On November 27, 1995, about 1643 hours Pacific standard time, a Cessna 152, N6349M, made a forced landing after takeoff from Hayward Air Terminal, Hayward, California. The aircraft sustained substantial damage; however, neither the certificated flight instructor nor the certificated private pilot were injured. The aircraft was being operated by Nice Air, San Jose, California, as a personal flight when the accident occurred. The flight originated in San Jose. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan had been filed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
A few minutes after takeoff, the Hayward tower received a call from a pilot reporting a rough running engine. He attempted to return to the airport, but did not have sufficient altitude to reach the runway. The pilot executed a forced landing on the abandoned Sky West golf course southeast of the airport. On touchdown, the nose gear collapsed, the forward cowling was crushed, and the main landing gear were damaged.
A helicopter unit from the East Bay Regional Parks Police arrived at the accident site about 5 to 6 minutes after being notified of an aircraft down by the Hayward tower. Upon their arrival on scene, both the chief pilot and another police pilot reported recognizing one of the occupants as a San Jose Police Department sergeant whom they had met previously. They recognized the name of the second occupant who they knew to be employed as a police helicopter pilot for the San Jose Police Department. The chief pilot asked who had been pilot-in-command. The sergeant, who is a private pilot, replied that he had been. The sergeant was then asked if he had run out of gas to which he replied he had not. The chief pilot suggested to both occupants that a visual inspection of the aircraft's fuel tanks be made in order to verify fuel quantity while there were witnesses present to observe the results.
The chief pilot stated that the aircraft was leveled from its nose low, left wing down position. He saw about 2 inches of liquid on a stick after it was inserted and withdrawn from the left tank through the filler neck. The same procedure was applied to the right tank which resulted in the withdrawal of a completely dry stick. He also recalled being told by one of the two occupants that the engine had been shut down prior to landing. The manufacturer reported that an open line connects both main tanks and allows a gravity transfer to equalize fuel levels if the wings are level or to transfer to the lower tank if the aircraft is wing low.
The chief pilot also reported seeing some liquid run out of the engine fuel sump when it was checked. (A memorandum of a telephone conversation with both pilots of the East Bay Regional Parks Police is appended to this report.)
The carburetor was crushed; however, there was no fuel staining on the surrounding aircraft structure. The sergeant told the officers that their total flight time had been 2 hours and 30 minutes since their original takeoff from San Jose. Both he and the passenger (who was later identified as the sergeant's flight instructor by the operator) estimated that they had between 1/3 to 1/2 of their fuel remaining when they departed Hayward. (The Hayward Police Department report is appended to this report.)
About 1700 on the evening of the accident, the Hayward police advised the Safety Board investigator that they were preparing to leave the accident site and that manpower was not available to provide continuous security for the aircraft. The investigator told the officer that the Safety Board was not taking custody of the wreckage and suggested that the owner be notified as soon as possible. The officer replied that both occupants of the aircraft had already left the scene and their whereabouts were unknown at that time.
The Teller Group was assigned as the adjuster at about 1300 on November 28, 1995, the day following the accident. The adjuster contacted the operator and arranged for one of his employees (flight instructor) to provide security at the site until he was able to arrive later that afternoon. The adjuster confirmed for investigators that security had been available on the site from about 1300 on the day after the accident until about 1630 later that afternoon when he actually arrived. He also told investigators that there had not been any claims filed for any missing property. He stated that he had not requested or assigned any other security service, nor had he been billed for any other security services arising from this accident. There was no evidence to show the aircraft had been secured between about 1700 on the day of the accident until 1300 on the following day.
The passenger (instructor) and sergeant (private pilot) spoke with the operator after returning to San Jose. The operator told the FAA inspector that the instructor told him that they lost total engine power about 3 minutes after takeoff from the Hayward airport. The private pilot told him that after he performed the in-flight emergency check list procedures, the passenger (instructor) took over and completed the forced landing. The passenger confirmed that he taken the controls and made a forced landing on the Sky West golf course. The operator asked both pilots what they thought happened and both replied that the engine had just died. When asked if they bought fuel during their flight they both said they had not. (The operator's reconstruction of this conversation is appended to this accident report.)
The sergeant contended that he was the pilot and that the instructor was a passenger. The operator, however, stated that the aircraft had been rented to the flight instructor and that private pilot would not have been allowed to rent the aircraft anyway since he was not a member of the flying club which is a prerequisite to renting an aircraft.
In response to the Safety Board's request for a completed pilot report, the instructor sent the investigator a letter referencing the Safety Board's request, and indicating that he was not the pilot-in-command per Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 830, stating that passengers are not required to file this report. He suggested that the Safety Board investigator contact the FAA and update the ongoing accident investigation. When contacted, the FAA inspector (coordinator) was not aware of the flight instructor's letter to the Safety Board, nor did she concur with his determination as to who was pilot-in-command. Conversely, the inspector informed the Safety Board investigator that, according to her understanding of the FAR's, the flight instructor should be considered to be the pilot-in-command for, among other things, the fact that he took the controls during the in-flight emergency, demonstrating his pilot-in-command authority.
