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On October 30, 2004, about 1000 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 210A, N6675X, experienced a loss of engine power and collided with terrain during a forced landing on a residential street near North Las Vegas Airport, North Las Vegas, Nevada. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The private pilot and three passengers were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The personal local flight departed from North Las Vegas about 0915. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan had not been filed.
During a telephone conversation with a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, the pilot stated that after completing the en route portion of the flight, cruising about 3,500 feet mean sea level, he entered the proximity of North Las Vegas and configured the airplane for landing. As the airplane approached the airport, the air traffic controller cleared him to land on runway 30L. He maneuvered the airplane into a descent, while manipulating the throttle aft, reducing the manifold pressure to 18 inches. About 7 seconds later, the engine suddenly quit, leaving the propeller windmilling in front of him. He transmitted a radio announcement stating that he was experiencing a loss of engine power and would need to execute a forced landing.
The pilot further stated that he opted to make the forced landing on a residential street, which he thought was the only suitable surface for the landing. While the airplane glided toward the street, he made numerous attempts to restart the engine. After following the emergency checklist and switching tanks several times, the engine still failed to produce power and he maneuvered the airplane in-line with the street. Prior to the intended touchdown point, the airplane's left main landing gear impacted terrain and the left wing collided with obstacles, resulting in the airplane skidding down the road.
The pilot noted that during the entire flight the fuel selector was on the left fuel tank, which had full fuel prior to departure; the right fuel tank was 2/3 full. He stated that he was making the first flight after the airplane had undergone recent maintenance, which consisted of changing the oil cooler. He added that several months prior, while flying into Lemhi County Airport, Salmon, Idaho, the airplane had a similar engine loss of power. He stated that while on the base leg of the traffic pattern, the engine quit and he maneuvered the airplane to glide to the runway surface. After completing the landing without mishap, he attempted to restart the engine while on the ground; the engine failed to restart. A mechanic looked at the airplane and could not reproduce the failure, having no difficulty starting and running the engine.
The airplane was a Cessna 210A, serial number 21057675, which was manufactured in 1960, and purchased by the pilot on June 17, 2004. A review of the airplane's maintenance records revealed that the airframe had accumulated a total time in service of 2,143 hours. The most recent annual inspection was completed on June 17, 2004; 23 hours prior to the accident.
The power plant was a Teledyne Continental Motors IO-470-E, serial number 88626-7-E-R. According to the maintenance records, the engine had undergone an annual inspection on June 17, 2004, at which time the tachometer indicated the engine had accumulated 584.0 hours since the last overhaul, and 1,320 hours total time in service.
The airplane's fuel system consists of two bladder tanks located in the inboard section of both the left and right wing; both tanks have a capacity of 32.5 gallons, of which 1.5 gallons is unusable. Fuel from the selected tank leaves the bladder via a fuel line at the lower aft, inboard corner section of each fuel tank. The system is designed for the fuel to move down the fuel line, which is routed along the rear doorpost and goes the fuel selector valve (located in the cockpit, enabling the pilot to select the "left" "right" or "off" position). The fuel continues from the selector to the fuel strainer, passing by the auxiliary fuel pump, reaching the engine driven fuel pump and continuing to the fuel control unit, where it is metered and distributed to the fuel injector nozzles.
If a surplus of fuel develops at the fuel control unit the excess fuel is routed back to the engine driven fuel pump, where it is merged with fuel vapor. The excess fuel and vapor combination is routed through another fuel line back to the fuel selector valve, and continues up the vapor return line located on the forward doorpost to enter the selected fuel tank. The fuel vapor returned back to the fuel tank is never in contact with the fuel routed to the engine.
TEST AND RESEARCH
Under the auspices of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, representatives from both Teledyne Continental Motors and Cessna Aircraft conducted an engine run at Lone Mountain Aviation, Inc., Las Vegas, Nevada. The FAA inspector stated that they examined the fuel strainer, fuel distributor, and main throttle body filters with no anomalies noted. Investigators removed the top spark plugs, which were clean with no mechanical deformation. The spark plug electrodes were gray in color, which corresponded to normal operation according to the Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug AV-27 Chart.
In effort to perform the test run, investigators removed the bent propeller, replacing it with another propeller in serviceable condition. The engine started without difficulty and continued operation for about 20 minutes at various test points, while investigators monitored the metered and unmetered fuel pressure with a calibrated gauge. The engine was able to maintain an idle setting of 600 rpm, which produced a metered fuel pressure of 2 pounds per square inch (psi) and an unmetered pressure of 9.5 psi (both of which the Continental Motors representative said were in specifications). Investigators rapidly advanced the throttle to about the 1,800-rpm position, and the engine accelerated with no hesitation; a second acceleration response test produced the same results. The FAA inspector stated that there were no discrepancies that would have precluded the engine from being capable of producing power.