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N303PJ accident description

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Crash location 41.253056°N, 70.060278°W
Nearest city Nantucket, MA
41.283457°N, 70.166128°W
5.9 miles away
Tail number N303PJ
Accident date 29 Nov 2011
Aircraft type Cessna 402B
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On November 29, 2011, at 1333 eastern standard time, a Cessna 402B, N303PJ, operated by Nantucket Express, incurred minor damage while landing at Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK), Nantucket Massachusetts. The certificated airline transport pilot was not injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Norwood Memorial Airport (OWD), Norwood, Massachusetts, about 1300.

The pilot reported that he was returning home, following a flight evaluation. While on a short final approach to runway 15, as he fully extended the flaps, the left engine experienced a total loss of power. The pilot switched fuel tanks for the left engine; however, it did not restart and the airplane descended quickly. The airplane touched down on a grassy area about 650 feet prior to the runway. It then bounced onto the runway and came to rest. During the landing, the right propeller and left wing skin were damaged. The pilot subsequently started both engines and taxied to the ramp area uneventfully.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that there was approximately 7 gallons of fuel in the left main fuel tank. There was also about 7 gallons of fuel in the right main fuel tank and approximately 2 gallons of fuel in each auxiliary fuel tank. The fuel was sampled and no contamination was noted. Additionally, an examination of the left engine did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions.

The FAA inspector reported that the 50-gallon left and right main fuel tanks were each equipped with a fuel transfer pump, which pumped fuel from the front of its respective main fuel tank to the fuel pick-up near the center of the main fuel tank. The fuel transfer pumps were designed to operate continuously whenever the airplane battery switch was in the on position. During examination of the airplane, the FAA inspector noted that the left main fuel tank transfer pump was operating and the right main fuel tank transfer pump was not.

During a telephone interview following the airplane examination, the pilot stated that the incident happened so fast and on such a short final approach, that he could not be certain which engine lost power. He added that it was quite possible the right engine experienced the loss of power. The pilot further stated that he moved the left engine fuel selector from left main to left auxiliary as he believed he had a left engine failure.

Review of a pilot's operating handbook (POH) for the make and model airplane, section 4, Preflight Inspection, revealed, in part, "…Battery Switch – ON…Tip Tank Transfer Pump – LISTEN for operation…" with regards to the left and right main (tip) fuel tanks. Further review of the POH, section 7, Airplane and System Descriptions, revealed, in part, "…The transfer pump, mounted on the aft side of the main tank rear bulkhead, transfers fuel from the nose section of the main tank to the center sump area, where it is picked up and routed to the engine by the engine-driven or auxiliary fuel pump. The transfer pump permits steep descents with low main tank fuel quantity…"

Review of FAA service difficulty reports for the make and model airplane revealed one other report of a fuel transfer pump failure.

NTSB Probable Cause

The failure of the right main fuel tank transfer pump, which resulted in a total loss of engine power on the right engine during approach due to fuel starvation, and a subsequent hard landing. Contributing to the incident was the pilot's operation of the airplane with a low fuel quantity.

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