NTSB Identification: ANC03LA032.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, March 19, 2003 in CHICKALOON, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/25/2003
Aircraft: Rockwell 500-S, registration: N903AK
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.

Both engines of the twin-engine airplane were removed for overhaul and reinstalled by contracted maintenance personnel. The engines were then ground-run to assess their performance, and to check for any leaks. No leaks were found. An annual inspection was subseqently completed by the operator's maintenance personnel, and the airplane was released for a maintenance test flight. The preflight, engine runup, and the takeoff engine power settings were normal. Another pilot observed the takeoff of the accident airplane, and noticed what appeared to be a slight vapor trail coming from the left engine. He did not report his observations to the pilot. The accident flight was intended to check the turbocharging system by climbing to 12,000 feet. At 8,000 feet, the electrical system experienced a spike, but then returned to normal. As the airplane approached 11,000 feet, the left engine's fuel pressure began to fluctuate. The manifold pressure and rpm began to decrease. The pilot feathered the propeller, and shut-off the engine's fuel/hydraulic valve. The passenger then noticed flames coming from the left engine. The pilot began an emergency descent, and landed on a gravel bar. During the landing roll, the airplane received extensive damage to the fuselage and landing gear. The pilot and passenger exited the airplane and extinguished the flames from the left engine with a hand-held fire extinquisher. A trail of oil was visible on the ground along the airplane's approach path to the accident scene. A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed extensive fire damage, sooting, and oil streaking coming from the left engine nacelle. Inspection of the left engine revealed that the fuel line, from the left wing tank to the engine driven fuel pump, was not connected. The interior threads of the fuel line fitting, and the exterior threads of the fuel pump nipple had extensive sooting.

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

The improper installation of an engine fuel line fitting by contracted maintenance personnel resulting in an in-flight engine fire. Contributing factors in the accident were an inadequate annual inspection by company maintenance personnel, and the lack of suitable terrain for a forced landing.

Full narrative available

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