On May 4, 2008, at 1440 eastern daylight time, a special light sport aircraft (S-LSA), Higher Class Aviation Sport Hornet, N104HC, registered to an individual, had a loss of engine power near Appling, Georgia. The sport pilot reported no injuries and the airplane incurred substantial damage. The flight was operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, and no flight plan was filed.

The pilot stated that he topped off the wing tanks during his preflight inspection. He then departed the Edgefield County Airport (6J6), Trenton, South Carolina, at 1315 eastern daylight time to fly to a recreation area where he circled over a lake for approximately one hour. As he departed the area to return to 6J6, he noticed the fuel flow warning light from the electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) was on. He turned on the electrical fuel boost pump in an attempt to stabilize fuel flow; it was fluctuating from 2 to 12 gallons per hour. Shortly after, the airplane had a total loss of engine power. The pilot was able to restart the engine, but it ran for only 30 seconds before losing power again. He then set up for a force landing at the waters edge, descending at about 45 to 50 knots indicated airspeed. As the airplane touched down it continued up a bank until the nose wheel buried itself in soft sand and gravel, causing the airplane to nose over.

Shortly before the loss of engine power, the pilot did perform numerous turning maneuvers with bank angles varying between 20 and 45 degrees. After the loss of engine power, he cupped his hands around the header low fuel warning light and noted that it was illuminated and was unaware how long it was on for. According to the airplane manufacture, the two wing tanks drain into a header tank which contains a float switch for the low fuel warning light. When the fuel level in the header tank drops one inch, this light illuminates. Once the light initially illuminates there should be sufficient fuel supply for 20 to 30 minutes of continued flight.

As per the engine manufacturer, at maximum engine power, the fuel burn is 6.9 gallons per hour (GPH). The pilot provided a record from memory of various power settings used throughout the flight, corresponding to fuel burns between 3.8 and 6.6 GPH. The pilot reported the flight lasted approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes, for an estimated 8 gallons of fuel burn. The airplaneā€™s fuel tanks hold a total of 18 gallons of fuel, with two gallons of those unusable.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular (AC) 90-89A, page 23, the available fuel flow required for a 100 horse power engine, utilizing a gravity fed fuel system, is 13.7 GPH and if utilizing a pressurized system, it requires 11.5 GPH of fuel flow. Testing done by the airplane manufacture revealed the fuel flow into the header tank would be at a minimum between 30 and 45 degrees of bank, but would still be at least 13.8 GPH. Fuel flow between the header tank and engine with the boost pump would be a constant 22 GPH.

The airplane wreckage was examined by a FAA inspector. The fuel system contained no leaks, and no anomalies were observed with any of the fuel lines or fittings. Fuel was noted in both the left and right fuel tanks. No internal or external damage was observed to the engine. The engine was run for approximately 5 minutes with an external fuel supply.

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