Sunday, February 28, 2021

Fuel Contamination: Cessna T210N Turbo Centurion II, N5553C; accident occurred March 25, 2020 at Mid-Way Regional Airport (KJWY), Ellis County, Texas

Left Header Tank Sample. 

Right Header Tank Sample.

Fuel Flow Divider

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; North Texas

Investigation Docket  - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Waxahachie, TX
Accident Number: CEN20LA132
Date & Time: 03/25/2020, 1655 CDT
Registration: N5553C
Aircraft: Cessna T210
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel contamination
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

Factual Information

On March 25, 2020, about 1655 CDT, a Cessna T210 N airplane, N5553C, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Waxahachie, Texas. The private pilot sustained serious injury. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight.

A family member told investigators the pilot was going to fly the airplane to Live Oak County Airport (8T6), George West, Texas. Witnesses observed the airplane takeoff from Mid-Way Regional Airport (JWY) on runway 18 and reported the engine did not sound like it was making takeoff power. The airplane reached 50-100 ft above ground level (AGL), started a right turn, and then made a hard left downwind turn. The airplane then descended in a nose down attitude and impacted terrain. The airplane cartwheeled two times before it come to rest upright. The left wing was fractured mid-span and the engine was separated from the fuselage. The pilot said he did not think he could safely land off the departure end of the runway when the engine lost power because of a creek and trees in the area. Witnesses said the pilot could have landed on the runway or the ½ mile of open space past the end of the runway, and there was a strong tailwind when the pilot turned downwind.

One witness reported the airplane had flown very little in the three years before the accident and it had been stored outside at JWY during that time. The mechanic who performed the last two annual inspections on the airplane, was also a witness to the accident. The mechanic stated during the 2019 annual inspection he completely drained the fuel tanks and ran the engine for about 45 minutes without any problems noted. He anticipated the pilot was going to pick up the airplane following the inspection, but the pilot did not for an unknown reason. When the pilot arrived the day of the accident the mechanic helped the pilot sump several cups of water from the fuel tanks before the airplane was refueled. He advised the pilot to sump all the tanks again and to taxi the airplane for a while and do a good run-up before flying it. He said the pilot told him he did not have time for that and needed to get going.

The pilot had the airplane fueled prior to departing. The lineman who refueled the airplane stated the pilot was sumping the fuel tanks while he was present, and the pilot told him to fuel the left tank first because "he was getting a lot of stuff" out of the right tank. The lineman noted he did not observe any rust or debris around the left fuel cap. He did note rust around the right fuel tank filler, rust on the right fuel cap, and rust stains on the fuel cap gasket. He topped off both the left and right tanks (total capacity 90 gallons) with 41.2 gallons of fuel.

The pilot said it had rained a couple days prior to the accident and he drained a lot of water from the fuel tanks prior to the flight. He said he let the airplane sit for a while and came back and sumped the tanks again until only fuel came out. He said he planned to fly around the pattern a few times to make sure everything was working correctly.

Following the accident, a Federal Aviation Administration inspector drained two sump cups full of contaminants and water from the left header fuel tank and 12 sump samples of water from the right header fuel before fuel was sumped from the tank.

An examination was conducted on the engine. Liquid consistent with AVGAS was found in the fuel injector lines to the cylinders 2, 3, and 6. The injector lines to cylinders 1, 4, and 5 contained water. The inlet line to the fuel divider was removed and water and "a thick grey paste" came out of the fuel inlet. Upon disassembly of the fuel flow divider the diaphragm and spring were intact. A fine sand-like material was located on top of the diaphragm. The steel ring in the center of the fuel screen was completely covered in rust. The inlet side of the fuel screen also contained the sand-like material. Upon removal of the diaphragm and spring there was a large amount of foreign material in the fuel divider. There was no odor or indication of AVGAS in the fuel divider. No other anomalies that would have contributed to a loss of engine power were identified during the examination.

A review of the airplane maintenance logbooks showed the last three annual inspections were conducted on September 27, 2016, at 4,973.4 hours total time, December 18, 2017, at 4,981.2 hours total time, and September 19, 2019, at 4,981.7 hours total time. The airplane tachometer read 4,981.9 hours at the time of the accident. The pilot said that after he had the annual inspection completed in September, 2019, he decided to leave the airplane at JWY and have it repainted. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 68, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/08/2011
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 2000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 250 hours (Total, this make and model) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N5553C
Model/Series: T210 N
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1979
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 21063791
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 09/17/2019, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 4000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 0 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4981.9 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
Engine Model/Series: TSIO-520-R
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power:
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: KJWY
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time: 2155 UTC
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:None 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 14 knots / 19 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 170°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 29.82 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 18°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Waxahachie, TX (JWY)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: George West, TX (8T6)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: CDT 
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Airport: Mid-Way Rgnl (JWY)
Runway Surface Type:Asphalt 
Airport Elevation: 727 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 18
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 6500 ft / 100 ft
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: 32.448056, -96.913889 (est)

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