MIA00LA031
MIA00LA031

On November 28, 1999, about 2100 eastern standard time, a Cessna 175, N7145M, registered to a private individual, dba Aerial Sign Advertising, operating as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, crashed while attempting a go-around at Goose Creek Airport, Mint Hill, North Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane sustained substantial damage, and the private-rated pilot and a commercially-rated safety pilot/passenger were not injured. The flight originated from Mitchellville, Maryland, about 2 hours 45 minutes before the accident.

According to the pilot-in-command, his landing approach was too high and as he added power in preparation for a go-around maneuver the engine quit. Despite the safety pilot/passenger's taking control and performing the emergency procedures for an airborne engine failure, they were not able to regain engine power. One step that was attempted was to switch the fuel selector from "both" to "left" tank. During the subsequent forced landing, the airplane clipped two high tension wires and landed in a field, collapsing the nose landing gear. The PIC stated that the right tank was empty, and the left tank was between a third and quarter full.

According to the Director of Operations, (DO) for Aerial Sign Advertising, the flight was a return to base after 2.5 hours of aerial sign towing in the Baltimore/Washington, DC area. Prior to the return flight, 20 to 21 gallons of 100LL was pumped aboard N7145M, and was not visually confirmed by the PIC or the safety pilot/passenger. According to the DO, 5 to 10 gallons of fuel was contained in the left tank and the right tank was empty at the wreckage site. Uncontaminated fuel was found in the gascolator, fuel lines, and the carburetor at the wreckage site. Additionally, the DO stated that the airplane had undergone an engine change per STC SA122NW, (Substitution of Teledyne Continental Motors, (TCM) O-470 engine, McCauley propeller, engine mount, cowling, baffles and associated parts for the factory installed GO-300 engine series) and had developed a tendency to "suck out of the right tank" more so than the left tank when the fuel selector was on the "both" position.

According to the FAA inspector who responded to the accident call, the aircraft came to rest upright and the wings sustained impact damage but no fuel tank breaching. The wing tanks contained "trace" fuel in the right tank and "several gallons" in the left tank. The fuel selector was in the "left" position, but the SIC stated he had positioned it there from the "both" position after the engine quit. Field examination of the wreckage revealed good spark at the spark plugs, fuel in the carburetor bowl, and functional engine cockpit controls.

The TCM O-470J engine, serial no. 202206-R, was removed from the wreckage and shipped, with accompanying maintenance records, to the TCM factory for failure analysis. According to the TCM Engine Analysis Report, engine logs revealed that TCM rebuilt the engine on May 31, 1997, and the engine was subsequently installed on N7145M. With FAA oversight and adjusting for superficial impact damage, the engine was mounted in a test cell, and engine start up was immediate and smooth. After warm up, the engine accelerated smoothly and produced rated power. TCM specifications for magneto checks and jam accelerations were met. The engine exhibited no condition that would have caused an operational problem.

The type certification data sheets for the Cessna 175 aircraft state the fuel capacity is 52 gallons in two 26-gallon wing tanks. The data sheets also state that of the 52 gallon total, 43 gallons is usable and 9 gallons is unusable. The PIC's statement as to fuel remaining at the time of the engine stoppage being 1/3 to 1/4 full in the left tank computes to about 8.6 gallons to 6.5 gallons.

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