ANC97LA065
ANC97LA065

On May 1, 1997, about 1201 Alaska daylight time, a wheel equipped Cessna U206F airplane, N14C, operated by Jay Hawk Air, of Anchorage, Alaska, under 14 CFR Part 135 as an on-demand air taxi flight, sustained substantial damage following a loss of engine power and subsequent forced landing to an off airport site located about 17 miles southwest of Hope, Alaska. The commercial certificated pilot and one of the three passengers aboard reported minor injuries. The remaining two passengers were not injured. The flight was returning to Merrill Field, Anchorage, from Montague Island, Alaska. The flight departed Montague Island about 1120.

In his written report to the NTSB, the pilot related he was just beginning a cruise descent from 5,000 feet msl, when the engine "cut out" for one or two seconds. He said he decided to enrich the mixture, because he thought the engine might be running lean because of the descent. About a minute later, the engine "...cut out again and then seemed to surge in and out. At this point I commenced with emergency procedures. I pitched for best glide speed and trimmed the plane. Then I began to look for the best choice of airfields. At this point, however, I was still not sure if the engine had stopped completely." The pilot's statement notes he recalls reaching down to switch the fuel tanks, bringing the mixture to full rich, switching the magnetos, and activating the fuel boost pump. The engine would not restart, but the propeller kept windmilling all the way to the ground.

The pilot reported he was attempting to reach an abandoned gasline airstrip (North Gasline), but was unable to reach the airstrip, and made a forced landing into spruce trees. Prior to impact, he said he switched the fuel selector to the "OFF" position, and instructed the passengers to crack their doors open.

During a telephone conversation with the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) on May 15, the pilot related essentially the same information as in his written statement. The IIC asked him about his fuel management techniques, and the pilot replied he had been flying the airplane all of the flight with the fuel selector on the left tank. He was asked if he remembered switching the fuel tank selector to the right tank following the loss of engine power. He said he recalled reaching down to move the selector, but doesn't actually remember moving it.

The NTSB IIC interviewed the right front seat passenger, Ralph S. Johnson, Yakutat, Alaska, via telephone on May 15. Mr. Johnson was asked if he was familiar with a Cessna 206. He said he was, and that he "flew the bush" quite a bit in Cessna airplanes, and always liked to sit up front when he could. He was asked if he was familiar with where the fuel gauges, the fuel selector, and fuel boost pump switches were located. He said he was, and then accurately described their locations.

Mr. Johnson was asked to recount the events of the flight. He said the flight was uneventful until the engine started surging as they begin a descent near Hope. He said he recalls looking at the gas gauges, and seeing the left tank was reading empty. He said the right tank indicated full. He remembered the pilot working the boost pump switch. He said he told the pilot, "Switch your tanks, man!", and that the pilot responded by saying words to the effect, "just relax." He said the fuel selector was on the left tank, and that the pilot did not switch to the right tank.

Postaccident inspection of the accident airplane's fuel tanks disclosed a full right tank, and residual fuel, estimated at less than one gallon, in the left tank.

The engine was removed from the airplane and inspected. It displayed no obvious signs of malfunction. The engine was placed on a test stand at Sea Air, Inc., on May 30. The engine started and ran without observed malfunction.

The electric boost pump was removed from the airplane and tested. It performed within the factory specified parameters.

No parts of the airplane were retained by the NTSB.

Parties to the investigation were Jay Hawk Air, and the FAA.

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