DFW05LA165
DFW05LA165

On June 20, 2005, at 1826 central daylight time, a twin-engine Cessna 401A airplane, N7KF, was substantially damaged during a forced landing after a reported loss of engine power at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) near Houston, Texas. The commercial pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, sustained minor injures. The airplane was registered to a private individual and was being operated by Amigo Aviation of Harlingen, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 air cargo flight. The cross-country flight originated from the Corpus Christi International Airport (CRP), near Corpus Christi, Texas, at about 1715, and was destined for the William P. Hobby Airport.

During the approach, the pilot reported to the tower that he "had engine failure." The airplane landed short of runway 12R, and impacted two vehicles and a sign. The airplane came to rest in an upright position on airport property.

According to the pilot, prior to his departure from HOU he preformed a preflight inspection and visually verified all five fuel tanks were full of fuel. He then departed for CRP at about 0830, and the flight took approximately 1 hour for the 162 nautical mile cross-country flight. Prior to his return flight, he again checked the fuel and oil. He noted that he had 3 hours of fuel on board. He departed CRP about 1715 for the return flight to HOU. About 15 minutes after departure, the pilot stated he, "switched to the auxiliary tanks, which were full". He further stated, "after 10-15 minutes on taking fuel from the auxiliary tanks, I switched to the right locker tank." Shortly thereafter, ATC instructed him to start a descent, and he noticed he had approximately 30 gallons of fuel in each main tank. He then went through his checklist and switched to the main fuel tanks in preparation for his landing at HOU.

The pilot added that "during the approach the engines came out of sync, and the right engine began to sputter." As he was going through the engine failure checklist, "the left engine also started sputtering." The pilot switched the auxiliary fuel pumps to high; then changed from the main tanks to the auxiliary fuel tanks, "which had approximately 3 gallons of fuel left in them." The engines did not recover, and the pilot tried to avoid hitting surface traffic on a road near the end of the runway.

According to an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, who responded to the accident site, the airplane sustained structural damage to the left wing. Examination of the aircraft revealed both auxiliary fuel tanks were "dry", the right main fuel tank contained approximately 3 inches of fuel, and the left main tank was "dry", but had been breached during the forced landing. The right wing locker fuel tank was full of fuel, and the transfer switch was in the off position. The left fuel selector was found in the left auxiliary position and the right fuel selector was found in the right auxiliary position. The inspector also noted that the main fuel line on the right engine had no fuel in it, and the line to the fuel manifold valve was empty as well. The left hand main fuel line only had a "couple teaspoons" of fuel in it and the fuel line to the left fuel manifold valve was found to be absent of fuel. The inspector also noted that both propellers were not feathered, and had indications of "no power".

This Cessna 401A was equipped with 5 fuel tanks, for a total of 160 gallons of useable fuel; two main fuel tanks, two auxiliary tanks, and a single wing locker tank. A review of the Owners Manual describes that fuel is supplied to the engine, by a main tank located on each wing tip (50 gallons), or an auxiliary tank (20 gallons) in each wing. The respective fuel valve selector directs fuel to the engine, from either the auxiliary or main fuel tank position. The right wing locker tank (20 gallons useable) has no separate fuel selector control. Fuel from the wing locker is pumped directly into the right main tank with a fuel transfer pump.

The 1,607-hour commercial pilot reported to have accumulated a total of 221 hours in twin-engine airplanes, of which 92 hours were in the same make and model airplane.

At 1753, the automated weather observing system at HOU, reported wind from 050 degrees at 10 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, few clouds at 6,500 feet, temperature 90 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.98 inches of Mercury.

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