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On September 15, 2007, about 1050 eastern daylight time, a Beech C-90, N515KJ, was substantially damaged during a forced landing at Cypress Lake Airport (GA35), Bloomingdale, Georgia. The certificated airline transport pilot was not injured. The positioning flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site, and the flight operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan.
According to the pilot, he began a series of flights with an initial fuel load of 2,611 pounds, and did not refuel between those flights. The accident flight was the fourth flight in the series. According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot stated that he started the accident flight with 500 pounds of fuel, which the pilot "felt" was sufficient for the flight. The pilot determined the onboard fuel quantity by referring to the fuel quantity gauges. The pilot also stated that the right fuel quantity indicator "consistently reads two hundred pounds less than the left" fuel quantity indicator, and that it "flutters in flight sweeping from 0-1200 pounds before settling on the fuel remaining."
The pilot stated that the flight departed Blairsville Airport (46A), Blairsville, Georgia about 0955. While climbing out after takeoff, the "no fuel transfer" light illuminated, indicating to him that all of the fuel in the wing tanks had been consumed, leaving only the fuel in the nacelle tanks. Approximately 60 miles from the destination, the pilot notified air traffic control that he had fuel concerns, and requested priority handling. He "knew" he had approximately 400 pounds of fuel left at this point. While descending through 3,200 feet, the pilot noticed that the fuel indicators displayed a total fuel quantity of 100 pounds, so he declared a "fuel emergency." Approximately 12 miles from the airport, the indicated fuel quantity was 50 pounds. A short time later the left engine, and then the right engine, lost power.
The pilot received radar vectors to GA35, which was a turf strip 2,700 feet long. He was able to see the airport through breaks in the cloud layer. The pilot maintained a descent rate of approximately 2,500 feet per minute, and approximately 150 feet above ground level, he reduced the descent rate and "adopted a normal landing attitude." On touchdown, the pilot applied full braking. Due to the wet grass conditions, the airplane slid the remaining length of the runway, traveled down an embankment, and impacted trees. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing leading edge and spar, and to the left engine nacelle.
The pilot stated that he was not aware of any mechanical irregularities with the airplane, other than the fuel quantity indication discrepancy. In his written statement, the pilot stated that he suspected that "a check valve in the #2 engine driven fuel pump has failed and allowed as much fuel to drain overboard as it provided to the right engine." According to the FAA inspector who examined the airplane on scene, no mechanical deficiencies were detected. The airplane was then moved to a maintenance facility for repair. The mechanic who inspected the airplane after recovery stated that there was no usable fuel in the airplane's fuel system and there was no evidence of inflight fuel leakage. His tests of the fuel system showed it operated normally.
The pilot reported 3,226 hours of total flight experience, which included approximately 285 hours in the accident airplane make and model. He held an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane multiengine land rating, and a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument helicopter ratings. The pilot's most recent second-class FAA medical certificate was issued in August 2007, and his most recent flight review was accomplished in January 2007.
The 1053 weather observation, at an airport located approximately 9 miles east of the accident airport, reported winds from 300 degrees at 5 knots, broken cloud layer at 1,200 feet, overcast cloud layer at 1,700 feet, 10 miles visibility, temperature 26 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 24 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.02 inches of mercury.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
A review of the flight planning and cruise control information in the C90 Pilot's Operating Manual (POM) indicated that the fuel consumption rate in cruise at altitudes and weights representative of the each of the four flights, would have been approximately 443 pounds per hour, with a true airspeed of 217 knots. The pilot reported that prior to the flight, for his planning purposes, he utilized an overall fuel consumption rate of 400 pounds per hour, with an airspeed of 230 knots. The pilot did not specify whether this was indicated or true airspeed.
Calculations based on the flight planning and cruise control information in the C90 POM, and which accounted for taxi-out, climb, cruise, descent and taxi-in, yielded total fuel consumption values of 546, 540, 638 and 554 pounds for each of the four flights, resulting in a total calculated fuel consumption of 2,278 pounds. Post-accident values provided by the pilot for these four legs were 402, 380, 402 and 380 pounds respectively, resulting in a total pilot-calculated fuel consumption of 1,564 pounds. The C90 POM specified a total usable fuel capacity of 384 gallons, or approximately 2,572 pounds.
A teardown inspection report for the engine driven fuel pump from the right engine noted that the fuel pump "meets test requirements but will not be certified because of internal wear."