IAD03LA025
IAD03LA025

On January 5, 2003, at 1315 eastern standard time, a Mooney M20J, N1074Z, was substantially damaged during a forced landing, shortly after takeoff from Morristown Municipal Airport (MMU), Morristown, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot and the passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, he performed an extensive preflight inspection, during which, he cleared a significant amount of ice from the airplane. Water had accumulated near the fuel caps on the wings; however, he was confident that he had cleared all of it from the surface prior to start-up. He additionally sumped the fuel tanks and checked the air filters, noting no water or contamination.

The pilot performed a run-up inspection prior to departure, and observed no abnormalities. He departed from runway 23, and retracted the landing gear during the initial climb. When the airplane reached an altitude of about 700 feet, the engine "sputtered and lost power." The pilot immediately initiated a right turn back toward the airport, and prepared for a forced landing on taxiway D. During the turn, he attempted unsuccessfully to restart the engine, and after he cleared trees on final approach, he extended the landing gear.

During the landing, the airplane's left main landing gear collapsed, the left wing hit the ground, and the airplane slid to a stop.

The pilot reported that the airplane was re-fueled to "full tanks" prior to takeoff from Morristown.

The airplane was examined while on the ramp, shortly after the accident, under the direction of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector. Examination of the fuel tanks revealed they were full; however, only a trace of fuel was observed in the fuel filter bowl. The fuel tanks were then sumped, and the fuel flow was observed to be lower than normal, although no water or ice was observed.

The airplane was thawed in a hangar overnight and the fuel tanks were sumped again. The fuel flow was then observed to increase. The engine was test run on the airframe, and it started without hesitation and ran continuously at various power settings for several minutes.

Weather reported at the Essex County Airport (CDW), Caldwell, New Jersey, 8 nautical miles to the northeast, at 1253, included winds from 190 degrees at 4 knots, overcast clouds at 2,700 feet, temperature 34 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and altimeter setting 30.08 inches Hg. The low temperature reported on the night prior to the accident was 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and the dew point was 28 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, light snow and mist were reported throughout the night.

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