NTSB Identification: ATL92LA140.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 47875.
Accident occurred Friday, July 17, 1992 in SHALLOTTE, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/30/1993
Aircraft: PIPER PA-30, registration: N160MJ
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 REFUELED THE DAY BEFORE THE FLIGHT AND THE FUEL TANKS WERE CHECKED AGAIN DURING THE PREFLIGHT INSPECTION. THE FLIGHT DEPARTED SOMERVILLE, NEW JERSEY, WITH 90 GALLONS OF FUEL ON BOARD. THE PILOT COMPUTED 16 GALLONS OF FUEL USAGE PER HOUR AND ABOUT 5 HOURS OF FUEL ENDURANCE. ABOUT 2+45 HOURS INTO THE FLIGHT THE PILOT SWITCHED FUEL TANKS AND IMMEDIATELY HE NOTICED A FASTER THAN NORMAL DROP ON THE FUEL QUANTITY GAUGE. THE PILOT INFORMED ATC AT MYRTLE BEACH OF HIS FUEL STATUS, AND ELECTED TO LAND AT MYRTLE BEACH FOR FUEL. BOTH ENGINES QUIT AND THE PILOT MADE A FORCED LANDING IN A FIELD ABOUT 3 MILES FROM THE AIRPORT. THERE WAS NO FUEL FOUND IN THE FUEL TANKS WHEN THE AIRPLANE WAS EXAMINED AT THE ACCIDENT SITE AND THERE WERE NO OBVIOUS SIGNS OF FUEL LEAKAGE FROM THE FUEL TANKS AT THE ACCIDENT SITE OR FUEL STAINS ON THE AIRPLANE. HOWEVER, WHILE CONDUCTING AIRFRAME REPAIRS, THE REPAIR FACILITY DISCOVERED A SUBSTANTIAL FUEL LEAK FROM THE LEFT MAIN FUEL CELL. CRACKS, TYPICAL OF AGING, WERE DISCOVERED IN THE INBOARD CORNERS OF THE FUEL BLADDER WHEN IT WAS REMOVED FROM THE AIRPLANE. THE BLADDER WAS MANUFACTURED BY PIPER IN 1980.

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

THE DETERIORATION OF THE LEFT MAIN FUEL BLADDER WHICH RESULTED IN THE PREMATURE EXHAUSTION OF THE FUEL SUPPLY AND THE LOSS OF ENGINE POWER. A FACTOR WAS SOFT TERRAIN.

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