NTSB Identification: MIA97LA093.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, March 04, 1997 in NASHVILLE, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/1997
Aircraft: Beech E35, registration: N3257C
Injuries: 1 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.
About 45 minutes after takeoff, while cruising at 8,500 feet, the pilot attempted to reposition the fuel selector to another tank, but the selector would not move. He elected to land as soon as possible to have the problem corrected. While on short final to land, the engine lost power. Attempts to restart the engine were unsuccessful. About 400 yards from the runway, the airplane's left wing struck a tree, and the airplane crashed in a swamp. An FAA investigator interviewed the pilot and asked him when he last moved the fuel selector valve. The pilot stated that he last moved it on 'the day before the flight and [it] operated normally at that time.' The fuel selector was 'not moved' before he departed for this flight. For this flight, he had used an 'abbreviated checklist.' Item 12 in the airplane's Flight Manual under the heading of starting procedures, stated; '...Activate the [fuel] selector valve several times by rotating the handle from tank to tank to ensure that the selector valve is free.' The abbreviated checklist that the pilot used did not contain item 12. Examination of the airplane's fuel selector revealed that the selector valve was stuck in the left fuel tank position due to rust from the fuel/drain spring. The rust had worked its way in between the valve seat, causing the valve to be 'stuck in place.' The left fuel tank had been breached during the accident sequence; the amount of fuel in tank at the time of the accident was not verified.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: a stuck (jammed) fuel selector valve, due to corrosion from a fuel drain spring, which resulted in fuel starvation, loss of engine power, a forced landing, and subsequent impact with trees. A factor relating to the accident was: the pilot's inadequate preflight while using an abbreviated checklist. Full narrative available
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