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N3812V accident description

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Crash location 43.420834°N, 70.505278°W
Nearest city Biddeford, ME
43.492584°N, 70.453384°W
5.6 miles away
Tail number N3812V
Accident date 15 Jun 2012
Aircraft type Cessna 170
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On June 15, 2012, about 1815 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 170, N3812V, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain following a loss of engine power after takeoff from Biddeford Municipal Airport (B19), Biddeford, Maine. The certificated private pilot/owner and certificated flight instructor sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Both the flight instructor and the pilot/owner provided written statements, and their statements were consistent throughout. According to their statements, the preflight inspection, engine start, taxi, and takeoff checks were all completed in accordance with the checklist with no anomalies noted. The pilot/owner performed the takeoff and said the airplane seemed to "take forever" to reach takeoff speed, and that the airplane used "the whole runway" during the takeoff roll.

When the airplane reached about 1,000 feet, the engine stopped producing power, and the instructor took control of the airplane. He turned the airplane back towards the departure airport, and performed remedial actions to regain engine power, but was unsuccessful. When he determined the airplane would not reach the airport, he performed a forced landing to wooded terrain. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings, fuselage and empennage, but both pilots egressed without assistance.


The pilot/owner held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. He reported 74 total hours of flight experience, of which 2 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.

The flight instructor held airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates with multiple ratings. He reported 4,594 total hours of flight experience, of which 2 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records and the airplane’s maintenance logs, the airplane was manufactured in 1948, and its most recent annual inspection was completed on May 8, 2012, at 3,969 total aircraft hours.


At 1815, the weather reported at Sanford Regional Airport (SFM), Sanford, Maine, about 11 miles southwest of the accident site, included clear skies and winds from 130 at 5 knots. The temperature was 22 degrees C, the dew point was 12 degrees C, and the altimeter setting was 30.28 inches of mercury.


An FAA inspector performed a preliminary inspection of the wreckage at the scene, and then a detailed inspection after the airplane was recovered. The engine was rotated at the propeller, and continuity was established through the powertrain and valve train to the accessory section. Spark was produced by both magnetos, and ignition timing was confirmed. The fuel system was intact, and removal of the fuel pump caused water to spill from the pump. The pump was actuated by hand, and water was ejected from the pump. The carburetor float bowl contained a "50-50" mixture of water and fuel.

NTSB Probable Cause

A total loss of engine power due to water contamination of the fuel. Contributing to the accident was the pilot/owner’s inadequate preflight inspection.

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