On October 14, 1998, at 0200 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32-300, N8619N, was substantially damaged during a forced landing at the Dunkirk Airport, (DKK), Dunkirk, New York. The certificated commercial pilot received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the positioning flight that originated at Buffalo, New York (BUF), at 0140, destined for Ravenna, Ohio (29G). An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
In a telephone interview, the pilot stated the purpose of the flight was to deliver newspapers to Rochester, New York (ROC), Buffalo, New York, and then return to his home station of Ravenna, Ohio. He said he was in cruise flight at 4,000 feet, in and out of the clouds, when he noticed a change in the airplane's performance. The pilot stated:
"Something didn't sound right or feel right about the way it was running. I was over the lake [Erie] so I started working towards land. I put the mixture up, switched from the right main to the left main tank, and turned the fuel pumps on...Once I moved the fuel selector from right to left, that's where it stayed...At that point, I noticed a beacon and I said something to Cleveland Center. I did not declare an emergency because I still had power and I had a beacon. Everything is full forward and it's not running at full power...I aimed right for the beacon."
The pilot said the airplane lost all engine power as it approached the Dunkirk Airport. The airplane collided with trees and terrain and came to rest approximately 1/4 mile from the runway at DKK.
Two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation Safety Inspectors examined the airplane wreckage at the site on October 14, 1998. In a written statement, the Airworthiness Inspector said:
"The aircraft was substantially damaged by crash impact damage...All fuel tanks except the right tip tank were ruptured. The fuel selector was in the left main position, and all engine controls were in the full forward position. The electric driven fuel pump was in the "on" position.
"The propeller had both blades bent rearward and exhibited no leading edge or tip impact damage. One blade exhibited root to tip scars and the other exhibited two chordwise scars. The engine air filter was clean and dry, and the throat of the fuel injector was unobstructed and dry. The spark plugs were white with no trace of gray. Fuel was not found at the injector, engine driven fuel pump, electric driven fuel pump, or the outlet of the fuel selector valve. Fuel did run through the selector valve from the right tip tank when that tank was selected.
"On October 16, 1998, the aircraft was positioned in a secure hangar and tests were performed to ensure the capability of the fuel selector and the electric driven fuel pump to operate properly. The selector flowed water from all ports to the outlet and did not leak water from the other tanks. The electric pump pumped water when supplied at the inlet. The fuel injector screen was removed and checked free of contamination. The filter well and filter was empty of fuel."
In a telephone interview, one FAA Inspector said there was an odor of fuel at the scene. Examination of the right auxiliary tip tank revealed approximately 8 gallons of fuel.
In written statement, the pilot said he "topped off" the fuel tanks prior to departure from 29G. Examination of fuel records revealed 16 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel was dispensed into N8619N on October 13, 1998, at 2204 hours.
A review of the flight itinerary revealed the airplane flew approximately 2.5 hours and performed 4 takeoffs with climbs to altitudes that ranged between 3,000 and 5,000 feet.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The engine was examined and test runs were performed at the Textron Lycoming Engine Company in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The tests were over a two-day period beginning March 16, 1999.
A cursory examination of the IO-540 engine revealed no pre-impact anomalies. Internal timing was confirmed and compression was verified using the thumb method. The spark plugs were examined and re-installed for the run. The engine was mounted in a stand and moved to the test cell for the test run.
The engine was slow to start but ran in the cell. A magneto check revealed a drop of 206 RPM on the right magneto but no RPM drop on the left.
The engine was stopped and fuel was found leaking from the engine-driven fuel pump. The pump was loosened, centered, and tightened to the engine. The pump operated and no fuel leaked during subsequent runs.
Examination of the left magneto revealed it was configured for right hand rotation. Factory specifications for the IO-540 engine called for the left magneto to be configured for left-hand rotation. The magnetos were configured, reinstalled and timed to factory specifications.
The engine started instantly and ran to rated power. A magneto "drop check" revealed that both magnetos operated within factory specifications.