The investigator attempted to follow up with the instructor at his home and through his place of employment. His supervisor confirmed that the instructor was no longer living at the address he had last reported to the FAA. The supervisor further advised that the instructor was currently out of state on active military orders and that while he had not provided his department with a telephone number or address where he could be contacted, he did call in periodically to check for messages. A second request was sent in care of his work address to be forwarded to him after he had been informed of its arrival. As of the completion of this accident report, the investigator has not received a completed pilot report from the instructor. As of completion of this report, the investigator still has no current address, telephone number, and his whereabouts remain unknown. (His supervisor did not provide a military address or specific military installation.)
In subsequent communications between the Safety Board investigator and FAA inspectors, the inspectors reported that the flight instructor acknowledged receiving both Safety Board requests for the completed report. A copy of the second request for a pilot report, which had been addressed to the instructor at his place of employment, was received by FAA inspectors as an attachment to a letter from the private pilot's congressman. (The Congressional package and the FAA inspector's response are appended to this report.)
A records check with the operator failed to identify a rental agreement for the flight. When the operator looked for the rental agreement for this flight the day after the accident he reportedly found it missing. He was, however, able to locate the rental agreement for the previous flight. That flight took place on November 25, 1995, for a duration of 2.0 hours for that flight. The out time on the aircraft Hobbs meter was 5,102.5 hours and the in time was 5,104.5. The Hobbs meter read 5,106.9 after the accident for additional elapsed time of 2.4 hours.
The operator also provided FAA inspectors a copy of his fuel invoices for November 11, 1995, through November 27, 1995, inclusive. The invoice showed the last refueling of N6349M took place on November 24, 1995. According to a copy of the fuel log which was obtained from Inbound Aviation for their No. 2 fuel truck, the last time that N6349M had been refueled at the Reid-Hillview airport was on November 24, 1995. At that time, 9.6 gallons of 80/87 aviation fuel were dispensed from the truck directly into the aircraft's fuel tanks. The fueler reported that usual practice is to top off the tanks of Cessna 152's. The date and amount of fuel recorded on the fuel log corresponded with the operator's fuel invoice. (The fuel invoice, fuel log, and a memorandum of a telephone conversation with Inflight Aviation are appended to this accident report.)
A representative for the aircraft manufacturer reported the fuel capacity for the aircraft is 26 gallons in a standard tank configuration (13 gallons in each wing tank), with 24.5 gallons usable (12.25 gallons in each wing tank). According to the pilot operators handbook (POH) for a 1981 Cessna 152, the time to fuel exhaustion at 4,000 feet density altitude (DA) with 75% power is 4.0 hours with an average fuel consumption of 6.1 gph. At 4,000 feet DA with 65% power the time to fuel exhaustion is 4.5 hours with an average fuel consumption of 5.3 gph. The remaining 1.5 gallons of fuel is unusable (.75 gallons in each wing tank).
Based on the last fueling records (full fuel, 26 gallons), and the previous rental agreements, Hobbs out and in times (5,102.5 to 5,104.5) for 2.0 hours elapsed time, the aircraft departed Reid-Hillview with 2.0 hours of fuel already having been flown. The Hobbs in time after the accident read 5,106.9 (5,104.5 to 5,106.9) for 2.4 hours elapsed time for the accident flight. The total Hobbs time since the last refueling was 4.4 hours.
An FAA inspector contacted both of the refuelers at Hayward Air Terminal, Flightcraft, and Hayward Jet Center, each reported "walk in" cash sales were made on the day of the accident without reference to any aircraft registration number.
On November 28, 1995, about 1300 Faith Aircraft (aircraft retrieval) was contacted by The Teller Group to perform the aircraft recovery. At approximately 2100 that day, the retrieval technician arrived at the accident site. The retrieval technician reported that he did not see any security personnel at the time he arrived.
The recovery technician reported draining between 7 and 8 gallons of fuel from the aircraft. He stated that the fuel appeared blue in color and it had the odor of aviation fuel. He stated that he did not see any evidence of a fuel leak or a fuel spill. The aircraft was transported to the operator's facility at Reid-Hillview airport. (A memorandum of a telephone conversation with Faith Aircraft is appended to this report.)
The aircraft and engine logbooks were reviewed by an FAA airworthiness inspector. He specifically looked for any maintenance that had been performed or deferred on the throttle linkage going back several years from the date of the accident. At the conclusion of the review he reported that he had not identified any conditions or discrepancies that he believed could have caused or contributed to an in-flight engine failure.
After recovery, FAA inspectors attempted an engine run. The crushed carburetor was replaced and the engine was removed from the broken engine mounts and remounted in another airframe. The engine manufacturer provided performance specifications for the run. The engine was started, and according to the FAA inspectors, met the manufacturer's performance parameters. There were no fuel or oil leaks, unusual engine sounds or abnormal instrument indications during the run.