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N9075T accident description

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Crash location 43.439444°N, 85.995000°W
Nearest city Fremont, MI
43.467517°N, 85.942001°W
3.3 miles away
Tail number N9075T
Accident date 18 May 2013
Aircraft type Cessna 182C
Additional details: None
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NTSB Factual Report

On May 18, 2013, at 1400 eastern daylight time, a Cessna model 182C airplane, N9075T, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near the Fremont Municipal Airport (KFFX), Fremont, Michigan. The commercial pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by Premier Skydiving, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, without a flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the skydiving flight that departed KFFX at 1330.

The pilot reported that the purpose of the accident flight was to release four skydivers at 10,500 feet mean sea level (msl). He had flown a similar flight earlier that day to the same altitude without any anomalies with the airplane. Before the accident flight, he used a calibrated dipstick to determine how much fuel was on board the airplane. The left fuel tank contained 10 gallons of fuel and the right fuel tank contained 5 gallons of fuel. The pilot noted that the skydiving flight to 10,500 feet msl typically took 20-25 minutes and required 8 gallons of fuel.

The pilot reported that the flight climbed to 10,500 feet msl without any anomalies or malfunctions with the airplane. Typically, all of the skydivers exit the airplane during a single pass over the landing zone; however, the accident flight required two passes over the landing zone which added an additional 2-5 minutes to the accident flight. After releasing the final skydivers on the second pass, the pilot immediately initiated a descent to reenter the traffic pattern at KFFX. He stated that his descent was made with 15-inches of engine manifold pressure at 2,200 rpm, which resulted in a 1,000-1,500 feet per minute descent rate at 150 miles per hour. After entering the traffic pattern for runway 9 (3,502 feet by 75 feet, asphalt) he applied carburetor heat about midfield on the downwind leg. The pilot reported there were no anomalies with engine operation immediately after the application of carburetor heat; however, the airplane experienced a loss of engine power before the turn to the base leg.

The pilot reported seeing a helicopter approaching the airport from the west at a similar altitude to his airplane. The pilot stated that he delayed his turn onto base leg because the helicopter would have conflicted with a normal traffic pattern. He attempted to radio the helicopter pilot that he needed to land immediately, but the airplane was already in a position where a glide to the runway was not possible due to insufficient altitude. The pilot elected to make a forced landing to an agricultural field located adjacent to the airport property. The nose landing gear collapsed shortly after touchdown and the airplane subsequently nosed over. The engine firewall and wings were substantially damaged during the accident sequence.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) type certificate data sheet (TCDS) and pilot operating handbook (POH) for the Cessna model 182C lists a total fuel capacity of 65 gallons, evenly distributed between two wing fuel tanks. The airplane has 55 gallons of usable fuel (10 gallons unusable) available in all flight attitudes; however, an additional 3.5 usable gallons per wing fuel tank is available while the airplane operates in level flight.

A FAA maintenance inspector examined the airplane following the accident. The airplane remained upside down for two days before it was recovered to an upright attitude to facilitate the postaccident examination. The fuel tank selector valve was found positioned to draw fuel from both wing tanks. The FAA inspector reported that 2.5 gallons of fuel were recovered from the left wing fuel tank and 1.0 gallon of fuel was recovered from the right wing fuel tank. The FAA inspector did not identify any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation of the engine.

Following the accident, local law enforcement attempted to interview the pilot, who declined to be interviewed without legal representation. A sheriff deputy later interviewed the airport manager who was a first responder to the accident site. The airport manager reported that the pilot told him that he had run out of fuel while maneuvering to land. When interviewed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge, the pilot stated that the airplane "ran out of fuel" which resulted in a loss of engine power while in the traffic pattern. Additionally, the pilot said that there were no mechanical issues with the engine before the loss of engine power.

At 1354, the KFFX automated surface observing system reported the following weather conditions: wind 120 degrees true at 3 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky clear, temperature 25 degrees Celsius, dew point 6 degrees Celsius, altimeter setting 30.06 inches of mercury.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's improper preflight planning, which resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion while in the traffic pattern.

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