On October 10, 2009, about 1345 Pacific daylight time, a Special-Light Sport airplane, Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam P2004 Bravo, N649BV, experienced a loss of engine power while on final approach to runway 27 at Franklin Field Airport (F72), Franklin, California. Sterling Flight LLC, doing business as Sterling Flight, operated the airplane under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and student pilot were not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage when the nose landing gear was sheared off; the airplane nosed over and came to rest inverted. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the instructional flight that departed Buchanan Field Airport (CCR), Concord, California, at 1315. No flight plan had been filed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
In a written statement, the CFI stated that they took off with approximately 18 gallons of fuel, and at the time of the accident they had been flying about 25 minutes. While en route both pilots noted that the right fuel tank was indicating a higher fuel level, so they turned off the fuel switch on the pilot's side for the left fuel tank. Upon arrival at Franklin Field, they entered into the pattern for closed traffic. During the pre landing process, the CFI believed that he "toggled" a fuel tank switch in order to feed fuel from both tanks. They performed two uneventful touch-and-go takeoffs and landings. The CFI stated that on the third or fourth touch-and-go takeoff, the engine sputtered and quit; what he considered consistent to a fuel starvation failure. The CFI took the flight controls, and noted their altitude to be less than 150 feet. He continued straight ahead for a nearby field. As the flight approached the touchdown point, the CFI observed a barbed wire fence and adjusted the approach to clear the fence. The field was very rough, and he was not able to hold the nose wheel off the ground; when it touched down, it snapped off and the airplane came to rest inverted. The CFI further reported that the engine stopped "in a way that is consistent with fuel starvation – a second or two of sputter – not suddenly." The CFI opined that he may have inadvertently switched "off" the fuel tank that was on.
According to the student, they were going to perform touch-and-go takeoffs and landings at the accident airport. There were no problems with the first touch-and-go landing; however, on the second touch-and-go landing, he misjudged the landing distance, and performed a go-around. The student reported doing two more touch-and-go takeoffs and landings prior to the accident. On the landing prior to the accident, he reported that they were a bit higher than usual, but that it was not a concern to him. He informed the CFI that he intended to land the airplane; the CFI gave him approval to do so. They landed the airplane without incident, he added full throttle for takeoff without any noticeable problems. The airplane reached an altitude of about 150 feet and he began to hear "irregularities in the engine," which continued for a couple of seconds. The student reported that the engine slowed down, and then it returned to a full power setting. Shortly thereafter, the student stated that there was a complete engine failure and the propeller stopped spinning. The CFI took over the flight controls at the first sign of engine trouble. After the engine failed, the student reported that the CFI stated his intention to land in a field in front of the runway. The airplane descended rapidly, impacted the ground, and flipped over. The CFI exited the airplane and instructed the student to turn off all the electronics, the fuel, and the ignition. He attempted to turn off the pilot's side fuel selector, but found that it was already in the off position. The student recalls that the left side fuel selector was turned off during the flight. The copilot's fuel selector was in the on position, so he turned that off before he departed the airplane.