NTSB Identification: LAX05LA168.
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Accident occurred Saturday, May 14, 2005 in Seligman, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA-23-250, registration: N30YC
Injuries: 3 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 left engine lost power during cruise, and the pilot made a forced landing in an open field with rough uneven terrain. About 45 minutes into the flight, the left engine started to sputter. The pilot attempted to restart the engine. When the engine did not restart, he secured it and then flew towards an alternate airport. Prior to reaching the airport, he attempted to lower the landing gear by placing the landing gear handle in the DOWN position. The landing gear did not extend, so he tried to lower the landing gear via the primary emergency landing gear system (hand pump). When that did not work, he activated the secondary emergency extension system (CO2 blow down tank) by pulling the emergency gear extension ring. The CO2 tank discharged; however, only the right main landing gear extended. The pilot said that with the drag from the partially extended gear they were not going to make the airport, and he made a forced landing in a rough open field. The pilot reported that he believed he had 30 gallons of fuel in each fuel tank. Recovery personnel indicated that the fuel cells had not been breached during the accident, the fuel lines were intact, and they did not see any fuel on the ground surrounding the airplane. They recovered 15 gallons of fuel from right outboard fuel tank, and 15 gallons of fuel from the right inboard fuel tank. Thirty gallons of fuel were drained from the left wing outboard fuel tank. No fuel was found in the left wing inboard fuel tank. The manufacturer's owner's manual for the airplane indicates that if the left engine fails the hydraulic pump will not function (the single system pump is on the left engine), and the emergency landing gear extension system has to be used. The pilot also has to place the landing gear lever in the DOWN position, fully extend the hand pump handle, and then pump the emergency gear handle up and down 30-40 strokes in order to get the landing gear to lower. The pilot can also utilize the CO2 tank for emergency landing gear extension; however, the landing gear selector has to be in the DOWN position for the gas to be correctly ported to the down side of the hydraulic actuators. The airframe, left engine, and landing gear were inspected. The fuel injector manifold was removed and disassembled, with no fuel observed. No fuel was found in the fuel lines from the left wing to the left engine. No discrepancies were found with the left engine's internal mechanical continuity. Investigators noted that the emergency gear handle was pulled out about 2 inches and not fully extended, and the emergency gear extender ring for the CO2 system appeared to be pulled out. The hydraulic system lines were intact. Clean hydraulic fluid was found in the power pack and the hydraulic system filter was clean.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the pilot's fuel system mismanagement that led to a fuel starvation induced loss of power in the left engine. Also causal was the pilot's improper use of the emergency landing gear extension system. Full narrative available
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