National Transportation Safety Board
Aviation Accident Final Report

 

 

Location:

Monroe, LA

Accident Number:

CEN14LA273

Date & Time:

06/03/2014, 1055 CDT

Registration:

N653T

Aircraft:

BEECH H35

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

Unknown or undetermined

Injuries:

1 Serious

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 91: General Aviation - Flight Test

Analysis

The commercial pilot was conducting a maintenance test flight. According to Federal Aviation Administration audio files, the pilot reported to an air traffic controller that the airplane was experiencing an unspecified fuel problem. The engine then experienced a total loss of power, and the pilot conducted a forced landing, during which the airplane collided with a tree and then impacted a parking lot. A postaccident examination of the airframe, engine, and fuel system did not reveal any preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. A review of data obtained from the airplane's engine data monitoring system did not reveal any unusual engine readings before the loss of engine power.

At the accident site, fuel was drained from each wing tank and a fuel line leading to the engine; the fuel from the fuel line was orange. Testing of the orange fuel sample revealed the presence of silicon. The tank seals and lines were intact, and the source of the silicon could not be determined. No silicon nor any white powdery deposits (the expected combustion byproducts of silicon) were found on any of the engine components. The reason for the loss of engine power could not be determined.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined because postaccident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

Findings

Environmental issues

Tree(s) - Contributed to outcome

Not determined

Not determined - Unknown/Not determined (Cause)

Factual Information

On June 3, 2014, about 1055 central daylight time, a Beech H35 airplane, N653T, impacted a parking lot following a total loss of engine power near Monroe, Louisiana. The commercial pilot was seriously injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to WFO Flying Services, and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a maintenance test flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated with a flight plan. The local flight originated from Monroe Regional Airport (KMLU), Monroe, Louisiana, about 1020.

The airplane was co-owned by the accident commercial pilot and another pilot. They acquired the airplane in March 2013. Months prior to the accident, the airplane had been mistakenly fueled with Jet-A by the other pilot. Data obtained from the onboard JPI engine data monitoring (EDM) system found that on November 1, 2013, the engines cylinder head temperatures (CHT) increased about 460° F several times during the flight. The airplane landed at KMLU and it was repaired. An invoice from the repair facility stated that the fuel tanks were drained and mechanics "flushed 5 gallons through fuels to clear them of contamination."  The engine was removed, repaired, and reinstalled on the airplane. The engine's fuel hoses were also replaced. Work was completed on the airplane on June 2, 2014.

On the day of the accident, the airplane departed KMLU for a maintenance test flight flown by the accident commercial pilot/co-owner. The pilot reported an unspecified fuel malfunction before the engine experienced a total loss of engine power. During the forced landing, the airplane collided with a tree and impacted a parking lot. The cockpit was distorted and crushed aft.  The airplane's right wing sustained more damage when compared to the left wing. The outboard portion of the right wing was torn outboard of the landing light. The fuselage was wrinkled and distorted. At the accident site, fuel was drained from each tank and from a fuel line leading to the engine. The fuel pulled from the fuel line leading to the engine was light orange in color. The fuel samples pulled from the fuel tanks appeared in color and clarity with 100 low lead fuel. The orange colored fuel was sent for fuel testing.

Gas chromatograph mass spectrometer testing was conducted on the orange colored fuel sample. The testing's certificate of analysis noted "if heavier compounds or polymers are present these were not seen on the gas chromatograph mass spectrometer. Testing found the presence of silicon in the quantity of 12.9 mg/kg.

An examination of the airframe and engine was conducted at a salvage facility. No preimpact anomalies were detected with the airframe or the fuel tanks. The fuel lines and fuel screens were all found clear and unobstructed. The engine examination did not detect any preimpact anomalies. No silica or white powdery deposits were noted in the fuel divider, cylinders, or spark plugs.

Data obtained from the JPI EDM, found that on the day of the accident, data for the accident flight began at a JPI EDM time of 1437:44. At 1517:20 EDM time, the engine's CHTs averaged 373° F and the exhaust gas temperatures (EGTs) averaged 1412° F. Within 6 seconds the EGTs averaged 780° F and continued to decay. About 2 minutes later, the EDM recorded "NA" values for several values.

Reliable scientific data does not exist to determine a level of silicon contamination prior to obstruction of an airplane's engine performance.

 

History of Flight

Approach

Unknown or undetermined (Defining event)

Loss of engine power (total)

Emergency descent

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

 

 

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Commercial

Age:

41

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 2 With Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

03/14/2014

Occupational Pilot:

 

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

 

Flight Time:

 

 

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

BEECH

Registration:

N653T

Model/Series:

H35

Aircraft Category:

Airplane

Year of Manufacture:

 

Amateur Built:

No

Airworthiness Certificate:

Normal

Serial Number:

D-4998

Landing Gear Type:

Retractable - Tricycle

Seats:

4

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

07/19/2013, Annual

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

2903 lbs

Time Since Last Inspection:

 

Engines:

1 Reciprocating

Airframe Total Time:

5475.13 Hours as of last inspection

Engine Manufacturer:

Continental

ELT:

Installed

Engine Model/Series:

O-470-G-CI

Registered Owner:

WFO FLYING SERVICE

Rated Power:

240 hp

Operator:

Private individual

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

None

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

KMLU, 81 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

0 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

1053 CDT

Direction from Accident Site:

194°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Thin Broken / 2200 ft agl

Visibility

10 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:

Broken / 2200 ft agl

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

Light and Variable /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

/

Wind Direction:

Variable

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

/

Altimeter Setting:

30.07 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

28°C / 21°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point:

Monroe, LA (MLU)

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Monroe, LA (MLU)

Type of Clearance:

VFR

Departure Time:

1020 CDT

Type of Airspace:

 

 

Airport Information

Airport:

MONROE REGIONAL (MLU)

Runway Surface Type:

Asphalt

Airport Elevation:

79 ft

Runway Surface Condition:

Dry

Runway Used:

18

IFR Approach:

None

Runway Length/Width:

5001 ft / 150 ft

VFR Approach/Landing:

Traffic Pattern

 

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:

32.528333, -92.037222 (est)

 


 


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Jason T Aguilera

Report Date:

05/16/2016

Additional Participating Persons:

Jason Adame; FAA FSDO; Baton Rouge, LA

Paul Yoos; Textron Aviation; Wichita, KS

Chris Lang; Continental Motors; Mobile, AL

Publish Date:

05/16/2016

Investigation Docket:

http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/dockList.cfm?mKey=89337