On July 19, 2001, at 1550 hours Pacific daylight time, a Beech J35, N3014C, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power while in the traffic pattern for landing at the McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada. The private pilot and two passengers were uninjured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight conducted by the pilot under 14 CFR Part 91 from El Monte, California, to Las Vegas. No flight plan was filed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot stated that he had a full load of fuel when he departed the El Monte airport. The two main tanks held 20 gallons of fuel each totaling 40 gallons, of which 34 were useable. The interconnected auxiliary tanks held an additional 20 gallons. The airplane was equipped with a Shadin fuel management system, indicating fuel flow, gallons used, and gallons remaining. The pilot had selected the left main tank for takeoff and climb. After burning 10.1 gallons from the left tank, he switched to the auxiliary tank over Baker, California, which is approximately halfway between El Monte and Las Vegas. He continued on the auxiliary tank for the remainder of the flight. The right tank was not used. The pilot also stated that he had the auxiliary tank selected during his landing at Las Vegas. He stated that the fuel flow was set to 12.2 to 12.6 gallons per hour during the cruise portion of the flight. As he approached the airport for landing, he verified that the fuel selector was in the auxiliary position, and believed that he should have had about 13 gallons remaining. On short final to runway 19 right, the engine lost power, resulting in a forced landing on a dirt road approximately 1/4 mile from the runway. According to the pilot, the airplane landed hard in a 5- to 10-degree bank and skidded to a stop. He noted a fuel leak from below the left wing and turned the fuel selector to the off position prior to evacuating the aircraft.
The airplane was inspected on scene by an inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Las Vegas Flight Standards District Office. The inspector stated that the left and right auxiliary tanks were empty, while corresponding main tanks were full. The fuel selector was found in the off position. The fuel line downstream from the fuel selector valve, and just prior to the fuel injector manifold, was opened. No fuel was observed in the lines. The fuel selector was inspected, and it was determined that the selector was placarded in accordance with the approved airplane flight manual, and the selector was properly indexed in each position. The fuel lines were recharged and all lines had continuity through the fuel selector to the fuel divider. There was no evidence of preimpact fuel leakage noted by the inspector. The Shadin fuel management system data was recorded on scene by the FAA inspector. It indicated that the airplane had used 19.6 gallons total, at a rate of 12.7 gallons per hour on average. A small amount of fuel was leaking from the main landing gear wheel wells, where the wing spar had broken and the belly skin had been torn.
A review of the Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) and FAA Approved Airplane Flight Manual found in the accident airplane revealed that the left main tank should be used first, until at least 10 gallons have been consumed, and landings should be made on the fullest main tank. The auxiliary tanks are not to be used for takeoffs and landings. In reference to the fuel system of the accident aircraft, the POH states the following: "The fuel injection system returns about 10 gallons per hour of excess fuel, fuel return lines are routed through the selector valve to each main cell; except for the auxiliary cells, fuel is returned to the cell from which it is drawn. The auxiliary cells return fuel to the left main cell only." Additionally, the POH states, "use auxiliary fuel in level flight only and do not use for takeoff or landing." In the landing checklist provided in the POH, item 2 states "Fuel selector valve - Select main tank more nearly full." Additionally, the fuel selector valve in the airplane was placarded with a statement "level flight only," under the auxiliary tank selection indicator.
The pilot had purchased the airplane approximately 1 month prior to the accident, and had logged 25 hours of flight time in it. He had made this same trip three times prior to the accident.