NTSB Identification: CHI04LA099.
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Accident occurred Sunday, April 04, 2004 in Big Rapids, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/01/2004
Aircraft: Beech C35, registration: N1922D
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.
The airplane sustained substantial damage during a forced landing after a loss of engine power. The pilot reported that the engine had just been overhauled and reinstalled on the airplane. After a successful ground run, a flight test was conducted. The pilot reported that he and an aircraft mechanic departed with the right fuel tank selected, climbed to 8,500 feet mean sea level, and circled the airport while checking the engine performance. The pilot reported the new fuel pump was putting out nearly 15 psi., whereas, the previous fuel pump had put out 9 psi. After an hour of flying, the pilot started his descent to land with the fuel selector still on the right fuel tank. While on final approach he added power, but the engine did not respond. He could not restore engine power before the airplane impacted the ground. An inspection of the airplane revealed there were 6 gallons of fuel in the left fuel tank, and 2.5 gallons of fuel in the right fuel tank. The wing fuel tanks each held 20 gallons of fuel with 17 gallons being useable fuel. The inspection revealed no airframe or engine anomalies. The pilot reported, "I think what happened was that the increased fuel pump pressure transferred the fuel from the right tank into the left tank at an accelerated rate, and I had no idea that I was getting that close to empty." The engine was removed from the airframe and an engine run was conducted. The engine started and ran. The pilot reported that he departed with 20 gallons of fuel in the right fuel tank, 5 gallons of fuel in the left fuel tank, and 10 gallons of fuel in the auxiliary tank. The Beechcraft Bonanza C35 Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) states: "Take-offs should be made using the left main tank and landings should be made using the main tank that is more nearly full. In no case should a take-off be made if the fuel indications are in the yellow band or, with less than 10 gallons of fuel in each main tank." The POH also states: "The pressure type carburetor returns about 3 gallons per hour of excess fuel to the left main cell regardless of the cell selected."
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The total loss of engine power due to the pilot's improper fuel management which led to fuel starvation. Full narrative available
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