On November 10, 2004, about 1942 Pacific standard time (PST), a Cessna P210N, N6416W, experienced a total loss of engine power on approach to runway 22L at the Sacramento Mather Airport, Rancho Cordova, California. The pilot made a forced landing on a city street about 1.2 nautical miles northeast of the approach end of the airport's runway. During the landing flare, the airplane collided with trees and the roadway's center median. The airplane was substantially damaged. Neither the airline transport certificated pilot, who was operating the airplane, nor the passenger who was also a pilot, was injured during the nighttime business flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight was performed under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The nonstop flight originated from Roswell, New Mexico, about 1455 mountain standard time (1355 Pacific standard time). Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot and passenger provided written statements to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator regarding circumstances leading to the accident. In addition, the pilot supplemented his written statements with verbally reported information.
In pertinent part, the pilot, who holds a certified flight instructor (CFI) certificate, indicated that the airplane's main and tip tanks were refueled prior to their departure from Roswell. The airplane's owner/passenger was not a current pilot, and he had recently purchased the airplane. The owner had hired the pilot to fly the airplane from New Mexico to California. The pilot intended to make the flight, which would last nearly 6 hours, without an interim landing.
In pertinent part, the pilot submitted a written report to the Safety Board in which he indicated that en route, about 1740 PST (approximately 2 hours prior to the accident), the airplane's number 2 alternator failed. Thereafter, about 1900 PST, the number 1 alternator failed. The pilot continued the nighttime flight using the airplane's battery powered electrical system. The pilot further reported that he decided to land at the first available airport, which was in Rancho Cordova. The Mather Airport in Rancho Cordova is located nearly 10 nautical miles east-northeast of the Sacramento Executive Airport, which was the pilot's original intended destination. The pilot verbally reported to the Safety Board investigator that he was uncertain about the actual quantity of fuel on board when all engine power was lost. Unable to restore engine power or glide to the airport, the pilot made a forced landing on a street. Subsequently, the pilot verbally reported that the last alternator had probably failed about 1.5 hours prior to losing engine power. During the ensuing nighttime flight, "we flew with everything off."
At the Safety Board investigator's request a police officer, who responded to the accident scene within minutes of the crash, examined the status of the fuel in the airplane's undamaged two main fuel tanks and in the left wing's tip tank. The right wing's tip tank was reportedly impact damaged. The police officer stated that he was a pilot and was familiar with estimating fuel quantity. The officer stated that the main tanks looked "bone dry." The left wing tip tank had some fuel in it, which the officer estimated as being "about 1-inch deep."
Subsequently, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector verbally reported that the airplane had been recovered from the accident site and was thereafter examined in his presence. The FAA inspector ascertained that the left wing tip tank contained about 1 3/4 gallons of fuel, which was nearly all unusable.
The airplane's owner-passenger provided a detailed written statement to the Safety Board investigator regarding pertinent facts of the accident flight. In part, the owner reported that their original destination was the Colusa County Airport, Colusa, California. (Colusa is located about 50 nm northwest of Rancho Cordova.) The owner reported that en route, after the second alternator failed, the master switch was turned off to conserve residual battery power. Occasionally, the master switch was turned back on to check the amount of fuel remaining as indicated by the (electrically driven) Shadin fuel computer, and to provide navigation guidance information to the pilot. The owner reported that he mentioned to the pilot his concern regarding the accuracy of the fuel computer's indication since electric power to the computer had been interrupted.
The owner indicated that because of the pilot's concerns regarding having enough fuel to reach Colusa, the pilot opted to land at the Sacramento Executive Airport, his home base. For at least 1hour, they flew in darkness without any navigation lights illuminated. During this time the pilot flew south of the Lake Tahoe, California, area, and other cities having airports located east of Sacramento/Rancho Cordova. About 40 miles east of Sacramento, the owner turned on his flashlight, and observed the standard Cessna fuel gauges registered empty.
Subsequently, the owner examined the Shadin fuel computer's operator manual. He noted that when electrical power is interrupted and then restored to the computer, "it will resume accurate fuel flow reading, but the time remaining, fuel used, fuel remaining, gallons reserve, gallons to destination and all warnings will not be accurate...."