|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1801 To 2400|
|Locale Reference||atc facility : yrk|
|Altitude||msl bound lower : 8000|
msl bound upper : 8000
|Operator||general aviation : personal|
|Make Model Name||PA-32 Cherokee Six/Lance/Saratoga|
|Flight Phase||cruise other|
|Route In Use||enroute airway : zob|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : commercial|
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 35|
flight time total : 687
flight time type : 77
|Affiliation||government : faa|
|Function||controller : radar|
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : critical|
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||controller : provided flight assist|
We departed charlottesville, va, with full fuel in all tanks at approximately XA00Z en route for blue ash airport (isz) cincinnati, oh. The flight was uneventful until XC00Z. While in cruise at 8000 ft, I experienced a loss of engine power that I thought was caused by carburetor icing. Following recommended emergency procedures, I switched to my alternate main fuel tank, applied carburetor heat, and auxiliary boost pump, and the engine manifold pressure was restored. I contacted charleston ATC to explain the loss of 600 ft of altitude. ATC asked whether I needed to land immediately. Thinking that the problem was eliminated, I declined to divert. However, the problem returned 10 mins later and the emergency procedures failed to restore power. I asked charleston ATC to vector me to the nearest airport. While configured for maximum glide, I noted that the manifold pressure had dropped to 13 inches and that we were slowly losing altitude. The nearest airport, ashland, ky (dmu), was 7 mi away across the ohio river. Although our fuel usage was normal, I concluded that fuel starvation was the likely cause of the power loss. I then switched to 1 of 2 full tip tanks and the engine revived almost immediately. I continued to follow the vectors issued by ATC, told the controller that I had the runway in sight and was on short final for runway 10. I examined both main fuel tanks and found that they were totally dry. At departure, I had calculated that I had 5 hours of fuel on board, and at the time of the landing at ashland, I should have had 2 1/2 hours remaining. The apparent cause of the fuel shortage was a leak in the main sump that drained fuel from the main tanks as I switched between them each hour. We concluded that the main sump test port might have been stuck in the 'open' position, causing the inadvertent dumping of fuel. Personnel from the FBO assisted me in tracing possible causes for the leak. We filled the tanks and looked for physical signs of leakage at the tanks and at the engine fuel pump area.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: A PA32 IN CRUISE AT 8000 FT DIVERTED DUE TO ENG FAILURE CAUSED BY A LEAKING MAIN TANK SUMP DRAIN RESULTING IN FUEL STARVATION.
Narrative: WE DEPARTED CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, WITH FULL FUEL IN ALL TANKS AT APPROX XA00Z ENRTE FOR BLUE ASH ARPT (ISZ) CINCINNATI, OH. THE FLT WAS UNEVENTFUL UNTIL XC00Z. WHILE IN CRUISE AT 8000 FT, I EXPERIENCED A LOSS OF ENG PWR THAT I THOUGHT WAS CAUSED BY CARB ICING. FOLLOWING RECOMMENDED EMER PROCS, I SWITCHED TO MY ALTERNATE MAIN FUEL TANK, APPLIED CARB HEAT, AND AUX BOOST PUMP, AND THE ENG MANIFOLD PRESSURE WAS RESTORED. I CONTACTED CHARLESTON ATC TO EXPLAIN THE LOSS OF 600 FT OF ALT. ATC ASKED WHETHER I NEEDED TO LAND IMMEDIATELY. THINKING THAT THE PROB WAS ELIMINATED, I DECLINED TO DIVERT. HOWEVER, THE PROB RETURNED 10 MINS LATER AND THE EMER PROCS FAILED TO RESTORE PWR. I ASKED CHARLESTON ATC TO VECTOR ME TO THE NEAREST ARPT. WHILE CONFIGURED FOR MAX GLIDE, I NOTED THAT THE MANIFOLD PRESSURE HAD DROPPED TO 13 INCHES AND THAT WE WERE SLOWLY LOSING ALT. THE NEAREST ARPT, ASHLAND, KY (DMU), WAS 7 MI AWAY ACROSS THE OHIO RIVER. ALTHOUGH OUR FUEL USAGE WAS NORMAL, I CONCLUDED THAT FUEL STARVATION WAS THE LIKELY CAUSE OF THE PWR LOSS. I THEN SWITCHED TO 1 OF 2 FULL TIP TANKS AND THE ENG REVIVED ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. I CONTINUED TO FOLLOW THE VECTORS ISSUED BY ATC, TOLD THE CTLR THAT I HAD THE RWY IN SIGHT AND WAS ON SHORT FINAL FOR RWY 10. I EXAMINED BOTH MAIN FUEL TANKS AND FOUND THAT THEY WERE TOTALLY DRY. AT DEP, I HAD CALCULATED THAT I HAD 5 HRS OF FUEL ON BOARD, AND AT THE TIME OF THE LNDG AT ASHLAND, I SHOULD HAVE HAD 2 1/2 HRS REMAINING. THE APPARENT CAUSE OF THE FUEL SHORTAGE WAS A LEAK IN THE MAIN SUMP THAT DRAINED FUEL FROM THE MAIN TANKS AS I SWITCHED BTWN THEM EACH HR. WE CONCLUDED THAT THE MAIN SUMP TEST PORT MIGHT HAVE BEEN STUCK IN THE 'OPEN' POS, CAUSING THE INADVERTENT DUMPING OF FUEL. PERSONNEL FROM THE FBO ASSISTED ME IN TRACING POSSIBLE CAUSES FOR THE LEAK. WE FILLED THE TANKS AND LOOKED FOR PHYSICAL SIGNS OF LEAKAGE AT THE TANKS AND AT THE ENG FUEL PUMP AREA.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of July 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.