On July 8, 2000, at 0310 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 402A twin-engine airplane, N402NA, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during a forced landing near Del City, Texas. The airplane was registered to the First Charlotte Leasing Company of Charlotte, North Carolina, and operated by Saber Cargo Airlines, Inc., of Charlotte, North Carolina. The commercial pilot and the pilot-rated passenger were not injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 air cargo flight. The cross-country flight originated from Charlotte, North Carolina, and was destined for El Paso, Texas, following a fuel stop at Denton, Texas. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
During a telephone interview conducted by the NTSB investigator-in-charge, the pilot stated that he topped off the main and auxiliary fuel tanks in Denton for the 2.8-hour, 479-nautical mile flight to El Paso. The pilot stated that the airplane was level at 11,000 feet, approximately 40 minutes from El Paso, when he elected to reposition the fuel selectors from the main fuel tanks to the auxiliary fuel tanks. The pilot stated that he switched the right main fuel tank to the right auxiliary fuel tank with no problems; however, when he switched the left fuel selector from the left main fuel tank to the left auxiliary fuel tank, the engine lost power. He then pushed the left engine controls forward and turned the fuel boost pump on high; however, there was no change in engine power. The pilot added that he switched the fuel selector for the left engine back to the left main fuel tank, but the engine still would not re-start. The pilot then elected to feather the left propeller; however, it would not feather.
The pilot declared an emergency to air traffic control and was given radar vectors to Del City, Texas. The pilot stated that he was unable to maintain altitude. He added that he used the remaining fuel from the left main fuel tank to run the right engine until the power started to fluctuate, then he switched back to the right auxiliary fuel tank. The pilot reported that he had the Del City Airport in sight, but as they were descending down through 6,000 feet, the right engine lost power due to "fuel starvation." The pilot landed the airplane in high desert terrain with the landing gear retracted. In addition, the pilot stated that the pilot-rated passenger did not assist in reading the checklist and was not "checked out" in the accident airplane make & model.
The pilot reported in a written statement, that he used "intensive troubleshooting" as per the checklist in order to attempt restarting the left engine. After the pilot elected to secure the left engine, the propeller would not feather. The pilot also made several attempts to regain left engine power using "feather/restart attempts." In addition, the pilot stated "I used all of the remaining fuel from the right tip [main] tank, left tip tank, and the right wing [auxiliary] tank prior to reaching the airport." After the aircraft came to rest, the pilot turned the fuel selector for the "extremely hot right engine" to the off position in an effort to prevent a fire and he secured the electrical system before exiting the aircraft.
According to an FAA inspector, who responded to the accident site, both engine firewalls were structurally damaged. The left fuel selector was found in the left main fuel tank position and the right fuel selector was found in the off position. The required Pilot Operating Handbook checklist was located in the pocket behind the left front seat (pilot).
Upon recovery of the aircraft, salvage personnel found that the left main fuel tank was empty, the right main fuel tank contained approximately 3.5 gallons of fuel, the left auxiliary fuel tank contained 20 gallons of fuel, and the right auxiliary fuel tank contained 12 gallons of fuel.
As specified in the Cessna 402A Pilot Operating Handbook, the capacity of the main fuel tanks is 51 gallons apiece, with 1 gallon in each tank being unusable. The capacity of the auxiliary fuel tanks is 20.5 gallons apiece, with .5 gallon in each tank being unusable.
The Cessna 402A Pilot Operating Handbook, under the Emergency Procedures section, addresses the procedures for an engine failure during flight, proper engine securing actions, and measures for a forced landing with a complete loss of power. In part, the handbook states, during an in-flight engine failure and before securing, the inoperative engine fuel flow is to be checked. If deficient, the auxiliary fuel pump switch is to be positioned to ON, with a note that if the fuel selector is in the AUXILIARY TANK position, switch to MAIN TANK and feel for detent. In addition, the fuel quantity is to be checked, and switched to the opposite MAIN TANK if necessary. In order to secure an inoperative engine, the fourth step in the checklist is to switch the respective fuel selector to the OFF position. During a forced landing with a complete loss of power, the third step in the appropriate checklist is to move both fuel selectors to the OFF position.
In the enclosed Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2), the pilot is reported to have accumulated 1,484 total flight hours, of which 284 hours were in multi-engine airplanes. The pilot had accumulated 15 hours in the accident airplane make & model, which included the accident flight.