CEN09LA143
CEN09LA143

On January 23, 2009, at 1554 central standard time, a Cessna 172E, N5420T, was substantially damaged upon impact with terrain during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Plano, Texas. The private pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight originated from a private airfield near Powderly, Texas, and was en route to the Dallas Air Park (F69), Dallas, Texas.

While en route to the destination airport, the pilot informed air traffic controllers that he had experienced an engine failure and was attempting to restart the engine. Unable to get the engine restarted, the pilot performed a forced landing to a golf course. During the landing roll, the airplane entered a sand bunker which buckled the nose landing gear. The airplane came to rest nose low in the bunker and substantial damage was sustained to the engine firewall. The pilot and passenger were able to egress the airplane normally.

In a telephone interview with the pilot, the airplane was last "topped off" two days prior to the accident at Cobb's Field (PRX), Paris, Texas. The pilot flew the airplane from PRX to Parker County Airport (WEA), Weatherford, Texas, and later from WEA to a private airstrip near Powderly, Texas. The pilot estimates that he flew between 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 hours and used about 20 to 22 gallons of fuel before departing the private airstrip. The pilot added that he departed the private airstrip with 17 gallons and flew approximately 50 to 55 minutes en route towards F69 before encountering the loss of engine power. The pilot normally plane a rate of consumption of 8 gallons of fuel per hour.

Upon recovery of the airplane, approximately 3 gallons of fuel was recovered from the airplane. A small, unmeasured amount of fuel drained from the airplane's fuel lines during disassembly. An on-scene examination of the airplane by a responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector did not identify a fuel leak from the fuel tanks, or fuel residue from the fuel tank drains. In a telephone interview with the golf course manager, he stated that the sand bunker had been examined and was found free of fuel contamination.

An engine run was conducted under the supervision of the NTSB and the FAA. The engine remained attached to the airplane via the engine mounts. The airplane wings were previously removed for transportation and remained removed. A fuel container was installed that fed fuel to the fuel lines located at the left and right wing attachment points. The engine was controlled via the controls located in the cockpit.

The gascolator was found approximately 1/3 full of fuel. The carburetor, with the fuel lines still attached, was examined and found to have a broken attachment flange; the carburetor was removed and replaced with a test carburetor. The engine was fitted with the test carburetor and a replacement propeller. The engine started and ran without any anomaly at various throttle settings. The fuel tanks were selected through BOTH, LEFT, and RIGHT before returning to BOTH without any hesitation in the production of engine power. Magneto drops were between 50 to 75 rpm per magneto.

The accident carburetor was turned upside-down to allow the drainage of any fuel. Only a few drops were observed to drain from the carburetor. A temporary repair was applied to the original carburetor. A second engine run was conducted with the repaired carburetor; again, the engine started and ran without any anomaly at various throttle settings. The fuel tanks were selected through BOTH, LEFT, and RIGHT before returning to BOTH without any hesitation in the production of engine power.

A review of the airplane's type certificate data sheet revealed that the unusable fuel in a Cessna 172E is 3 gallons. Attempts to obtain a completed Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1) from the pilot were unsuccessful.

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