Plane crash map Locate crash sites, wreckage and more

N3659Z accident description

Delaware map... Delaware list
Crash location 38.687500°N, 75.359167°W
Nearest city Georgetown, DE
38.690113°N, 75.385473°W
1.4 miles away
Tail number N3659Z
Accident date 28 Jan 2017
Aircraft type Piper PA22
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On January 28, 2017, about 1400 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-22-150, N3659Z, was destroyed after it experienced an in-flight fire following takeoff from Delaware Coastal Airport (GED), Georgetown, Delaware. The private pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight that was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot, prior to departing GED, he checked the engine oil level, performed a visual inspection of the engine compartment and an engine run-up with no anomalies noted. After departing runway 28, the airplane reached 1,400 feet, and the pilot noticed "thick" smoke coming from behind the instrument panel and then the glareshield. The pilot attempted to return to GED and opened the vent on the left door to evacuate smoke and allow him to search for a runway to land. He then noted flames by his feet and legs, and while "sideslipping" the airplane, burning portions of the roof lining began to fall on him. The airplane continued to descend, and during the subsequent landing roll, the pilot reduced the throttle and mixture to shut down the engine. He pulled on the brake handle; however, the airplane did not slow. The pilot proceeded to egress while the airplane was in motion. The airplane came to rest in a grass area off the right side of runway 4.

Initial examination of the airplane revealed that the fuselage, empennage, and right wing were consumed by fire. The left wing was partially consumed by fire. The engine remained attached to the fuselage and the propeller remained attached to the engine.

According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the airplane was manufactured in 1960 and registered to the pilot on June 13, 1990. It was equipped with a Lycoming O-320-A2B, a 150-horepower engine. According to the maintenance logbooks, the airplane's most recent annual inspection was performed on January 1, 2017, at a total time of 3,740.5 hours, about 2 operational hours prior to the accident.

According to the Piper PA-22 Owner's Manual, the airplane was equipped with two 18-gallon fuel tanks located in the wings, which drained individually according to the position of the fuel selector valve on the left forward cabin wall. "The main fuel strainer, through which all fuel going to the carburetor flows, is located on the lower left engine side of the firewall…The engine primer pump on the right side of the instrument panel takes fuel from the main gascolator and pumps it directly to all four cylinders of the engine."

According to an NTSB fire protection engineer who examined the wreckage, the pilot's description of the fire in the accident sequence was consistent with a liquid fuel-fed fire. Several sections of the airplane fuel system were consumed by fire. The fuel selector valve was thermally damaged and its function could not be verified. The output fuel line from the fuel selector to the firewall was consumed by fire. The input fuel line from the right-side wing tank was also consumed by fire. The engine primer pump was not located with the wreckage. The primer pump fuel lines were consumed by fire inside the cockpit. Several small sections of copper primer pump fuel lines were located on the firewall with melted ends. The fuel primer lines in the engine compartment remained intact and did not appear to leak. The main fuel line from the fuel strainer to the carburetor, which was located on the left side of the engine compartment, was found loose on the carburetor side. The lower left portion of the engine cowling exhibited more thermal damage than the right side.

NTSB Probable Cause

An in-flight fire for reasons that could not be determined due to extensive thermal damage to the airplane.

© 2009-2020 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.