On May 30, 1995, at 0900 hours Hawaii standard time, a Piper PA-28-151, N6243J, was destroyed in a collision with the ocean while on descent to the Honolulu International Airport, Honolulu, Hawaii. The aircraft was owned and operated by the pilot and was on a cross-country flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a VFR flight plan was filed for the operation. The certificated private pilot and his two passengers sustained fatal injuries. The flight originated from the Keahole airport at 0741 on the day of the accident. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
After arriving in the Honolulu area, the pilot was cleared to fly heading 285 degrees for a vector into Bravo airspace and to maintain 1,000 feet. The pilot replied that he was leaving 5,000 feet. At 0850 the pilot then called ATC and advised the operator that he was experiencing a rough running engine. The pilot was directed to proceed directly to Honolulu and was asked if he required any further assistance. The pilot replied that he did not need any further assistance at that time, but that he would advise. At 0852 the operator requested that the pilot expedite his descent to 1,000 feet. The pilot acknowledged the request.
At 0858 the pilot reported an intermittent engine. Again, he declined an offer of emergency equipment. At 0859 the pilot reported an engine failure. He stated that he intended to continue on his present heading and "maintain best rate." The pilot was advised that emergency equipment was being dispatched. The pilot was then asked to say fuel remaining and souls onboard. He replied that he had less than 10 gallons and that there were three people onboard. At 0901 ATC reported losing radio and radar contact with the aircraft. An Aloha Island Air pilot flying in the vicinity reported seeing the aircraft inverted in the water. Two victims were recovered from the water and the third remains missing.
An FAA inspector reported a witness said the pilot was anxious to return to Honolulu and declined an offer to eat breakfast. The pilot had indicated that one of his passengers was scheduled to work later in the day.
According to one of the co-owners of the aircraft, he had flown the same route from Honolulu to Kona with a return flight to Honolulu. He stated that on April 16, 1995, the return leg to Honolulu took 2 hours and he had found it necessary to refuel in Kona prior to his departure. He noted his fuel consumption had been about 7 gallons per hour at 2,400 rpm.
The mechanic who had been performing an annual inspection on the aircraft stated that the pilot and another co-owner of the aircraft (neither of whom were licensed mechanics) had been helping him perform some of the maintenance. On May 26, 1995, he reinstalled the right fuel tank. At that time he said 10 gallons of fuel was delivered by Air Service. He prop started the engine and completed a runup. The mechanic reported that he had about finished his inspection with the exception of the reinstallation of the left fuel tank. He told the pilot that he would continue the inspection on May 29, 1995, since he would not be available on May 27, 1995.
An FAA inspector examined the fuel records of Air Service and found no record of a fuel purchase from them on May 26, 1995. A co-owner of the aircraft was interviewed by telephone on May 27, 1995. He stated that the pilot reinstalled the left tank and then he and another co-owner went on about a 1-hour flight. A review of Air Service fueling records showed 35.1 gallons of fuel was delivered prior to the 1-hour flight. According to FAA inspectors, there were no records found of subsequent fuel purchases at Air Service, Keahole, or elsewhere.
The latest entry in either the aircraft or engine logbooks was on February 19, 1995, for an oil and filter change.
The representative for the aircraft manufacturer reported that the total fuel capacity of the aircraft was 50 gallons with approximately 2 gallons unusable. The representative also reported that the aircraft maintenance manual outlines specific procedures for verifying proper fuel gauge calibration after tank reinstallation. Neither the mechanic nor the co-owner reported verifying the fuel gauge calibration. A review of the engine logbook revealed that a supplemental type certificate (STC) No. SE1226CE had been applied to the powerplant increasing the horsepower from 150 to 160.
An FAA inspector reported that the pilot's flight instructor and mechanic had both informed him of two prior occasions in which the pilot had been forced to make unplanned landings due to low fuel.
One of the co-owners reported that the aircraft was equipped with life vests and a raft. However, there were no flotation devices found by rescue personnel who responded to the accident scene. The aircraft was not recovered from the ocean floor.
An autopsy was performed by the Honolulu City and County Medical Examiner. Biological tissue samples were forwarded to the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) for examination. CAMI reported the results of the toxicological analysis were negative.