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N6685M accident description

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Crash location 41.132500°N, 74.340277°W
Nearest city West Milford, NJ
41.100096°N, 74.391264°W
3.5 miles away
Tail number N6685M
Accident date 27 Feb 2005
Aircraft type Cessna 182P
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On February 27, 2005, at 1305 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182P, N6685M, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following a loss of engine power during the initial climb from Greenwood Lake Airport (4N1), West Milford, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot/owner and pilot rated passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to witness statements, prior to the accident flight the airplane was placed in a hangar for approximately 1 hour, for preflight inspection and "de-ice," and was then placed outside. The pilot was observed rocking the wings up and down with his hands, and carrying a fuel sample cup. After the preflight, the pilot performed a "lengthy" run-up, and taxied into position for takeoff at the threshold of runway 06. Engine power increased, and the airplane lifted off about 400 to 500 feet later. After climbing to an approximate height of 50 to 200 feet above the ground, and at a point about 1,300 feet down the runway, a "puff of blackish" or "dark" smoke was observed coming from the area of the engine cowl. The airplane then lost altitude, and touched down approximately 20 feet from the end of the runway pavement. It briefly became airborne again, and then sank below the level of the runway, and out of view.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He reported a total flight time of 600 hours on his most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate, dated January 13, 2005.


The airplane was manufactured in 1975. The Airplane's original logbooks were destroyed by a house fire in 1992. It was equipped with the original engine, which according to the post fire maintenance records, had been overhauled in 1988 at 3,122.5 hours of operation. On November 15, 1988 Cessna fuel cap kit SK-182-85 was installed to prevent power loss or engine stoppage due to water contamination of the fuel system. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on May 10, 2004, and at that time, it had accumulated 4,231.5 total hours of operation.

According to the maintenance and pilot records, during the period between the two most recent annual inspections, the airplane was operated a total of 3.4 hours. Between August 1, 1998 and September 4, 2004, the airplane was operated a total of 37.9 hours.


A weather observation taken about 12 minutes prior to the accident at the Sussex Airport (FWN), Sussex, New Jersey, located approximately 14 nautical miles west of the accident site, recorded the wind as variable at 3 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky clear, temperature 30 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 9 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.26 inches of mercury.


Greenwood Lake airport experienced approximately 30,000 aircraft movements per year. It had one runway, 06/24. The runway was asphalt, and in good condition. The total length was 4,000 feet long and 60 feet wide. The threshold for runway 06 had been relocated 340 feet northeast on June 6, 2003, as a result of encroachment in the airport safety zone.

Examination of the 340 feet of pavement revealed that it was not marked as a displaced threshold, which according to the Aeronautical Information Manual would have made it "available for takeoffs in either direction and landings from the opposite direction. Further examination showed that in actuality, it was marked as a taxiway aligned with a runway, and could only be used for aircraft ground movement.

Due to the 340 feet of pavement marked as a taxiway aligned with a runway, and a chevroned runway safety area on the departure end of runway 06, the usable length was actually 3,470 feet.


The accident occurred during the hours of daylight. The wreckage was located at 41 degrees, 07.953 minutes north latitude, 74 degrees, 20.418 minutes west longitude, at an elevation of about 757 feet msl.

After striking several trees and a power line, the airplane came to rest next to a road 362 feet northeast of the departure end of runway 06, and about 51 feet in elevation below it.

The debris path was about 20 feet long, and orientated on a heading of 086 degrees magnetic.

All the major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site.

The main wreckage displayed varying degrees of impact damage, and a postcrash fire consumed the majority of the cockpit and cabin. The left wing, right wing, and tail section, along with all the associated flight control surfaces displayed different degrees of damage. The main wreckage was partially inverted, and the right wing had separated from the airframe. The flap actuator and surviving portions of the flap tracks correlated to the flaps up position. The elevator trim correlated to approximately neutral. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the ailerons to the surviving inboard portions of the wings, and from the elevator and rudder panels to the approximate location of the cabin.

Examination of the cockpit revealed that the throttle control was in the maximum power position, the mixture control was full rich, and the propeller control was set to high RPM.

Examination of the propeller revealed that both propeller blades displayed slight scratching on the propeller tips and minimal impact damage with the exception of one blade that exhibited slight bending in the rearward direction. Both blades had remained attached to the hub. However, the blades could be separately rotated from the low pitch setting to the high pitch setting by hand.

Examination of the engine revealed minimal impact and postcrash fire damage with the exception of the No. 5 cylinder valve cover, which had a 3/8-inch diameter, puncture hole, and the right magneto, which exhibited impact damage. Both left-hand engine mounts were fractured. Continuity of the intake system, exhaust system, valve train, and crankshaft was confirmed. The crankshaft was then rotated by hand, and no binding was noted. Thumb compression and spark continuity was obtained on all six cylinders, and all spark plugs electrodes were intact and appeared normal.

Examination of the fuel system from the firewall forward was conducted. The fuel line from the fuel strainer to the carburetor was removed, and a fuel sample was obtained for examination. The sample appeared to be dull, cloudy and visible contamination was evident. The carburetor was removed and disassembled to inspect the inside of the float bowl. The internal portion of the float bowl was clean, and free of sediment and debris.

