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N33EM accident description

Maryland map... Maryland list
Crash location 38.315278°N, 76.550000°W
Nearest city Leonardtown, MD
38.291238°N, 76.635794°W
4.9 miles away
Tail number N33EM
Accident date 02 Aug 2003
Aircraft type Mooney M20B
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On August 2, 2003, at 0940 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20B, N33EM, was substantially damaged during a forced landing after a takeoff from Duke Regional Airport (2W6), Leonardtown, Maryland. The certificated airline transport pilot received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight to Shannon Airport (EZF), Fredericksburg, Virginia. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, the purpose of the flight was to return the airplane to Shannon to have problems with the landing gear and airspeed indicating system corrected.

In a written statement, the pilot stated that he performed a preflight and run-up inspection prior to his departure, during which, he noted no anomalies. After departure from runway 29, the pilot was unable to unlock the gear latch to retract the landing gear. As he continued to try to raise the gear, at 150 feet agl, the engine surged and then lost complete power. The propeller continued to windmill, and the pilot initiated an immediate left turn to locate a suitable landing area. After he turned the airplane approximately 90 degrees, the pilot located relatively flat terrain and prepared for a forced landing. He reduced the airspeed to just above stall speed (65 mph) and kept the left wing low to absorb the impact. During the landing, the airplane stopped quickly as the right main landing gear retracted and spun the airplane to the right, about 50 degrees from the touchdown heading.

In a telephone interview, the pilot stated that when the engine lost power, it sounded as if it "was not getting fuel." He reported that he last fueled the airplane about two weeks prior to the accident, at which time, he topped off the tanks. Since the fueling, he made two flights which totaled about 40 minutes in duration. The pilot also stated that he sumped the fuel tanks during the preflight inspection and noted no water or contamination.

The pilot reported 7,215 hours of total flight experience, 1,153 of which were in make and model.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the left wing fuel filler cap did not seat correctly into its fuel tank fitting. The inspector sumped the left fuel tank and observed "several ounces" of water in the fuel sample. He also took a sample of fuel from the right fuel tank, which did not contain any water. Approximately 18 gallons of fuel was drained from each fuel tank.

The engine was examined by a Safety Board investigator on September 2, 2003. Examination of the engine revealed approximately one teaspoon of water in a 4-5 ounce sample of fuel observed in the carburetor bowl. Water was also observed in the engine driven fuel pump, and corrosion was noted on the pump. Impact damage sustained to the engine prevented it from being test run.

A Safety Board meteorologist collected recorded precipitation totals from Patuxent River Naval Air Station, 7 miles east of 2W6, where the airplane was based, for a period extending two weeks prior to the accident. A review of this data revealed 2.3 inches of rain fell between July 19, 2003 and the day of the accident.

NTSB Probable Cause

A loss of engine power due to water contamination of the fuel. A factor was the fuel cap not being secured to the tank.

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