On June 10, 1999, about 0925 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 182P, N1578M, registered to TAE Air Service, Inc., experienced a loss of engine power and collided with a power line during a descent for a forced landing shortly after takeoff from Palm Beach County Park, Lantana, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 instructional flight. The airplane was substantially damaged and the student pilot, the sole occupant, sustained minor injuries. The flight originated about 10 minutes earlier from the Palm Beach County Park Airport.

The pilot stated that she performed a preflight to the airplane using the Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) which included checking the wing fuel tanks and gascolator for contaminants; water was detected in the sample obtained from the left wing fuel tank. She discarded the contaminated sample from the left fuel tank and obtained another sample stating, "...the fuel ran clear and I was satisfied that it had been eliminated." She held open the gascolator drain for more than 4 seconds allowing the fuel to drain on the ramp; she did not observe any water droplets in the fuel. The engine was started and an engine run-up was performed before takeoff with no discrepancies noted to the magnetos.

The flight departed with full fuel tanks with the intention of remaining in the traffic pattern for full-stop taxi back landings. She further stated that after takeoff, the flight turned crosswind, then after turning onto the downwind leg at 1,000 feet msl with the engine power reduced to 15 inches manifold pressure, the engine sputtered. She declared an emergency over the UNICOM frequency and turned base where she lowered 20 degrees of flaps. She then turned onto short final approach and lowered full flaps then recognizing that she did not want to land long, she applied full power to go-around. The engine responded, she initiated a climb retracting the flaps in increments. When about 300 feet above ground level, the engine then quit. She maneuvered the airplane for a forced landing to an open field. With the flaps fully extended and recognizing that she was unable to land in the field, she continued to descend colliding with an unmarked power line, the ground, and a house approximately 1 statute mile east of the airport.

Examination of the airplane by an FAA inspector revealed that the left wing fuel tank was leaking fuel; the fuel selector was found positioned to the "both" position. A fuel sample taken from the right wing fuel tank revealed no contaminants. A fuel sample taken from the gascolator revealed water and fuel. The carburetor was removed from the airplane and the carburetor bowl was drained and found to contain approximately 110 milliliters of water. Examination of each wing tank fuel cap revealed both had serviceable seals installed.

Testing of the water found in the carburetor bowl by Panair Laboratory, Inc., revealed it to contain free chlorine and sodium chloride. A copy of the report is an attachment to this report. No determination was made as to the source of the water that contained free chlorine and sodium chloride.

Airworthiness Directives 83-13-01 and 84-10-01R1, which pertain to alerting the pilot to the potential effects of improper fuel cap sealing and to prevent power loss or engine stoppage due to water contamination of the fuel system, respectively, were applicable to the accident airplane. Airworthiness Directive 83-13-01, indicates that a placard is required to be installed near the fuel gauges which reads "CAUTION Leaking fuel caps can cause loss of fuel and erroneously high fuel quantity indications."

Examination of the airplane at the accident site revealed that there was no placard near the fuel gauges.

Review of the airplane maintenance records revealed that the airplane was inspected last in accordance with an annual inspection on September 28, 1998. According to the Customer Service Discrepancy Report sheets provided by the facility that performed the inspection, compliance with Airworthiness Directives 83-13-01 and 84-10-01R1 were complied with.

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