|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||0601 To 1200|
|Locale Reference||atc facility : mlu|
airport : m79
|Altitude||msl bound lower : 1300|
msl bound upper : 1300
|Controlling Facilities||tracon : mlu|
|Operator||general aviation : corporate|
|Make Model Name||Small Aircraft, High Wing, 1 Eng, Fixed Gear|
|Flight Phase||cruise other|
|Route In Use||approach : visual|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : instrument|
pilot : commercial
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 19|
flight time total : 7000
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : critical|
non adherence : published procedure
non adherence : far
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||none taken : unable|
none taken : detected after the fact
|Primary Problem||Flight Crew Human Performance|
|Air Traffic Incident||Pilot Deviation|
I began to smell gas fumes in the cabin of the small aircraft I was flying. I was above a layer of thin scattered clouds at 3500' VFR. I immediately marked the gas gauges and discovered I was losing fuel at an abnormal rate. After passing ruston, la, I started sharply banking the plane to the left and right to see if any fuel was collecting in the wings, and after repeating the maneuvers several times I saw no fuel leaking out of the wings running down on the side of the fuselage. Then I wondered about a broken gas line in the engine compartment, but the engine was running smooth. By the fuel gauges, I had now lost several gallons of fuel. Then I figured I must have lost a fuel tank cap or caps and if not lost, loose and causing fuel to be siphoned from the tanks. I was still at 3500' with the transponder on VFR frequency 1200. I attempted to contact approach control on frequency 126.9, a frequency ftw FSS had given me for monroe approach from the west. After 3 or 4 attempts got no contact. However, sometimes controllers are busy and can't respond promptly. I decided I'd land at rayville airport and check things over. I set 1 navigation on a to heading to the monroe VOR and the other on a from heading from the monroe VOR. I figured if I dropped through a hole at the 170 degree right from, I'd be close past the TCA. However, when I dropped down through a hole, I was south of I-20 and the autoplt but still in the TCA. I was aware I could still try to declare an emergency, but I felt I had my problem figured out, and a declared emergency shuts everything down around an autoplt, so under the circumstances the thing to do was clear the TCA as quickly as possible, not knowing if I'd be able to contact approach control on another try, and proceed to rayville airport. After landing at rayville airport and checking the aircraft over, I did find the right fuel tank cap was loose and flopping in the hole which explained the losing fuel bit, also during the sharp bank maneuvers every time I banked right I lost a bunch of fuel. The fuel cap was checked very carefully and worked ok, but for some reason had come unlocked and flopping in the hold or tank opening. My leaving 3500' between layers west/O a DME when I did and dropping out into the TCA was poor navigation on my part and I should not have left the 3500' level west/O having made contact with approach control. Reflecting back, I suppose I should have tried contacting the tower as well. Poor flight procedures, worrying with an emergency situation, which could have gotten explosive but by the grace of god didn't, and being in a TCA at that altitude and no contact with approach controller being a danger to myself and possibly others.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: GA SMA WITH FUEL FUMES MAKES PRECAUTIONARY LNDG AT SECONDARY ARPT AND MAKES UNAUTH PENETRATION OF TRSA.
Narrative: I BEGAN TO SMELL GAS FUMES IN THE CABIN OF THE SMA I WAS FLYING. I WAS ABOVE A LAYER OF THIN SCATTERED CLOUDS AT 3500' VFR. I IMMEDIATELY MARKED THE GAS GAUGES AND DISCOVERED I WAS LOSING FUEL AT AN ABNORMAL RATE. AFTER PASSING RUSTON, LA, I STARTED SHARPLY BANKING THE PLANE TO THE LEFT AND RIGHT TO SEE IF ANY FUEL WAS COLLECTING IN THE WINGS, AND AFTER REPEATING THE MANEUVERS SEVERAL TIMES I SAW NO FUEL LEAKING OUT OF THE WINGS RUNNING DOWN ON THE SIDE OF THE FUSELAGE. THEN I WONDERED ABOUT A BROKEN GAS LINE IN THE ENG COMPARTMENT, BUT THE ENG WAS RUNNING SMOOTH. BY THE FUEL GAUGES, I HAD NOW LOST SEVERAL GALLONS OF FUEL. THEN I FIGURED I MUST HAVE LOST A FUEL TANK CAP OR CAPS AND IF NOT LOST, LOOSE AND CAUSING FUEL TO BE SIPHONED FROM THE TANKS. I WAS STILL AT 3500' WITH THE XPONDER ON VFR FREQ 1200. I ATTEMPTED TO CONTACT APCH CTL ON FREQ 126.9, A FREQ FTW FSS HAD GIVEN ME FOR MONROE APCH FROM THE W. AFTER 3 OR 4 ATTEMPTS GOT NO CONTACT. HOWEVER, SOMETIMES CTLRS ARE BUSY AND CAN'T RESPOND PROMPTLY. I DECIDED I'D LAND AT RAYVILLE ARPT AND CHK THINGS OVER. I SET 1 NAV ON A TO HDG TO THE MONROE VOR AND THE OTHER ON A FROM HDG FROM THE MONROE VOR. I FIGURED IF I DROPPED THROUGH A HOLE AT THE 170 DEG R FROM, I'D BE CLOSE PAST THE TCA. HOWEVER, WHEN I DROPPED DOWN THROUGH A HOLE, I WAS S OF I-20 AND THE AUTOPLT BUT STILL IN THE TCA. I WAS AWARE I COULD STILL TRY TO DECLARE AN EMER, BUT I FELT I HAD MY PROB FIGURED OUT, AND A DECLARED EMER SHUTS EVERYTHING DOWN AROUND AN AUTOPLT, SO UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES THE THING TO DO WAS CLR THE TCA AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, NOT KNOWING IF I'D BE ABLE TO CONTACT APCH CTL ON ANOTHER TRY, AND PROCEED TO RAYVILLE ARPT. AFTER LNDG AT RAYVILLE ARPT AND CHKING THE ACFT OVER, I DID FIND THE RIGHT FUEL TANK CAP WAS LOOSE AND FLOPPING IN THE HOLE WHICH EXPLAINED THE LOSING FUEL BIT, ALSO DURING THE SHARP BANK MANEUVERS EVERY TIME I BANKED RIGHT I LOST A BUNCH OF FUEL. THE FUEL CAP WAS CHKED VERY CAREFULLY AND WORKED OK, BUT FOR SOME REASON HAD COME UNLOCKED AND FLOPPING IN THE HOLD OR TANK OPENING. MY LEAVING 3500' BTWN LAYERS W/O A DME WHEN I DID AND DROPPING OUT INTO THE TCA WAS POOR NAV ON MY PART AND I SHOULD NOT HAVE LEFT THE 3500' LEVEL W/O HAVING MADE CONTACT WITH APCH CTL. REFLECTING BACK, I SUPPOSE I SHOULD HAVE TRIED CONTACTING THE TWR AS WELL. POOR FLT PROCS, WORRYING WITH AN EMER SITUATION, WHICH COULD HAVE GOTTEN EXPLOSIVE BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD DIDN'T, AND BEING IN A TCA AT THAT ALT AND NO CONTACT WITH APCH CTLR BEING A DANGER TO MYSELF AND POSSIBLY OTHERS.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of August 2007 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.