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N9102V accident description

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Tail numberN9102V
Accident dateDecember 14, 1995
Aircraft typePiper PA-46-310P
LocationGreenwood, SC
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On December 14, 1995, at 1403 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-46-310P, N9102V, was destroyed following a collision with power lines and terrain during a forced landing attempt near Greenwood, South Carolina. The commercial pilot was seriously injured, and his passenger was fatally injured in the accident. The airplane was being operated under the provisions of CFR Part 91, by the pilot, at the time of the accident. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight. The flight departed Charlotte, North Carolina about 1312, and was en route to Chamblee, Georgia.

Witnesses stated that the pilot of the N9102V called on the local radio frequency (UNICOM), and reported that he was low on fuel, and needed assistance in finding an airport. He was given directions to the Greenwood Airport. The pilot later called on the radio, and reported that the aircraft was out of fuel, and that he was attempting a landing on a four-lane road. The pilot later reported that "out of fuel" was a bad choice of words and that he should instead have stated that he had "lost the engine."

According to the record of interview (dated June 12, 1996) between the pilot and the NTSB IIC (investigator-in-charge), he stated that he did a "complete preflight inspection before departing Georgia. During the pre-flight he "noticed some type of liquid on the underside of the airplane fuselage," but that he did "not" make any effort to attempt to determine what the liquid was. The pilot told the IIC that the oil was "full." The pilot further stated that when he looked into the fuel tanks, the fuel was about the level of the "fuel filler cap," and that the fuel gauges, in the airplane indicated "about 25 gallons of fuel in each tank." He then added 15 gallons of fuel (30 total) to each tank.

The pilot stated that the flight to Charlotte was conducted "at 5,000 feet MSL [mean sea level]." He stated that when he departed, he used fuel from the "left " tank, and that after departure, he switched to the "right" fuel tank. The pilot also stated that he "leaned" the engine mixture in accordance with the "flight manual." On approach to Charlotte he had to recycle the landing gear, because of a light not illuminating. The flight landed without incident and "had lasted 1 hour 12 minutes."

Before departure from Charlotte the pilot did another preflight inspection, and according to the IIC's record of interview "...there did not appear to be any irregularities with the airplane during the inspection...the fuel in the fuel tanks appeared to be at the level of the filler caps."

According to the pilot, just past the Greenwood VOR, the airplane's engine "stopped producing power." He looked at the engine gauges and noticed that the fuel gauges where indicating "about 15 gallons in each tank." He executed a forced landing, and stated that he "did not remember any of the flight events," following the initiation of the forced landing.

Two witnesses, employed at Wood Aviation, Greenwood Airport, heard the pilot of N9102V on Greenwood UNICOM frequency, request vectors to the Greenwood Airport, because he was "out of fuel" According to the witnesses, they heard the pilot of N9102V, asking the pilot, of an airplane, that was in the airport traffic pattern, for vectors, that he was "low on fuel," and could not "find" or "see" the airport.

The airplane at the Greenwood Airport, departed the airport traffic pattern, located N9102V, about 7 miles east of the airport, flew to N9102V's location, gave the pilot vectors to the airport, and watched the airplane make the off airport landing. According to witnesses the last transmission heard from the pilot of N9102V, was "...I'm over a 4 lane highway...no more fuel."

The airplane impacted with wires, a utility pole, and came to rest, near a highway, about 3 miles northeast of Greenwood.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 32 degrees, 15 minutes north, and 82 degrees, 09 minutes west.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Information on the pilot is contained in this report on page 3, under First Pilot Information. The pilot's personal logbook containing his flight hours was not found.

The pilot told the NTSB IIC, that he thought he had a total of "about 10 hours experience" in this make and model airplane, and that all the flight experience in this make and model, had been obtained over a period of about "4 years." He stated that he had attended Epps Air Service ground school on the PA46 on "two separate occasions."

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Meteorological information is contained in this report on page 3, under Weather Information.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

Witnesses observed the airplane, strike two power lines, continue in the same direction, about 800 feet, strike a utility pole, and come to rest on it's right side. Two witnesses reported the possible presence of fuel when they observed the airplane after the accident. One witness stated he saw what he believed to be fuel leaking down the left wing. The second witness indicated he smelled fuel and believed fuel was sustaining the postcrash fire.

The leading edge of the left wing had burned forward of the left inboard aileron hinge, and a power line had penetrated the wing, breaching the left fuel tank. The remainder of the left wing did not burn or explode. When the airplane was turned upright the day after the accident, less than 1 gallon of fuel was drained from the fuel tank. The fuel selector was selected to the left fuel tank.

The right wing was found separated from the fuselage, and the fuel tank was ruptured. The right wing had exploded at the seams, and displayed fire damage. Fire damage was also observed in the engine compartment, the grassy area near the accident site, and the brush along the highway.

Control continuity was established throughout the flight control systems. The landing gear were found in the down position, and the elevator trim tab jack screw was found in the neutral position.

TEST AND RESEARCH

The engine was removed from the crash site and taken to Continental Motor's facilities in Mobile, Alabama, where it was disassembled in the presence of NTSB investigator Preston Hicks, on January 8, 1996. No discrepancies were found during the engine teardown. Information pertaining to the engine disassembly, can be found in Continental Motor's, analytical report, attached to this report.

Both turbochargers were torn down at Allied Signal's facilities, Phoenix, Arizona, on July 29, 1996. See Allied Signal's teardown report attached to this report.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Assistant Chief Flight Instructor and Manager, at Epps Aviation, last flew N9102V, on December 8, 1995. According to them this was "the last flight prior to the aircraft's departure on December 14th." According to their statement, "...[the Assistant Chief Flight Instructor] recalled about 30 gallons of fuel on the gauges...[the Manager] recalled between 25 and 30 gallons," remaining in the airplane's fuel tanks after their flight.

The last known fueling of the airplane was at Epps Aviation, on December 14, 1995, with 30 gallons of fuel. According to the pilot, the total fuel at that point was 80 gallons. According to the pilot the flight from Atlanta to Charlotte was 1 hour 12 minutes. The flight from Charlotte to the accident was about 1 hour.

The fuel flow and fuel burn rates were calculated using Piper's performance charts, and known information. The PA-46-310P had a total fuel capacity of 122 gallons, of which 120 gallons were usable fuel. Using the Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH), the airplane burned 20 gallons per hour of fuel at a power setting of 75 percent. At a flight duration of 2.2 hours, about 44 gallons of fuel were consumed, not counting the fuel used for taxi, takeoff, and climb.

On October 3, 1996, the Safety Board, fax transmitted, to the pilot, the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, Pilot/Operator Report, in effort to get his factual account of the events that occurred during the flight. A letter, dated October 21, 1996, was received by the NTSB, written by an attorney representing the pilot, confirmed that the pilot had received the form. The NTSB Form 6120.1/2, was never returned.

On March 18, 1997, the Safety Board received a letter from the pilot's attorney, the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, and a letter from the pilot's brother. All of these documents have been attached to this report.

The aircraft wreckage was released to Mr. Harvey Brodin, representing the owner's insurance company, on December 18, 1995.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.