ERA09LA163
ERA09LA163

On February 11, 2009, at 1642 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-180, N55854, registered to KS Air Corporation, operating as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight, lost total engine power during the initial climb from Sky Manor Airport (N40), Pittstown, New Jersey. The airplane collided with trees and the ground, receiving structural damage to the airframe during the forced landing to a residential area. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The certificated commercial pilot received serious injuries. The pilot-rated passenger received minor injuries. The flight originated at 1640.

The pilot-rated passenger stated no anomalies were noted during the preflight inspection or engine run-up. He departed from runway 25 flying the airplane from the left front seat with the electric boost pump on. During initial takeoff climb, the fuel pressure gauge indicated zero. The engine sputtered, quit, and the pilot-rated passenger selected a forced landing area. The engine then started, and he started a shallow turn back to the airport. The engine quit again, he leveled the airplane and it collided with trees and the ground. A postcrash fire ensued in the engine compartment, and a resident extinguished the fire.

Review of the aircraft logbooks revealed the airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-360-A4A engine. The engine was field overhauled at tachometer 5,502 hours on May 5, 2004 and put into preserved storage until it was sold. The last annual inspection on the airplane was completed on January 9, 2009, at 5,502 tachometer hours. The tachometer at the crash site read 5,506.79 hours. The airplane had flown 4.79 hours since the last overhaul and annual inspection.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed the left wing was separated from the airplane, and the empennage received structural damage. Evidence of a small fire was observed near the air box and upper right rear section of the engine, near the magneto and magneto harness. Examination of the airframe and flight controls revealed no evidence of a precrash mechanical failure or malfunction.

The engine assembly to the airframe structure and was compressed against the lower aircraft firewall. The structural mounts were bent downward and the exhaust system was partially crushed. A lighted
borescope was used to examine the internal top end components. No preimpact anomalies were revealed. The spark plugs were removed and exhibited clean, light tan color combustion deposits. The crankshaft was rotated by hand and continuity of the crankshaft, camshaft, valve train, and accessory drives was established. Compression was present on all cylinders.

Examination of the lubrication system, induction system, carburetor, ignition system, magnetos, harness leads, and spark plugs revealed no anomalies. Fuel was present within all of the fuel lines and components forward of the gascolator on the firewall. During removal of the fuel system hoses to the carburetor, a loose fuel hose B-nut was found. No impact or fire damage was noted in the area.

The loose fuel hose B-nut was found to be one-half turn counterclockwise off from the torqued position. It was located at the fitting from the fuel line that runs from the engine driven fuel pump to the carburetor. All of the other fuel hose connections in the engine compartment were found tight and secure when examined or removed.

According to Lycoming Torque Value Recommendations (SSP1776), Pg. 2-23. Table IV, FLEXABLE HOSE OR TUBE FITTINGS: The required torque for a (-6), /3/8 Size is 35 in/lbs.

Representatives from the airplane manufacturer conducted a follow up fuel line leak test on another Piper PA28-181, on February 23, 2009. The model of airplane used for the test had its T-fitting located at the carburetor. The fuel supply selector and electric boost pump were turned on. The fuel pressure gauge indicated 4.5 pounds-per-square-inch (PSI). The fuel line B-nut located at the exit side of the engine driven fuel pump was loosened. The fuel pressure then dropped 1.5 PSI with a recording of 3 PSI for 5 seconds. Subsequently, fuel was observed leaking from the loosened B-nut.

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