NTSB Identification: LAX03FA031.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, November 13, 2002 in Pacoima, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/2005
Aircraft: Cessna T210L, registration: N76TL
Injuries: 4 Minor.
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.
On final approach for landing, the engine lost power and the pilot made a forced landing on a city street. The airplane struck trees, the ground, and a stopped car before coming to rest impaled on a pole at a corner auto sales lot. According to the owner, the airplane had about 20 gallons of fuel in each tank when he dropped off the airplane at the maintenance shop on October 19, 2002, for the 50-hour inspection, and historical experience showed the engine consumed 17.3 gallons per hour in cruise. The mechanic/pilot was conducting a flight test of the autopilot and turbocharger systems following a 50-hour inspection. He indicated that there was 40 gallons of fuel onboard the airplane prior to takeoff, and the test flight lasted about 45 minutes. He further reported that the left fuel tank gage read 1/4 tank, and the right fuel tank gage read between 1/4 and 1/2 tank. When the flight reached the cruise altitude of 16,000 feet, the pilot switched the fuel tank selector, but did not recall which tank he selected. About 30 minutes into the flight, the pilot told the passenger that they were low on fuel, but that it would be okay. The passenger noted that both fuel gages read less than 1/4 tank each at that time. The pilot tested the autopilot for 8 minutes and then returned to the airport for landing. Prior to entering the airport environment, the pilot switched the fuel selector to the fullest tank, which he believed was the right fuel tank. The first approach was too high and the pilot requested and received clearance to conduct a go-around in order to lose altitude. During the second approach, the engine quit. First responders to the accident site reported seeing fuel leaking from the engine area, and then a fire started. The airplane sustained fire damage to the cabin and aft engine areas, as well as both wings. The fuel selector was selected to the right fuel tank. A warning in the fuel systems description section of the manufacturer's approved flight manual states that with 1/4 full or less of fuel in the fuel tanks, prolonged uncoordinated flight (slips or skids) can cause the fuel tank outlets to become uncovered causing fuel starvation and engine stoppage. A post-accident airframe and engine inspection was conducted with no mechanical anomalies noted.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: a loss of engine power due the inadvertent unporting of the fuel pickup tube, which resulted in fuel starvation during the go-around. The pilot's preflight and in-flight decisions regarding fuel quantity and fuel system management are also causal.
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