NTSB Identification: LAX05LA208.
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Accident occurred Friday, June 17, 2005 in Pasadena, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/30/2007
Aircraft: Beech C35, registration: N5813C
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 collided with an automobile during a forced landing on a freeway following a loss of engine power during a night cross-country flight. The student pilot had just purchased the airplane and she and the flight instructor were bringing it back to the student pilot's home airport. The airplane was in a cruise descent when the engine started to lose power. The student pilot turned on the electric fuel pump, but it had no effect. She transferred control of the airplane to the flight instructor, and began to operate the hand pump. The engine speed increased as she pumped, but fell off when she stopped. The instructor had her switch to all of the fuel tanks but this had no effect on resolving the problem. The engine only produced power while she operated the hand pump, and the engine only operated at a low rpm. The airplane had lost altitude, and was down to about 1,000 to 2,000 feet over a freeway. She couldn't keep pumping the hand pump due to physical fatigue. They decided to land on the freeway and turned on to final about 300 to 400 feet. About 10 to 15 feet agl, they flashed the landing light to warn drivers on the freeway. Within 2 to 3 feet of landing, she noticed a car to the left of the airplane. The left wing hit the bottom part of the car, and the airplane cartwheeled to inverted. After exiting the airplane, she noted that fuel was leaking from both wings. The student pilot stated that she used the electric fuel pump as a primer to start to start the airplane at the last fuel stop and the fuel pressure went to 9 psi. The fuel pump was not used again until the accident. According to first responders, an 8-foot-diameter puddle of fuel was under the airplane. No preimpact anomalies were found during an examination of the engine that would have precluded normal operation. The engine driven fuel pump functioned when operated by an electric drill. The electric fuel boost pump did not rotate. Examination of the pump found that the roll pin inside the pump had sheared into two pieces, and one piece had lodged in the vanes, which prevented them from rotating. The technician that disassembled the pump remarked that this usually occurred when the pump had been run while dry. The underlying reason for the apparent failure of the engine driven pump and other fuel system components to allow sufficient fuel to the carburetor could not be determined.

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

a fuel starvation induced loss of engine power due a failure of the electric fuel pump. A factor in the accident was the dark night lighting conditions.

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