SEA00LA109
SEA00LA109

On June 18, 2000, approximately 1620 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-16, N5995H, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain following takeoff from Evergreen Field, Vancouver, Washington. The private pilot, who was its sole occupant, was seriously injured in the accident. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the 14 CFR 91 local personal flight.

The pilot reported that he had just finished washing the airplane and decided to go once around the field to dry it. He reported that he did not receive permission from the aircraft owner to conduct this flight, and that the owner was unaware the flight took place until he was informed of the accident. The pilot indicated that he took off from runway 28R (a 2,120 by 40 foot asphalt runway.) He reported that the engine quit at approximately "200 feet MSL" (note: the field elevation is 310 feet above sea level) and that he then tried to switch fuel tanks but the engine "would not revive in time." He stated that he made a downwind turn to stay on the airport property if possible, and that the airplane then "lost lift." He stated he "made a dive to recover and flattened out [the] plane before hitting [the] ground." According to a diagram furnished with the pilot's report, the airplane impacted on a generally south-southeasterly flight path and came to rest near a row of hangars on the west edge of the field.

The pilot reported that he did not have a current flight review or medical certificate. He reported he did not keep a pilot logbook, and indicated that he had not flown as pilot-in-command (PIC) in the last 10 years. He also was unable to report much airworthiness-related information on the aircraft, stating he was not the aircraft owner. Information not reported on the pilot's NTSB accident report included: aircraft serial number, certified maximum gross weight, type of airworthiness certificate, model and series of engine (he reported only that the aircraft was equipped with a 115 HP Lycoming), engine total time, engine time since inspection, engine time since overhaul, date and type of last annual inspection, time since last annual inspection, airframe total time, and emergency locator transmitter (ELT) data. (NOTE: The NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) checked the aircraft registration database at the Internet site landings.com, and found that the airworthiness certificate type was not specified in the database entry for the aircraft.) The pilot reported that at the time of the flight, he was under the impression that the aircraft was licensed in accordance with FAA regulations, but that in retrospect, "apparently the tank modifications were not complete."

FAA inspectors who responded to the accident scene and subsequently performed a teardown examination of the aircraft's engine reported to the NTSB that they found that the aircraft had not undergone an annual inspection in 2 years. They reported finding fuel in the aircraft's fuel tanks and that they found no evidence of a mechanical problem with the engine, but did report that the aircraft had several unapproved and undocumented modifications installed. Among these was removal of the aircraft's 12-gallon fuselage fuel tank, and installation of an 18-gallon right wing tank in addition to an 18-gallon left wing tank. The approved fuel system installation for the type incorporates the fuselage tank as standard, with only the 18-gallon left wing tank as an optional installation. The FAA inspector who reported finding the unapproved fuel system installation further reported that the aircraft owner had been seeking FAA approval for this installation, but that the installation was failing tank drain tests. The inspector indicated that the nature of the right wing tank drain test failures was such that the tank drain port could have become unported at "extreme flight attitudes." It was not determined which fuel tank was selected at the time of the accident.

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