NTSB Identification: IAD99LA026.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, January 05, 1999 in FAIRFIELD, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/18/2001
Aircraft: Piper PA-30, registration: N3TH
Injuries: 2 Serious,1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane was in cruise flight at 6,000 feet in below zero temperatures when the right engine stopped producing power. The pilot entered a left-hand orbit and attempted an engine restart. After several orbits, the left engine stopped producing power. The pilot completed a forced landing to a field that destroyed the airplane. Examination of the wreckage revealed evidence of fuel at the scene with the left fuel selector in the 'Auxiliary' position and the right selector in the 'Main' position. The right fuel selector filter element bowl could not be freed after removal of the mount screws. The bowl was pried free and the filter element screens were found completely occluded with ice. An FAA Airworthiness Directive (AD), 'To eliminate water contamination of the aircraft fuel supply', that mandated compliance every 50 hours of operation, had not been complied with in 16 calendar months and 234 hours of operation. The Owner's Handbook stated auxiliary fuel and tip tank fuel should be used in level flight only, and that the single engine service ceiling was approximately 5,800 feet, at maximum gross weight. Both engines started and ran to rated power in a test cell.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The owner's failure to comply with the Airworthiness Directive and the subsequent fuel system filter blockage by ice leading to fuel starvation and power loss of the right engine. Additionally, the pilot's improper selection of the left auxiliary fuel tank position and the subsequent fuel starvation and power loss of the left engine. Contributing factors were low temperature (below freezing) conditions and the pilot's failure to follow procedures delineated in the Owner's Handbook.

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