NYC98LA132
NYC98LA132

On June 24, 1998, about 1610 Eastern Daylight Time, an Extra Flugzeugbau EA-260, N148GC, was destroyed during a forced landing near Georgia, Vermont. The certificated commercial pilot received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, the airplane was in flight approximately 40 minutes when the engine started to produce "very limited" power. The main fuel tank gauge indicated empty and the auxiliary fuel tank gauge showed 1/4 to 1/3 full. The pilot had a low fuel flow indication, and the boost pump had no effect. The pilot elected to land in a large field to resolve the problem. During touchdown, "the left gear encountered a small hole and collapsed," and the left wing impacted the ground.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, the airplane had three fuel tanks: two wing tanks that gravity feed into a main tank. The fuel indication system consisted of two gages in the cockpit; one gauge indicated fuel in the main tank, and the other indicated fuel in the left wing. The engine received fuel from the main tank through a filter screen.

During FAA inspection, the left and main tanks were found empty, and it was determined that the right tank had contained about 7 gallons of fuel. The fuel bowl had fuel in it, and the screen was clean. The left wing cap was found to be slightly loose and had a flattened o-ring where the cap screwed into the tank. The fuel vent line was disconnected, and no obstructions were found. "The propeller blades were sheared at the hub, indicating that the engine was under power upon landing."

The pilot, who held FAA maintenance inspection authorization (IA), disassembled the airplane for transport. When the gravity fuel line from the right tank was disconnected from the main tank, no fuel flowed out of it. However, once the right tank vent line was removed, fuel flowed freely. Another person on-scene placed his thumb over the hole where the fuel vent line had been, and the flow of fuel stopped.

The pilot suspected that insects in the fuel vent system prevented normal fuel flow from the right tank to the main tank. Coincidentally, on initial takeoff there was also no airspeed indication. Then on downwind, the indicator began to work normally. According to the pilot, there was an inordinate amount of mud daubers in the region due to heavy spring rains.

When asked why he hadn't landed before the main fuel gauge indicated zero, the pilot stated that he had not been looking at the fuel gauges because they were normally unreliable. He used timing to determine fuel consumption.

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