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N361Z accident description

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Crash location 33.811667°N, 78.723889°W
Nearest city N. Myrtle Beach, SC
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Tail number N361Z
Accident date 30 May 2004
Aircraft type Cessna 310
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On May 30, 2004 at 1210 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 310, N361Z, registered to and operated by Atlanta Flight Time, LLC, ditched in the Intracoastal Waterway two miles short of runway 23 at Grand Strand Airport/North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The personal flight was conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91, and instrument flight rules (IFR). Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and an IFR flight plan was on file. The commercial pilot and two passengers sustained minor injuries and one pilot-rated passenger egressed the airplane, but was subsequently recovered from the waterway 48 hours later. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight originated at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, Chamblee, Georgia, on May 30, 2004, at 1020.

On May 30, 2004, at 0940, the pilot of N361Z telephoned the Macon Automated Flight Service Station and requested to file an instrument flight plan from DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Chamblee, Georgia, to Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The pilot was given a standard preflight weather briefing, and after which he filed an instrument flight plan.

The pilot stated that during the preflight planning and inspection of the airplane, he estimated 80 gallons of fuel to be on board by visual inspection of the fuel tanks as well as referencing to the fuel gauges in the cockpit. He stated that he calculated fuel burn to be approximately 12 gallons per hour, per engine, or 24 gallons per hour total including a margin of error. The pilot stated that the airplane's weight and balance for the flight was calculated and found to be within operating limitations. He further stated that no mechanical abnormalities were noted during the preflight inspection of the airplane or during the before takeoff run-up.

At 1010, the pilot radioed DeKalb-Peachtree Airport ground control and requested an instrument flight clearance to Grand Strand Airport, and taxi instructions for takeoff from the north ramp. The ground controller issued the pilot the instrument clearance as requested and cleared the flight to taxi to runway 20L for the instrument departure. The pilot acknowledged the instrument clearance and taxi instructions. At 1024: 24, the pilot established radio contact with Atlanta Departure Control after takeoff from runway 21.

The pilot stated that the take-off, climb to 9000 feet, and the enroute portions of the flight were uneventful. At 1202:04, Myrtle Beach East Radar reported that the flight was 7 miles from the initial approach fix for the ILS Runway 23 approach. The pilot stated that upon entering the North Myrtle Beach terminal area, he was given an approach clearance for the ILS Runway 23 approach and the pilot was instructed to maintain 2000 feet. At 1202:56, the pilot acknowledged the approach clearance and was also instructed to contact Grand Strand Tower. No further radio communication was recorded between the flight and the air traffic control system.

According to the pilot when the flight was approximately four miles from the runway, the right engine began to sputter. The pilot stated that he attempted to restart the right engine, and it briefly produced power and then sputtered again. The pilot stated that he feathered the right propeller and "continued the approach single engine." The pilot also stated that "as the approach progressed, [he] realized that [the airplane] could not maintain the glide slope... or clear a tree line ahead." The pilot stated that he was then committed to ditching the airplane in the nearby waterway. So, the pilot retracted the landing gear, and the airplane touched down tail low in the water. The pilot and the three passengers were able to egress from the airplane through the right door into the water. A nearby boat came to the aid of one passenger and attempted to help the deceased passenger. The pilot and other passengers were able to swim to shore. The airplane sank in 12-20 feet of water.

At 1211:05, Grand Strand Tower informed North Myrtle Beach East Radar that a Cessna had gone down in the intracoastal waterway, and an emergency crew was enroute to the accident site.


The pilot was issued a commercial certificate on July 5, 2002, with ratings for airplane multi-engine land and instrument airplane. He held a valid second-class medical certificate issued March 31, 2004, with the restrictions "must wear corrective lenses." A review of the pilot logbooks revealed the pilot's total flight time of 405 hours, of which 143 hours were in a multi-engine aircraft and 68 hours were in the Cessna 310.


A review of the aircraft and engine logbooks revealed that the annual inspection was completed on August 6, 2003.

A review of records on file with Air Tuskegee, Tuskegee, Alabama, revealed the airplane was refueled on May 29, 2004 with 40 gallons of 100-low lead aviation fuel. The pilot-in-command of that flight stated that upon returning to DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, there were about 58-60 gallons of fuel on board the airplane. He further stated that the airplane was not refueled that evening or prior to the accident flight on May 30, 2004.

According to the 1955 Cessna 310 owner's manual, the main wingtip fuel tanks have a capacity of 102 gallons, of which 100 gallons are usable fuel and two gallons are unusable. It states the cruise fuel consumption, with lean mixture at gross weight ranges from 22 total gallons to 25 total gallons of fuel per hour. Climb fuel consumption to 9,000 feet, with full power at gross weight is between 6 gallons and 7 gallons of fuel.

The owner's manual designates 93 miles per hour (mph) as the single engine minimum control speed. It further states that during a single-engine landing, when the airspeed is below 93 mph, the airplane is committed to land.


At 1210, the North Myrtle Beach/Grand Strand Airport weather reporting facility reported the winds variable at 10 knots, eight statute miles of visibility, broken cloud layers at 1,500 feet and 2,000 feet, temperature of 26 degrees Celsius and dew point of 24 degrees Celsius.


The airplane was ditched in the intracoastal waterway two miles short of runway 23. The post-accident examination of the airplane revealed the airframe was intact. Both propellers were bent aft on both blades. The underside of the fuselage and nose had some buckling and tearing of the skin. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit flight controls to all flight control surfaces. The cockpit throttle controls were set to idle. The left propeller control was set to high rpm; the right propeller control was set to low rpm. The left mixture control was set at full rich; the mixture control was set at idle cut-off. Engine control continuity was established from the cockpit power to controls to all engine power controls. The fuel selectors were set to the corresponding fuel tanks.

Examination of both engines revealed suction and compression in all cylinders, full valve action, and internal components were intact and rotated freely. Magneto ignition sparks on both magnetos in each engine were observed. Fuel system continuity was established from the tip tanks to the fuel strainer, and the fuel strainer and the fuel pump were intact and free of debris. When water was displaced from the engine assemblies, fuel systems, and magnetos, both engines started and produced power at idle and high RPM settings. No anomalies were observed during the functional engine checks.

Further examination of the propeller and assemblies revealed both propellers were able to cycle "normally" through entire pitch ranges. There was a large amount of oil present in both propeller cylinders, indicitive of neither propeller being in feather during the accident. Blade damage suggested that both propellers were operating with low or no power and that the left propeller had more rotational energy than the right propeller. No mechanical malfunction was observed of either of the propeller assemblies.


The Horry County Coroner's Office, Conway, South Carolina, conducted a postmortem examination of the passenger on June 1, 2004. The reported cause of death was as "asphyxia due to drowning."


The Cessna 310 owner's manual checklist for 'Engine Failure During Flight' is comprised of 15 steps. Steps 9, 10, and 11 are as follows: (9) If cause of [engine] failure was not determined, put mixture in "IDLE CUT-OFF." (10) Feather inoperative propeller. (11) Secure dead engine by turning boost pump, fuel selector valve, and ignition switches "OFF."

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.