FTW99LA091
FTW99LA091

On March 4, 1999, approximately 1610 central standard time, a Cessna 172D airplane, N2645U, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Homer, Louisiana. The private pilot, who was the owner and operator of the airplane, and his passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight, for which a VFR flight plan was filed. The cross-country flight originated from the Dickson Municipal Airport, Dickson, Tennessee, at 1215.

According to the 651-hour pilot, the airplane was executing an approach to runway 12 at Homer Municipal Airport. The pilot stated that he performed the pre-landing checklist on the downwind leg, which included applying carburetor heat. The airplane was on the base leg when he "cleared the engine" as he maneuvered the airplane onto final approach. The pilot stated that the airplane encountered "light turbulence" while on final approach. The airplane was approximately 1,000 feet from the runway and 500 feet agl when the pilot advanced the throttle, and the engine lost power. The pilot initiated a forced landing, and subsequently, the airplane contacted pine trees and the ground. The airplane came to rest upright, 32 feet short of the approach end of runway 12. The pilot stated that he attributed the loss of engine power to "unporting of fuel on final approach."

An FAA inspector examined the airplane and reported that the left wing was buckled at the wing root, and the leading edge of the right wing sustained structural damage. The fuselage, aft of the baggage compartment, was buckled. The engine firewall was wrinkled, and the propeller blades were not damaged. Additionally, between 4 and 6 gallons of fuel were drained from each of the two wing fuel tanks.

According to the manufacturer, each Cessna 172D wing fuel tank has one fuel outlet at the inboard end of the tank. The fuel management section of the Cessna "Pilot Safety and Warning Supplements" booklet states that "in certain flight maneuvers the fuel may move away from the tank supply outlet." The supplement further states that "if the outlet is uncovered, fuel flow to the engine may be interrupted and a temporary loss of power may result. Pilots can prevent inadvertent uncovering of the tank outlet by having adequate fuel in the tank selected and avoiding maneuvers such as prolonged uncoordinated flight or sideslips which move fuel away from the feed lines."

The engine was test run in the airframe at Hampton Enterprises, Mena, Arkansas. Before the test run, a fuel line was replaced, the collapsed exhaust stacks were removed, and the carburetor air intake was removed due to compacted mud. A temporary fuel tank was mounted on the top of the fuselage, and the engine was started by "hand propping" the propeller. The engine was operated for fifteen minutes. According to the representative from Hampton Enterprises, "the engine ran excellent at all RPMs and both magnetos have the proper RPM drop."

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