On December 23, 1998, about 1000 Atlantic standard time, a Cessna 402B, N8203Q, registered to and operated by Tol Air services, Inc., as flight 203, a Title 14 CFR Part 91 positioning flight, from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, crashed during landing at San Juan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft received substantial damage and the commercial-rated pilot was not injures. The flight originated from St. Croix, the same day, about 0930.

The pilot stated that as he turned from downwind leg to base leg, during the approach to land at San Juan, he turned on the electric fuel boost pumps to the low position. The engines immediately started to sputter. He turned the electric boost pumps off and the engines started sounding normal again. After completing the turn to base leg, the engines again started to sputter and then surge. The manifold pressure dropped on both engines and "the plane got really quiet-both engines out." He had some altitude and he increased his descent to help start the engines. He attempted to restart both engines, which was successful.

The right engine continued to surge after restart with high manifold pressure and rpm's, and the left engine surged with low manifold pressure and rpm's. The aircraft jerked hard to the left during this time. He applied full right rudder which corrected the left turn, but the aircraft oscillated around the vertical axis 15-20 degrees. Full right rudder gave positive directional control and he was able to turn to the final leg and line up with the runway. He reduced engine power and lowered the wing flaps to full down to slow the aircraft and when the runway was assured he reduced engine power some more. The airplane immediately jerked hard to the left again, pulling the airplane off to the left of the runway and the airplane crashed in the grass to the left of the runway. After the airplane came to rest he noticed flames around his legs and seat and then grabbed his flight bag and GPS and exited the aircraft. On exiting he noticed the left wing and left side of the airplane was on fire. (See attached pilot statement)

Postcrash examination of the airplane by FAA inspectors showed the aircraft was in the grass area to the left of runway 10, facing north. The nose landing gear was collapsed and the nose section was damaged. Both propellers had blade damage indicating rotation at the time of ground impact. The left wing outboard of the engine was separated from the aircraft and burned. The cabin of the airplane was burned and the right main landing gear was collapsed. The mixture and propeller controls were in the full forward position and the throttles were in the idle position. Examination of the engines showed no evidence of inflight fire damage or mechanical failure or malfunction. (See attached inspector statement)

Review of transcripts of radio communications between the pilot of N8203Q and the FAA San Juan Air Traffic Control Tower showed that no transmissions were received from the pilot indicating he was having any problems with the aircraft. (See attached transcript)

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