On March 9, 2000, at 2012 central standard time, a Cessna 152 airplane, N68333, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power while on a VFR approach to the Lake Charles Regional Airport near Lake Charles, Louisiana. The airplane was registered to and operated by Aer Mistral Inc., of Fort Worth, Texas. The instrument rated commercial pilot and his pilot-rated passenger were not injured. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight, for which a flight plan was not filed. The cross-country flight originated from the Meacham International Airport, Fort Worth, Texas, at 1705, and was destined for Key West, Florida, with a planned fueling stop at the Chennault International Airport, Lake Charles, Louisiana. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the 450-hour pilot, the planned flight was about 265 nautical miles and the time en route was to be about 3.1 hours. He stated that both fuel tanks were full at the time of departure, and he flew at 2,500 feet msl and used a power setting of 2,300 rpm during the cruise portion of the flight. The pilot reported that he did not lean the mixture during the flight since he "remained below 3,000." He added that based on his computations utilizing the Cessna 152 performance charts, he would be able to complete the trip with the required 45 minutes of reserve fuel. According to a recording of communications with Lake Charles approach control, the pilot initially requested vectors to the Chennault International Airport, and shortly thereafter, requested vectors to the Lake Charles Regional Airport. As the airplane descended through 1,000 feet agl, the engine rpm began increasing and decreasing, and the pilot requested vectors to the nearest airport. The controller continued to vector the airplane toward Lake Charles Regional Airport. Subsequently, the engine lost total power and a forced landing was initiated. The airplane touched down on soft terrain, nosed over, and came to rest inverted 5 miles northwest of the Lake Charles Regional Airport.
The FAA inspector, who examined the airplane at the accident site, reported that there was "very slight bending of the propeller," and the engine firewall was structurally damaged. He stated that there were no indications of fuel leakage and he did not smell fuel at the accident site. The inspector drained 1.5 gallons of fuel from the left fuel tank and .05 gallons of fuel from the right fuel tank. According to the pilot's operating handbook (POH) for the Cessna 152, the total fuel capacity is 26 gallons, of which 24.5 gallons is usable.
According to the FAA inspector's report, based on the altitude and power settings the pilot stated that he used, the Cessna performance charts revealed an endurance of 3.7 hours and 45 minutes of reserve at 45% power. These figures are based on full tanks, maximum gross weight or less, and operations in accordance with the POH. The figures in the POH are based on leaning the mixture during cruise flight. Based on the recorded start hobbs meter time of 4443.4, and the reading of 4447.1 at the accident site, the duration of the flight was 3.7 hours.
According to the FAA inspector, another Cessna 152 airplane, N46854, piloted by a friend of the pilot of the accident airplane, departed on the same route of flight shortly after the accident airplane. The pilot of N46854 landed at the Chennault International Airport and refueled his airplane. The fuel receipt revealed that 24.1 gallons were added to the airplane (useable is 24.5). The pilot of N46854 stated that he flew at 2,500 feet, 2,300 rpm, and leaned the mixture during the cruise portion of his flight.