A fluid sample was obtained from the fuel strainer. When the fluid sample was applied to a coupon containing water-finding paste, the paste turned to a reddish-pink color, indicating the presence of water. The fuel strainer bowl was then removed and a large piece of ice with visible contaminants suspended in it was found attached to the filter assembly.


Shoulder harnesses were installed by the manufacturer as standard equipment for the pilot and front passenger seat positions.

During examination of the occupant restraint system, it was revealed that the shoulder harness retaining studs on both the pilot and front passenger seat positions, were not snapped on to the seat belt assemblies.

According to the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute's publication AM-400-90/2, seat belts will only protect occupants in minor impacts; however the use of shoulder belts will reduce major injuries by 88 percent and fatalities by 20 percent.


Autopsies were performed on the pilot and pilot rated passenger by the New Jersey Office of the Regional Medical Examiner, Newark, New Jersey.

Toxicological testing of the pilot and pilot rated passenger was conducted at the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The pilot's forensic toxicology report revealed:

"1.456 (ug/ml, ug/g) PSEUDOEPHEDRINE present in Blood

PSEUDOEPHEDRINE present in Urine

SILDENAFIL NOT detected in Blood

SILDENAFIL present in Urine



The toxicological report for the pilot rated passenger revealed that no drugs or ethanol were detected in his urine.


A fluid sample obtained from the fuel strainer was examined after the approximately 2 inch by 1 inch piece of ice was allowed to melt. The sample was consistent in color with water and contained visible contamination. When the fluid sample was applied to a coupon containing water-finding paste, the paste turned to a reddish-pink color, indicating the presence of water.

FAA advisory circular 20-113 states that "Ice formation in the aircraft fuel system results from the presence of water in the fuel system. This water may be undissolved or dissolved. One condition of undissolved water is entrained water, which consists of minute water particles suspended in the fuel. This may occur as a result of mechanical agitation of free water or conversion of dissolved water through temperature reduction. Entrained water will settle out in time under static conditions and may or may not be drained during normal servicing, depending on the rate at which it is converted to free water. In general, it is not likely that all entrained water can ever be separated from fuel under field conditions. The settling rate depends on a series of factors including temperature, quiescence and droplet size" and that "The droplet size will vary depending upon the mechanics of formation. Usually, the particles are so small as to be invisible to the naked eye, but in extreme cases, can cause slight haziness in the fuel. Water in solution cannot be removed except by dehydration or by converting it through temperature reduction to entrained, then to free water".

It further states that "Another condition of undissolved water is free water which may be introduced as a result of refueling or the settling of entrained water that collects at the bottom of a fuel tank. Free water is usually present in easily detectable quantities at the bottom of the tank, separated by a continuous interface from the fuel above. Free water can be drained from a fuel tank through the sump drains which are provided for that purpose. Free water frozen on the bottom of reservoirs, such as the fuel tanks and fuel filter, may render water drains useless and can later melt releasing the water into the system thereby causing engine malfunction or stoppage. If such a condition is detected, the aircraft may be placed in a warm hangar to reestablish proper draining of these reservoirs, and all sumps and drains should be activated and checked prior to any flying. Entrained water (i.e., water in solution with petroleum fuels) constitutes a relatively small part of the total potential water in a particular system, the quantity dissolved being dependent on fuel temperature and the existing pressure and the water solubility characteristics of the fuel. Entrained water will freeze in cold fuel and tend to stay in suspension longer since the specific gravity of ice is approximately the same as that of aviation gasoline." Additionally, "Water in suspension may freeze and form ice crystals of sufficient size such that fuel screens, strainers, and filters may be blocked. Some of this water may be cooled further when the fuel enters carburetor air passages and causes carburetor metering component icing, when conditions are not otherwise conducive to this form of icing".


According to the Cessna Model 182 and Skylane Owners Manual, under the section titled "flyable storage" it states: "keep fuel tanks full to minimize condensation in the tanks." It further states that: "if the aircraft is to be stored temporarily, or indefinitely, refer to the service manual for proper storage procedures."

A review of the Cessna Aircraft Company, Model 182 and Skylane Series Service Manual showed that: "flyable storage is defined as a maximum of 30 days non-operational storage and/or the first 25 hours of intermittent engine operation." "Temporary storage is defined as aircraft in a non-operational status for a maximum of 90 days." "Indefinite storage is defined as aircraft in a non-operational status for an indefinite period of time." Additionally, in the "returning aircraft to service" section it states: " Check fuel strainer. Remove and clean filter screen. Check fuel cells and fuel lines for moisture and sediment. Drain enough fuel to eliminate moisture and sediment."

The airplane was based at 4N1 and was stored in an outdoors parking area when not being operated. A records search of fuel providers revealed that the airplane had last been refueled on August 20, 2004 at the Orange County Airport (MGJ), Montgomery, New York.

A review of the pilot's logbook showed that the airplane had not flown since September 4, 2004.


The wreckage was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company on March 10, 2005.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's inadequate preflight inspection, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel ice, during the initial climb after takeoff.

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