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N29DJ accident description

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Crash location 39.357222°N, 75.083889°W
Nearest city Millville, NJ
39.402060°N, 75.039344°W
3.9 miles away
Tail number N29DJ
Accident date 22 Jun 2008
Aircraft type Aero Vodochody Aero. Works L-29 Delfin
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On June 22, 2008, about 0805 eastern daylight time, an Aero Vodochody Aero. Works L-29 Delfin, N29DJ, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain, after it experienced a total loss of engine power while climbing, after takeoff from Millville Municipal Airport (MIV), Millville, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot and a passenger were killed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The airplane was built as a Czech military jet trainer and was certificated as an experimental aircraft in the exhibition category.

According to a communication transcript, the pilot contacted the Millville remote automated flight service station for airport advisories at 0757, and stated that he would be utilizing runway 28 for takeoff, a 6,002-foot-long, 150-foot-wide, asphalt runway. At 0801:16, the pilot reported that he was departing.

Witnesses reported that the airplane took off from runway 28, and the engine sounded like it experienced a loss of power, shortly after takeoff. One witness stated that the airplane's engine sounded "very loud" during the taxi, run-up, and takeoff portions of the flight. The airplane climbed to an altitude of about 700 to 1,000 feet, and began to make a left turn. The witness further stated:

"...When the aircraft was abeam the numbers at the approach end of runway 10, the loud engine went silent. A few seconds later, the left wing dipped and the aircraft went into a left spiraling spin, plunging below the tree line...."

The airplane struck pine trees, in a wooded area, about 1 mile southwest of the airport. There was no postcrash fire. A fuel odor was present at the accident scene and red-tinted fuel was observed in the airplane's main fuel tanks. Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector was conducted June 27, 2008.

According to the FAA inspector, examination of the engine's compressor and power turbine was consistent with low rpm. The main fuel filter was drained at the fuel filter housing through the sump drain, into a sample jar. The fuel was reddish-gray, contaminated with black sediment, and appeared "extremely cloudy." The fuel filter was then disassembled and displayed evidence of contamination. The fuel lines from the fuel filter to the high-pressure pump, to the fuel servo and to the fuel nozzles did not contain any evidence of fuel.

The inspector further stated that witnesses reported that the pilot fueled the airplane from a tank on the back of a pickup truck. According to fuel receipts, the pilot purchased about 138 gallons of "kerosene," 6 gallons of "off road diesel," and 27 gallons of "diesel" fuel, the day before the accident.

Data downloaded from a handheld Garmin 296 global positioning system (GPS) receiver, located in the wreckage, revealed that the airplane reached a maximum speed of 145 miles per hour and a maximum altitude of 847 feet.

According to records obtained from the FAA, the airplane was purchased by the pilot during June 2007, and registered under a Limited Liability Company (LLC). The airplane's maintenance records were not located.

Review of a preflight inspection checklist for the airplane revealed that it included discharging "2 liters" of fuel from the fuel filter drain to check for contamination.

The pilot reported 20,000 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for an FAA second-class medical certificate, which was dated August 29, 2007.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot and passenger on June 24, 2008, by the State of New Jersey Southern Regional Medical Examiner's Office, Woodbine, New Jersey. The autopsy reports for both occupants listed the cause of death as "multiple blunt trauma."

Toxicological testing conducted on the pilot by the FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Civil Aerospace Medical Institute was negative for drugs and alcohol.

A weather observation taken at MIV, at 0754, reported: variable winds at 3 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear sky, temperature 24 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 19 degrees C, altimeter 29.97 inches of mercury.

NTSB Probable Cause

A total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation as a result of a clogged fuel filter that was not identified due to the pilot's inadequate preflight inspection.

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