that was there long before they were want it shut down for "public safety." I used to live near a metro Atlanta area airport and dealt with these whiners for years even though that airport had been there since right before before WWII as Naval Air Station Atlanta (Dekalb-Peachtree/KPDK).

  7. It’s just Simple math “boys”. It’s a shame when any classic AC is destroyed it’s a crime when it could have been prevented.

  8. Clowns indeed... and "CFI" to boot whatever that means. And 2 of them. Yet another batch of puppy mill reluctant CFIs who want to get to 1500 and get the hell out of there with no interest in teaching or the fundamentals of instructing and saving the clueless students off the streets precious $$$. Good riddance now that the airlines have collapsed and most of these will recycle themselves in fast food joints and other non aviation related activities.

    1. That's not very nice. Many pilots have taken that route and then moved on to bigger and better things, they are a valuable component of the industry. Not many spend the coin to gain a CP license with visions of making lowly paid instructing a life long career.

  9. No small amount of stupidity led to this accident. This said the pilot landed the thing on a city street AT NIGHT and they walked away unharmed. That's pretty good stick and rudder.

    Where they top off the tanks at Hilton Head then this accident never happens.

    Again, very stupid this accident would occur to begin with. But a nice recovery. Glad they're not harmed. They're wiser pilots today.

  10. Pilot claimed in his 6120 Form report that he feathered props after right engine failure, but FAA investigator found props not feathered.