On March 20, 2004, about 1700 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-24-250 airplane, N6583R, received substantial damage when it collided with terrain about 12 miles northeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, during an emergency landing following a total loss of engine power in cruise flight. The airplane was being operated by the pilot as a visual flight rules (VFR) local personal flight under Title 14, CFR Part 91. The pilot and pilot-rated passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed Palm Beach County Park Airport, West Palm Beach, about 1520. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), on March 20, the pilot/owner said he was conducting the first flight in the airplane after its release from maintenance. He said the right main fuel tank had been replaced, and the right fuel tank selector had been reconditioned. Additionally, four engine cylinders had been replaced. The pilot/owner said he was flying with the left and right fuel tank selectors in the "main" position, presumably drawing fuel from both main tanks. He said he and the pilot-rated passenger discussed the lack of movement of the right fuel gauge indicator compared to the movement of the left fuel gauge indicator. The pilot/owner stated the right fuel gauge had always been "sluggish," and continued the flight to "run-in" the new engine cylinders. He said 80 minutes into the flight, about 1,200 feet agl, the airplane had a total loss of engine power, and emergency procedures failed to restart the engine. The pilot/owner said he requested the more experienced, commercial certificated flight instructor passenger to take the controls for the landing, which he did. The pilot on the controls selected a road for landing, but was unable to reach the road, and landed in a cultivated field. After landing, both pilots visually inspected the fuel tanks, and noted that the right main fuel tank was full, and the left main fuel tank was empty. The pilot/owner said the airplane sustained damage to both wings, fuselage, tail, landing gear, flaps, and propeller.
During an inspection of the airplane on March 20, the IIC disassembled the recently reconditioned right fuel selector valve. The fuel valve was installed on the selector stem 180 degrees out of the correct position, blocking fuel flow from the right main tank when in the "on" position, and allowing fuel flow only from the left main tank.