On January 5, 2005, at 1939 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-32-300, N364BW, registered to Race City Air, LLC, and operated by Package Express, collided onto a berm during emergency landing following a loss of engine power in Polkton, North Carolina. The domestic cargo flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 135 with an instrument flight plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The commercial pilot reported no injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight departed Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, about 1845 on January 5, 2005. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot stated he was in cruise flight at 6,000 feet when the engine sputtered. He stated he immediately switched from the right main fuel tank to the left main fuel tank and turned on the electric fuel boost pump, then the engine quit completely. The pilot stated he performed the engine restart procedures on the emergency checklist, but his attempts to restore engine power were unsuccessful. The pilot reported the problem to a Charlotte Approach air traffic controller, and the controller provided radar vectors to the nearest airport in Anson County, North Carolina. The pilot was unable to see the airport in the darkness, and he stated the airplane did not have sufficient altitude to glide the distance to it. The pilot glided the airplane toward a row of lights along what appeared to be an open area for emergency landing. The pilot could not see in the darkness that the terrain was not level, and he landed the airplane on an approximate 30-degree sloping berm along a prison perimeter fence.
Examination of the airplane revealed the nose landing gear was separated, the propeller was damaged, and the fuselage was buckled at the firewall. Post-accident examination of the airplane revealed the right main fuel tank was empty, the electric fuel boost pump operated, and no mechanical defect was determined. The airplane's engine was disassembled, inspected, reassembled, and test run for 2 hours 15 minutes with no mechanical malfunction observed. The engine was reinstalled, the airplane returned to service, and the engine again lost power during a subsequent flight on February 8, 2005.
Following the February 8, 2005, mishap, the airplane's fuel system accessories were removed for examination. Test bench examination of the airplane's engine-driven fuel pump, a Lear Romec model RG17980 upgraded to model RG17980D/M, revealed the unit rotated and operated, and flow test data could not be obtained due to excessive fuel leakage from the shaft seal at the drive end of the pump. Disassembly examination of the unit revealed the rotor seal at the pump's drive end was worn beyond manufacturer's specifications, and wear and damage to the rotor interface with the drive coupling were observed. A review of manufacturer's records revealed the unit was manufactured prior to 1989, and there was no record of factory upgrade or overhaul of the unit. Evidence of non-OEM-approved field alterations to the unit were observed.