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N3454K accident description

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Crash location 36.190277°N, 86.699722°W
Nearest city Nashville, TN
36.165890°N, 86.784443°W
5.0 miles away
Tail number N3454K
Accident date 08 Jun 2006
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-140
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On June 8, 2006, at 1227 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N3454K, registered to and operated by a private individual as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided with trees during a forced landing following loss of engine power at the Cornelia Fort Airpark, Nashville, Tennessee. The airplane received substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The private pilot received minor injuries, and the passenger reported no injuries. The flight originated from the Smithville Municipal Airport, Smithville, Tennessee, on June 8, 2006, at 1140.

According to the pilot, the airplane was topped with fuel before a 30 minute local flight on June 4, 2006. On June 8th the day of the accident, the airplane departed the Cornelia Fort Airpark for Smithville, Tennessee, a distance of 45 nautical miles. After a brief time on the ground in Smithville the airplane departed for the return trip to Cornelia Fort Airpark. The pilot reported that on take-off he smelled fuel but that the smell dissipated after he leveled off. About 20 minutes into the flight the smell of fuel returned and that the fuel pressure began to drop. The pilot switched to the left tank and the fuel smell subsided and the fuel pressure stabilized. As the airplane neared the destination airport the fuel pressure began to drop again. The engine quit while the airplane was on a downwind leg for runway 04. The pilot switched fuel tanks again but was unable to get the engine restarted. The pilot made an off-airport landing in dense brush and small trees short of the runway. The pilot reported the airplane had 10 gallons of fuel remaining in the left tank and 20-30 gallons in the right tank at the time of the accident.

Examination of the airplane by NTSB was performed on August 8, 2006. The fuselage was on a flat-bed trailer that was used to transport the airplane from Nashville. It was observed that the outlet fuel line from the engine-driven fuel pump to the carburetor was disconnected at the fuel pump fitting. Recovery personnel indicated that they had not removed or detached any fuel lines during the airplane recovery. The fuel pump fitting had slight corrosion on the outlet fitting. The fuel line was blocked with insect material, especially at the mid point of the line where a fuel-flow transducer was installed. The insect material was fresh and evidence indicates had entered the fuel line after the accident. The gascolator screen was examined and found clean; the fuel screen in the carburetor was removed and noted as clean. The fuel line was cleared of debris and reattached.

The insect debris was cleared from the fuel line and the fuel line was reconnected. The propeller, which had been bent in the accident, was removed, straightened, and reinstalled. The engine was primed and started. The engine started immediately and was run at 1,200 RPM for a few minutes before being shut down. The engine was run on both the left and right magnetos during the engine run. The fuel screen in the carburetor was checked after the engine run and noted as clean.

The engine had been modified to deliver 160 HP and at that time had the fuel flow transducer installed in the fuel line between the fuel pump and the carburetor. The aircraft had flown 49.5 hours since the modification which was done during the last annual inspection on September 5, 2005 at total aircraft time 2,213.4 hours.

NTSB Probable Cause

Improper installation of the fuel line by maintenance personnel which resulted in the fuel line disconnecting and a loss of engine power during approach.

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