NTSB Identification: ERA11LA139
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, February 10, 2011 in Lincoln Park, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/23/2012
Aircraft: CESSNA 182P, registration: N25HD
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 was descending on the downwind leg of the landing pattern. As the pilot adjusted power to arrest the descent, the engine did not respond. The engine produced two short bursts of power when the pilot used the fuel primer; however, the engine would not continue running. The pilot noted that he was not going to reach the runway as he turned into the final leg of the landing pattern and elected to impact a tree to avoid hitting a building. A postaccident examination of the wreckage did not reveal any mechanical discrepancies that would have prevented normal operation of the airplane or its systems. The engine started, accelerated, and produced rated horsepower when tested.

The postaccident examination found ice and evidence of water in the gascolator fuel bowl shortly after the accident. A recovered engine digital monitor recorded the accident flight and captured the last 25 seconds. The monitor indicated that the fuel flow dropped to zero and the exhaust gas temperature on all cylinders dropped sharply, consistent with ignition stopping abruptly, likely due to the introduction of water into the fuel system.

The engine compartment was heated before the flight, the temperature was minus 5 degrees Celsius at the time of the preflight, and no water was noted when the gascolator was drained before the flight. The accident flight was flown on the left wing fuel tank. The pilot stated that, during the preflight, he had difficulty sumping the left wing fuel tank and noted a few drops of water when the sump valve did function; he did not resump the tank. An Airworthiness Directive (AD) that was established to prevent power loss or engine stoppage due to water contamination had been performed on the airplane. The AD stated that, after rocking the wings, the pilot should "Drain and catch the contents of the fuel gascolator, wing, and (if equipped) reservoir tank sumps and check for water contamination. If water is found...repeat...until no additional water is detected, or drain the entire airplane fuel system." About a week before the accident flight, the airplane was washed inside a hangar and afterward moved to the ramp; it had not been flown since the wash.

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

The pilot’s inadequate preflight inspection (removal of water contamination from the fuel system), which resulted in a total loss of engine power.

Full narrative available

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