SEA96LA085
SEA96LA085

On April 28, 1996, approximately 1300 Pacific daylight time, an Aero Commander 200D, N2975T, registered to Marketing Northwest Inc. of Kent, Washington, was substantially damaged in a forced landing following a loss of engine power approximately 1/2 mile southwest of Crest Airpark, Covington, Washington. The private pilot/owner, who was the aircraft's sole occupant, was not injured. The 14 CFR 91 flight originated at Pierce County Airport-Thun Field, Puyallup, Washington, and was attempting to land at Crest. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot stated that before departing Puyallup, "I noted that the two main tanks each were approximately half full - There was a couple of inches of fuel visible through the filler neck. Since the flight from Thun to Crest [a straight-line distance of 15 1/2 nautical miles] is not more than ten to fifteen minutes I elected to make the flight without refueling." He stated that the flight "went predictably until turning from Base to Final for runway 33 at Crest." The pilot stated that at that point, he was configured with gear down and 20 degrees of flaps, and that while in the turn, "I appeared to be a little high for the approach so I deployed flaps to forty degrees. At that same moment, without any warning the engine stopped. I was still in [a] left bank and I believe I was on the left main tank." The pilot stated that he "immediately switched to the right main tank but did not activate the boost pump because it had flooded the engine in the past." He then decided that he would not be able to make the landing runway and that there was no more time to attempt further remedial action, and performed a forced landing on a westerly heading in an open field short of the runway. The forced landing surface consisted of soft dirt and was on rolling terrain surrounded by trees. The airplane was damaged in the forced landing. On-site examination of the fuel tank quantities revealed that the right main tank appeared empty, the left main tank contained residual fuel, and both auxiliary tanks appeared approximately 1/4 full. When electrical power was applied to the aircraft, the fuel quantity gauges indicated as follows: left auxiliary 1/4 tank, left main empty, right main empty (in red arc), and right auxiliary empty (in red arc.)

The engine was subsequently test run under the supervision of FAA inspectors from the Flight Standards District Office in Renton, Washington. One of the inspectors reported the results of the engine test run as follows: "Both [inspectors] visually checked the fuel tanks and both [main] tanks looked empty, however, the filler necks are forward of the tank outlets...there was enough residual fuel to do the test...we did not add fuel....I operated the [Continental] IO-520-A engine for about 5 minutes, switching tanks after about 2 minutes and the mag[neto]s checked O.K. at 1,700 rpm." The inspector expressed the opinion in his report that "a steep bank starved the engine of fuel while on final approach."

According to the FAA type certificate data sheet for the model 200D, the aircraft has a total fuel capacity of 80 gallons (74 gallons usable), consisting of 20 gallons (18.5 gallons usable) in each of four tanks: left main, right main, left auxiliary, and right auxiliary.

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