|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1201 To 1800|
|Locale Reference||airport : sua|
|Altitude||agl bound lower : 0|
agl bound upper : 200
|Controlling Facilities||tower : sua|
|Operator||general aviation : corporate|
|Make Model Name||Small Aircraft, High Wing, 1 Eng, Retractable Gear|
|Flight Phase||descent : approach|
|Route In Use||approach : circling|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : commercial|
pilot : cfi
pilot : instrument
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 158|
flight time total : 1150
flight time type : 53
|Anomaly||aircraft equipment problem : critical|
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||flight crew : declared emergency|
none taken : unable
|Consequence||faa : investigated|
|Air Traffic Incident||other|
Enclosed you will find a copy of the statement I have mailed to the FAA concerning the events of 2/88. The damage sustained by the aircraft consisted of bent nose cowling, separated nose gear, and bent propeller tips (not considered substantial damage) due to the forced landing. At the present time I still do not know exactly why the engine failed. My main purpose in writing this report is to highlight a problem that has concerned me. That problem is accurately judging the amount of fuel remaining in an aircraft's fuel tanks. As you can see in my statement, during my banner towing operations, I relied on fuel burn and time aloft to judge fuel remaining. As they are on most light, GA aircraft, the fuel gauges on this aircraft are very unreliable. It is virtually impossible to accurately know how much fuel has been used. The obvious solution to this problem would be insisting on installation of high quality, accurate fuel gauges in all aircraft. Another problem that I feel may have possibly been a factor in my situation is the installation of bladder type fuel tanks, especially in older aircraft. The potential for these cells to develop wrinkles, or to sag/shrink, could reduce the amount of usable fuel available. A pilot preparing for a flight has only his airplane flight manual to guide him as to how much fuel is available for his operation. Statement of events: I did a normal preflight inspection. This included visually checking both wing tanks and draining fuel from the 2 wing tank quick drains and fuel selector quick drain. My inspection revealed that both tanks were topped off and the fuel showed no signs of water or sediment. The airplane flight manual in the aircraft shows this aircraft carrying 65 gals total fuel of which 55 gals is usable. It also stated that 7 gals of the 10 gals unusable fuel is available in level flight. To be safe, I always considered just the 55 gals as usable. I was to judge fuel quantity by time and fuel burn with maximum flight time to be 4 hours with the required 30 mins reserve. Prior to my last flight, I pulled 3 banners: the first one for .5 hours, the next 2 for 1.1 hours each (total: 2.7 hours). After dropping each banner, I landed and shut down the aircraft to wait for the ground crew to bring me another hook. My last tow was to last an hour. I knew if I flew a 1/2 hour south, then the trip home should be shorter due to the tailwind, keeping my reserve on the safe side. The controller suggested I enter left traffic for runway 29 after the drop, which I agreed with. I dropped the banner and climbed straight ahead to 600'. I made a left turn and entered left downwind for runway 29 continuing my climb. I leveled off at 800' due to low clouds over the airport. I completed the written prelndg checks, ie seat belt on, fuel both, mixture rich, propeller high, carburetor heat on. At about 400', the engine sounded like a cylinder was misfiring. This lasted only a couple of seconds. At about 200', the engine felt like it quit altogether. As I started sinking, I checked mixture rich and carburetor heat out and pumped the throttle twice with no effect. There was a golf course below me and I knew I would not make the clear zone to the runway. I did my best to guide the airplane between a group of palms on the left and a pine tree on the right. The aircraft touched done in what felt like a level attitude. At that point I felt relieved and that the airplane would be alright. As I lost elevator effectiveness, I lowered the nose and realized the nose gear had collapsed. The aircraft stopped in a nose down attitude. Callback conversation with reporter revealed the following: FAA investigated the incident and did check and were able to drain fuel out of the aircraft. Stated they drained so much, but he does not know how much was actually remaining. Probably would have been no damage from the off airport landing, but a power line had just been buried across his landing path and the soft dirt in the filled in trench caught the nose wheel causing the damage. Since day of incident and a letter saying FAA was investigating the incident and submitting his statement, he has heard nothing more from FAA.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: GA SMA ENGINE FAILURE ON FINAL FORCED SHORT OF ARPT.
