NTSB Identification: LAX92FA094.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 46614.
Accident occurred Saturday, January 18, 1992 in SANTA MONICA, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/26/1993
Aircraft: MOONEY M-20-C, registration: N6481U
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

THE 107 HR PVT PLT & PSGR DEPD THE ARPT FOR AN UNKNOWN DESTN. THE RECENTLY PURCHASED ACFT HADN'T FLOWN FOR SVRL MONTHS. THE ACFT HAD BEEN PARKED OUTSIDE & 5.5' OF RAIN HAD FALLEN IN THE LAST 41 DAYS. THE ACFT WAS REFUELED IMMEDIATELY BFR DEPG & THE FUELER SAID THE PLT SAT INSIDE THE ACFT DRG REFUELING, READING A MAP. THE REFUELER DIDN'T SEE THE PLT MAKE A PREFLT INSPN. HE ALSO NOTED THE ACFT WAS VERY DIRTY. THE FUEL FILLER CAPS WERE OF THE THERMOS CAP STYLE, RECESSED INTO WELLS IN THE WING SFC. FAA SDR'S NOTED 20 INSTANCES OF WATER CONTAMINATION OF FUEL IN THIS MODEL ACFT DRG A PERIOD FROM 1/1/86 TO 9/10/92. OF THE 20 RPRTD INSTANCES, 4 WERE ASSOCIATED WITH LEAKAGE THRU LOOSE FUEL CAPS. DRG THE TAKEOFF & INITIAL CLIMB, THE PLT STATED TO THE TWR THAT 'MY ENGINE KEEPS CUTTING IN AND OUT.' HE WAS CLRD TO LND ON ANY RWY. THE PLT COMPLETED A 180 DEG TURN BACK TWD THE RWY & THE ACFT HIT A PWR POLE OFF THE END & BELOW THE RWY SFC. THE ACFT WAS CONSUMED BY A POST-CRASH FIRE. NO MECH MALFUNCTION/FAILURE WAS FND. SUNSET WAS AT 1712 PST.

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

FUEL CONTAMINATION BY WATER DUE TO THE; 1) FAILURE OF THE FUEL CAPS TO PROPERLY SEAL AGAINST WATER INGESTION, 2) THE PILOTS FAILURE TO ADEQUATELY PERFORM A PREFLIGHT INSPECTION OF THE AIRCRAFT SUFFICIENT TO DETECT THE PRESENCE OF WATER IN THE FUEL TANKS. FACTORS IN THE ACCIDENT WERE THE INADEQUATE FUEL CAP/WELL DESIGN BY THE MANUFACTURER AND THE PILOTS REDUCED ABILITY TO VISUALLY SEE AND AVOID THE POWER POLE DUE TO THE PREVAILING LIGHT CONDITIONS.

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