DEN99LA022
DEN99LA022

On November 30, 1998, approximately 0800 mountain standard time, a Ryan Navion A, N2PE, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain during a forced landing following takeoff from Carrizozo Municipal Airport, Carrizozo, New Mexico. The private pilot, the sole occupant aboard, received minor injuries. The airplane was owned/operated by the pilot under Title 14 CFR part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal cross-country flight which was originating at the time of the accident. No flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that the engine preflight run-up was "excellent," and the takeoff roll was "strong." He said that shortly after liftoff the engine sputtered once, and then quit. He "worked the throttle," turned on the fuel pump, and the engine started. The pilot said that 5 or 10 seconds later, the engine quit a second time. He leveled the wings (the landing gear was still down and the flaps were up) and hit hard. Subsequently, the right main landing gear struck a yucca root system, and collapsed. The airplane rotated 90 degrees, and the left main landing gear collapsed.

Postimpact examination by an FAA inspector revealed that the fuselage was bent up aft of the wings and the right main landing gear box was separated from the airplane. He further stated that "initial ground scar indicated that all 3 landing gear touched down simultaneously." The FAA inspector found the engine's spark plugs white in appearance, and the airplane's battery was missing. The fuel selector was found on the right main fuel tank. The FAA inspector found fuel in the flow divider, and in the fuel line between the fuel pump and the flow divider. No abnormalities were identified with the engine which would have prevented normal operation.

According to the airplane's maintenance logbooks, the airplane did not meet the FAA requirement for an annual inspection. A mechanic reported that he had worked on the airplane and had performed most of the required tasks for an annual inspection. He further stated that the airplane had an automobile battery in it, and the pilot did not want to replace it with an aviation battery. The mechanic stated that he would not signoff the annual inspection in the maintenance logbooks because "the airplane didn't meet airworthiness requirements."

The FAA inspector interviewed the pilot on two different occasions. During the first interview, the pilot reported that "he may have pulled the mixture back during the departure." During the second interview, the pilot stated that "he was adjusting the propeller rpm during departure."

The FAA inspector interviewed a member of the National Navion Association and he reported that "if the pilot performs a takeoff with the fuel selector on the tip tank, shortly after liftoff, the engine will quit." He said that the airplane's tip tank and its fuel lines are located in such away, that after the nose wheel landing gear rotates off the runway, "air will enter the fuel line." The airplane's Pilot's Operating Handbook states that takeoffs must be performed with the fuel selector on a main fuel tank.

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