NTSB Identification: SEA06LA188.
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Accident occurred Saturday, September 23, 2006 in Trenton, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/26/2007
Aircraft: Ercoupe (Eng & Research Corp.) 415-C, registration: N3233H
Injuries: 2 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.
After takeoff, when the airplane was about 20 feet above the ground, the engine surged between full power and almost no power. The airplane began to descend and the pilot attempted to maneuver toward an open field. However, before reaching the field one of the airplane's wings collided with a tree and the airplane cartwheeled into the terrain. A post-accident engine run and inspection found no failures or anomalies, but it was later determined that the pilot had introduced water-contaminated auto fuel into the aircraft's fuel system immediately prior to the flight. Although the airplane had an approved Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) to allow it to be run on auto fuel, the pilot did not rock the wings or allow any time for any water introduced along with the auto fuel to flow through the system to the low point before draining fuel from the low point sump. The water contamination in the auto fuel made its way through the system during taxi for takeoff, and eventually reached the carburetor just after the airplane lifted off.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: A partial loss of engine power just after takeoff due to water contamination of the auto fuel added to the aircraft fuel system just prior to the flight. Factors include the pilot's inadequate preflight, no suitable landing area near the departure end of the runway, and trees along the flight path between the point where the aircraft lost power and the open field the pilot was trying to reach. Full narrative available
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