NTSB Identification: WPR12LA201
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 12, 2012 in Pope Valley, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/13/2014
Aircraft: BEECH 3NM, registration: N9540
Injuries: 3 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.

According to the owner-pilot, the engine start and run-up were normal. Shortly after liftoff, when the airplane had reached an altitude of about 50 feet above the runway, the right engine lost power. Because the airspeed was still well below the minimum single-engine control speed and the landing gear had not yet been retracted, the pilot continued straight ahead and landed the airplane in a vineyard just beyond the end of the runway. The airplane’s forward motion was stopped by multiple rows of metal-wire trellises oriented perpendicular to the direction of travel, and then the airplane nosed over onto its back.

Lack of certain equipment and other resources prevented complete postaccident examination or testing of the airframe and engine, but the examination did reveal three anomalies. About 5 drops of water were found in the right main fuel tank, even though the pilot reported that he did not detect any water from any tanks during his preflight inspection and that the airplane had been in a hangar since the accident. It was possible that the engine ingested and was affected by some undetected water that migrated to a fuel inlet after the tail came up on the takeoff roll. The fuel suction crossfeed valve handle was found rotated about 70 degrees (of 90 degrees full travel) toward its OFF position, which is the takeoff setting. Because the valve is located under the copilot seat, it is more likely that the valve was not fully rotated before the takeoff rather than dislodged during or after the accident. According to a manufacturer’s representative, an open crossfeed valve could interfere with fuel flow to the engines. However, the investigation was unable to positively determine whether the valve position did interfere with normal engine operation. Finally, the right engine fuel pump was not a unit specified by the airplane manufacturer. The investigation was unable to determine when that pump was installed or whether it had any significant performance differences from the manufacturer-specified units. However, based on the observed condition of the pump and the history of the airplane, the airplane had likely been operated uneventfully with that fuel pump for many years.

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

A loss of power in one engine during takeoff, which resulted in a forced landing in a vineyard. The reason for the loss of engine power could not be determined from the available evidence.

Full narrative available

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