Narrative: ENCLOSED YOU WILL FIND A COPY OF THE STATEMENT I HAVE MAILED TO THE FAA CONCERNING THE EVENTS OF 2/88. THE DAMAGE SUSTAINED BY THE ACFT CONSISTED OF BENT NOSE COWLING, SEPARATED NOSE GEAR, AND BENT PROP TIPS (NOT CONSIDERED SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE) DUE TO THE FORCED LNDG. AT THE PRESENT TIME I STILL DO NOT KNOW EXACTLY WHY THE ENG FAILED. MY MAIN PURPOSE IN WRITING THIS RPT IS TO HIGHLIGHT A PROB THAT HAS CONCERNED ME. THAT PROB IS ACCURATELY JUDGING THE AMOUNT OF FUEL REMAINING IN AN ACFT'S FUEL TANKS. AS YOU CAN SEE IN MY STATEMENT, DURING MY BANNER TOWING OPS, I RELIED ON FUEL BURN AND TIME ALOFT TO JUDGE FUEL REMAINING. AS THEY ARE ON MOST LIGHT, GA ACFT, THE FUEL GAUGES ON THIS ACFT ARE VERY UNRELIABLE. IT IS VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO ACCURATELY KNOW HOW MUCH FUEL HAS BEEN USED. THE OBVIOUS SOLUTION TO THIS PROB WOULD BE INSISTING ON INSTALLATION OF HIGH QUALITY, ACCURATE FUEL GAUGES IN ALL ACFT. ANOTHER PROB THAT I FEEL MAY HAVE POSSIBLY BEEN A FACTOR IN MY SITUATION IS THE INSTALLATION OF BLADDER TYPE FUEL TANKS, ESPECIALLY IN OLDER ACFT. THE POTENTIAL FOR THESE CELLS TO DEVELOP WRINKLES, OR TO SAG/SHRINK, COULD REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF USABLE FUEL AVAILABLE. A PLT PREPARING FOR A FLT HAS ONLY HIS AIRPLANE FLT MANUAL TO GUIDE HIM AS TO HOW MUCH FUEL IS AVAILABLE FOR HIS OPERATION. STATEMENT OF EVENTS: I DID A NORMAL PREFLT INSPECTION. THIS INCLUDED VISUALLY CHKING BOTH WING TANKS AND DRAINING FUEL FROM THE 2 WING TANK QUICK DRAINS AND FUEL SELECTOR QUICK DRAIN. MY INSPECTION REVEALED THAT BOTH TANKS WERE TOPPED OFF AND THE FUEL SHOWED NO SIGNS OF WATER OR SEDIMENT. THE AIRPLANE FLT MANUAL IN THE ACFT SHOWS THIS ACFT CARRYING 65 GALS TOTAL FUEL OF WHICH 55 GALS IS USABLE. IT ALSO STATED THAT 7 GALS OF THE 10 GALS UNUSABLE FUEL IS AVAILABLE IN LEVEL FLT. TO BE SAFE, I ALWAYS CONSIDERED JUST THE 55 GALS AS USABLE. I WAS TO JUDGE FUEL QUANTITY BY TIME AND FUEL BURN WITH MAX FLT TIME TO BE 4 HRS WITH THE REQUIRED 30 MINS RESERVE. PRIOR TO MY LAST FLT, I PULLED 3 BANNERS: THE FIRST ONE FOR .5 HRS, THE NEXT 2 FOR 1.1 HRS EACH (TOTAL: 2.7 HRS). AFTER DROPPING EACH BANNER, I LANDED AND SHUT DOWN THE ACFT TO WAIT FOR THE GND CREW TO BRING ME ANOTHER HOOK. MY LAST TOW WAS TO LAST AN HOUR. I KNEW IF I FLEW A 1/2 HR S, THEN THE TRIP HOME SHOULD BE SHORTER DUE TO THE TAILWIND, KEEPING MY RESERVE ON THE SAFE SIDE. THE CTLR SUGGESTED I ENTER LEFT TFC FOR RWY 29 AFTER THE DROP, WHICH I AGREED WITH. I DROPPED THE BANNER AND CLBED STRAIGHT AHEAD TO 600'. I MADE A LEFT TURN AND ENTERED LEFT DOWNWIND FOR RWY 29 CONTINUING MY CLB. I LEVELED OFF AT 800' DUE TO LOW CLOUDS OVER THE ARPT. I COMPLETED THE WRITTEN PRELNDG CHKS, IE SEAT BELT ON, FUEL BOTH, MIXTURE RICH, PROP HIGH, CARB HEAT ON. AT ABOUT 400', THE ENG SOUNDED LIKE A CYLINDER WAS MISFIRING. THIS LASTED ONLY A COUPLE OF SECS. AT ABOUT 200', THE ENG FELT LIKE IT QUIT ALTOGETHER. AS I STARTED SINKING, I CHKED MIXTURE RICH AND CARB HEAT OUT AND PUMPED THE THROTTLE TWICE WITH NO EFFECT. THERE WAS A GOLF COURSE BELOW ME AND I KNEW I WOULD NOT MAKE THE CLR ZONE TO THE RWY. I DID MY BEST TO GUIDE THE AIRPLANE BTWN A GROUP OF PALMS ON THE LEFT AND A PINE TREE ON THE RIGHT. THE ACFT TOUCHED DONE IN WHAT FELT LIKE A LEVEL ATTITUDE. AT THAT POINT I FELT RELIEVED AND THAT THE AIRPLANE WOULD BE ALRIGHT. AS I LOST ELEVATOR EFFECTIVENESS, I LOWERED THE NOSE AND REALIZED THE NOSE GEAR HAD COLLAPSED. THE ACFT STOPPED IN A NOSE DOWN ATTITUDE. CALLBACK CONVERSATION WITH RPTR REVEALED THE FOLLOWING: FAA INVESTIGATED THE INCIDENT AND DID CHK AND WERE ABLE TO DRAIN FUEL OUT OF THE ACFT. STATED THEY DRAINED SO MUCH, BUT HE DOES NOT KNOW HOW MUCH WAS ACTUALLY REMAINING. PROBABLY WOULD HAVE BEEN NO DAMAGE FROM THE OFF ARPT LNDG, BUT A PWR LINE HAD JUST BEEN BURIED ACROSS HIS LNDG PATH AND THE SOFT DIRT IN THE FILLED IN TRENCH CAUGHT THE NOSE WHEEL CAUSING THE DAMAGE. SINCE DAY OF INCIDENT AND A LETTER SAYING FAA WAS INVESTIGATING THE INCIDENT AND SUBMITTING HIS STATEMENT, HE HAS HEARD NOTHING MORE FROM FAA.
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.