CHI03LA023
CHI03LA023

On November 15, 2002, at 1150 central standard time, a PA-32RT-300T, N36315, piloted by a commercial pilot, was destroyed on impact with terrain following a loss of engine power during initial climb from Longville Municipal Airport (XVG), Longville, Minnesota. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot and one passenger received serious injuries, and the remaining passenger received minor injuries. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.

A passenger on the accident flight stated that the airplane had been parked outside overnight and estimated that the outside air temperature was 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit when he arrived for the accident flight. The airplane was not refueled at XVG.

The pilot stated that all the items from the before takeoff check list were normal. The climb out was uneventful for about the first 300 feet during which time he retracted the landing gear. He described the loss of engine power by stating that the engine went silent abruptly and began to windmill. After the loss in power, he lowered the nose to maintain airspeed, switched fuel tanks from right to left, and verified that the electric fuel pump was still on. He cycled the ignition key to ensure that it was in the correct position. About 10-15 seconds after the loss of engine power, they began to descend into trees. They struck the trees and rolled inverted.

The pilot stated during a post accident telephone interview that he did not recall draining the fuel tanks before beginning the accident flight. He said that the engine start, run up, and takeoff were all performed with the right fuel tank selected. The engine never backfired when the power loss occurred; it was instantaneous as if both magnetos died.

The on-scene portion of the investigation was conducted by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector from the Minneapolis Flight Standards District Office. The departure runway was covered with approximately one inch of snow. The fuselage was located about 1/4 mile south of the departure runway resting inverted on a heading of 120 degrees at the bottom of a downward sloped wooded area. The main wreckage was preceded by a wooded area for about 300 feet, a field, and another wooded area. The left wing was separated outboard from the main landing gear; the right wing was separated between the wing root and main landing gear; and the vertical and horizontal stabilizers were separated from the fuselage. There were several pools of a liquid and an odor consistent with 100 low lead (100 LL) aviation fuel present in the area near the wreckage.

Inspection of the cockpit revealed that the mixture, propeller, and throttle controls were forward. The battery switch, alternator, and fuel pump switches were on. The magneto and starter switch was in the both position. The flap selector handle was not engaged in its detent and was in the 0 degree flap position. A Shadin Microflo fuel flow indicator was removed from the instrument panel in order to download its nonvolatile memory. The fuel selector was in the left fuel tank detent position. The fuel selector was then removed and no fuel was noted to drain out when the fuel lines were disconnected. No anomalies were noted with the operation of the fuel selector.

The engine was removed from the airframe and inspected by the FAA and Textron Lycoming. Removal of the engine driven fuel pump revealed that the pump drive shaft was intact and a liquid consistent with aviation fuel was present. The fuel pump was tested within the manufacturer’s test specifications. The top spark plugs were removed and a thumb compression on all cylinders was confirmed when the propeller was rotated by hand. Engine and electrical ignition continuity was confirmed. The fuel servo was removed for testing and fuel inflow line to the servo contained a liquid consistent with 100 LL aviation fuel was noted. The fuel servo was bench tested to the manufacturer's specifications. The fuel servo was within the specification for all of the tests parameters except at the idle fuel flow. The idle fuel flow was 14.5 - 15.0 lbs/hr. Test specifications for the fuel servo at and idle fuel flow are listed as 9.0-11.00 lbs/hr.

The Shadin Microflo Fuel Flow Indicator was sent to the manufacturer and downloaded under the supervision of the FAA. The unit did not have the capability to record fuel flow time history. The nonvolatile memory contained the following data:

Fuel Remaining; 44.9 gallons
Fuel Used: 49.1 gallons
Full Fuel: 94.0 gallons
K-Factor: 29800 PPG

The PA-32RT-300T, emergency procedures for a power off landing states that touchdowns should normally be made at lowest possible airspeed with full flaps.

The preflight checklist items include the draining of fuel tank sumps, checking for contaminant, and proper fuel.

The FAA and Textron Lycoming were parties to the investigation.

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