On May 13, 1995, at 1917 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 310J, Canadian registry CFSLE, operated by Aviation Unlimited, Toronto, Canada, was substantially damaged during a precautionary landing to an open field in Ararat Township, Pennsylvania. The airline transport pilot and two passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, for the business flight that originated from Newark, New Jersey, at 1830. An IFR flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
In the NTSB Form 6120.1/2, and during a telephone interview, the pilot stated that the flight departed Newark International Airport (EWR), for the Buttonville Airport, Toronto, Canada. He departed EWR with about 45 gallons of fuel in each wing tank and 15 gallons in each auxiliary tank. The start, run up, takeoff, and climb to 10,000 feet were uneventful. During a cruise check at 10,000 feet, the gauges for the main fuel tanks indicated 35 to 40 gallons each, and the load meter for the generators indicated a positive load.
About 30 minutes into the flight, the airplane's transponder was reported to be inoperative by New York Center. The pilot stated that a few minutes later he noticed the dash panel lights were inoperative. This was followed by the communication and navigation radios failing. He also noticed that the fuel gauges were reading low. The pilot checked and found no circuit breakers opened; however, the load meter for the generators no longer indicated a positive load. The pilot could not reset the generators. He decided to descend to find an airport at which to land, while still in VMC conditions. During the descent, he noticed the fuel gauges were reading lower. He visually checked the fuel caps during the descent and did not observe any fuel leaks.
The pilot stated that at 4,000 feet, the main fuel tank gauges indicated empty, and the auxiliary tank gauge indicated about 5 gallons. His hand held GPS displayed an airport within 6 miles of his position; however, concerned about fuel exhaustion, the pilot elected to make a precautionary landing to an open field. The landing gear was cranked down by hand. After touchdown, the right main gear contacted a hole in the ground and the landing gear collapsed. The airplane came to rest on the left main landing gear, nose wheel, and the right wing tip.
In the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector's report, and during a telephone interview, he stated that after initial takeoff from EWR, CFSLE made an immediate return and landing back at EWR. The inspector stated that the pilot replaced an oil cap on the right engine, and the airplane proceeded with a subsequent takeoff.
Examination of the wreckage by the FAA Inspector revealed fuel in the main and auxiliary fuel tanks. Both generator belts were found in place, tight, and the wiring was attached.
Installed in the airplane were two 12-volt, 24 ampere hour batteries, wired in series. According to the Cessna Service Manual (CSM) continuous electrical load chart, the minimum amperage load on the electrical system would have been about 15 amperes. The CSM also listed the fuel gauge system as electrical, with a draw of .15 amperes.
According to the FAA Inspector's statement:
...With the electrical system running on the batteries, 30 to 40 minutes of flight time at night would discharge the batteries and cause the electrical failure.
The pilot had accumulated 17,962 hours of flight experience. He had a total of 10 hours in the Cessna 310.