NTSB Identification: ERA12LA268
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, April 03, 2012 in Caribbean Sea, Unknown
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/03/2014
Aircraft: HAWKER BEECHCRAFT C90GTX, registration: N8116L
Injuries: 2 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 pilot and pilot-rated passenger had taken delivery of the newly manufactured airplane at the manufacturer's facility in Wichita, Kansas the day before the accident. They then flew it to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after making a stop in Marianna, Florida, for fuel. Upon arriving in Fort Lauderdale, the pilots gave their fuel request to the customer service agent at the fixed base operator (FBO), advising them that they would be departing the following morning. On the morning of the accident, the pilot filed a flight plan while the pilot-rated passenger conducted the airplane preflight. He did not remove the fuel caps and look in both wing tank fuel filler openings. After filing the flight plan, the pilot walked around the airplane without performing a preflight or looking in the wing tank fuel filler openings. After takeoff, the pilots climbed the airplane to a cruising altitude of 27,000 feet. The flight was uneventful until the pilots observed that the fuel quantity indicators were reading lower than anticipated. Sometime later, both engine lost power; the pilots reported that they were having engine problems and declared an emergency. They then ditched the airplane in the Caribbean Sea, were uninjured, and were later rescued.

The pilot stated that, based on the fueling ticket, he concluded that the airplane had been refueled with 134 gallons of fuel before departure, which would have been sufficient for the airplane to reach their destination. Once in flight, he realized that the fuel quantity indicators were reading lower than anticipated; he looked at the fuel ticket again to confirm that 134 gallons of fuel had been delivered. However, review of the fueling process revealed that after arrival in Fort Lauderdale, the pilot had requested that the FBO personnel top off the nacelle tanks. This was accomplished, but only 25 gallons of fuel was needed to comply with the request, and this amount was accurately listed on the fuel ticket. Further review revealed that the number 134, which the pilot thought was the amount of fuel uploaded, was in actuality the employee number of the fueler.

Review of the airplane's Pilot's Operating Handbook and Airplane Flight Manual (POH/AFM) revealed that this fuel discrepancy should have been caught even before the flight departed, as the POH/AFM checklists for operating the airplane required the pilots to confirm the fuel quantity during preflight, before engine starting, and before takeoff. The fuel discrepancy could also have been detected once airborne if the fuel quantity switch on the fuel control panel had been in the "TOTAL" position during flight, which would have given an indication of the total amount of fuel onboard. However, the pilot advised that the fuel quantity switch was in the "NACELLE" position during the flight and about every 20 minutes he would check the "wing" (total) quantity. This procedure did not conform with the guidance contained in the POH/AFM which advised that the "NACELLE" position was to be used to verify nacelle fuel quantity during operations with the "NO FUEL XFR" annunciator illuminated.

Additionally, the accident could have been avoided 2 hours into the flight, while over the island of Hispaniola, when the pilot noticed that he had an approximate 40-knot tailwind but the amount of fuel onboard was less than usual after 2 hours of flying. However, the pilot decided to continue despite his proximity to airports on Hispaniola that were suitable for diversion. By the time he began to be concerned about a possible fuel leak or indication failure, he was once again over open water. As the situation worsened, the pilot finally decided to divert to Aruba, but by then it was too late, and he was forced to ditch the airplane.

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

A complete loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot's failure to verify that sufficient fuel was onboard prior to flight. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's misreading of the fuel ticket and his improper operation of the fuel control panel , and his delay in recognizing the fuel shortage.

Full narrative available

Index for Apr2012 | Index of months