On November 5, 2009, about 1534 eastern standard time, a Grumman G-111, N120FB, was substantially damaged during a forced landing, following a total loss of power in the left engine shortly after takeoff from St. Lucie County International Airport (FPR), Ft. Pierce, FL. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The intended destination for the flight was Okeechobee County Airport (OBE), Okeechobee, FL. The two pilots received no injuries and one additional crew member received minor injuries. The ferry flight was conducted under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
An eyewitness reported seeing the airplane depart from runway 32 and become airborne near the intersection of taxiway "C7." While the witness observed the landing gear begin to retract, the left engine began emitting several "loud pops" then white colored smoke began to discharge from the exhaust. The witness reported hearing an increase in engine noise and observed the airplane begin a left turn. The airplane then impacted terrain, went through an airport boundary fence, and came to rest near an airport service road. Upon arrival at the accident location, the witness observed fuel coming out of the right wing and assisted the occupants in exiting the airplane.
In an interview with the Safety Board the captain reported that while on the runway preparing for takeoff, they advanced the power levers to achieve 30 inches of manifold pressure, checked all the engine gauges, then advanced the power levers to 40 inches of manifold pressure, released the brakes, and "preformed a normal takeoff." During the initial climb, the captain commanded the gear to be retracted, shortly after the gear handle was placed in the "UP" position; he heard a loud "bang followed by three to four smaller bangs." The captain commanded the checklist to be run for an engine failure in flight. The first officer confirmed that the left engine was the affected engine and immediately began feathering the propeller. Once the propeller had been feathered, the captain confirmed the action by looking outside and noticing the propeller in the feather position. According to the first officer the airspeed had "stagnated around 95 knots" and he increased the power levers to 52 inches of manifold pressure. The airplane still did not accelerate and was turning slightly to the left, the airplane continued to turn slightly to the left as though they were "on the backside of the power curve."
Unable to achieve an airspeed of greater than 95 ¬to 96 knots indicated, the crew confirmed that the gear and flaps were in the retracted or "UP" position; however, the captain was unable to center the slip/skid indicator completely. During the attempt to return to the airport for an emergency landing the airplane was unable to maintain altitude and the captain attempted to land on an airport perimeter road, impacting an airport fence and a sand berm in the process. After the airplane came to rest, the captain shut down the engines, fuel pumps, and other items required to secure the airplane. As he exited the aircraft, he saw fuel coming out of the right wing onto the ground. The airplane had been fueled on October 29, 2009 with 284 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel. The captain further reported that both engines had approximately 3 hours since overhaul and that the airplane's takeoff weight was approximately 27,100 pounds.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector that responded to the accident scene reported the left engine propeller was in the feathered position, the right engine exhibited little damage, approximately 150 gallons of fuel was removed from the left fuel tanks and fuel samples were taken from both engines. The fuel samples indicated 100LL fuel and contained no water or contaminants present. The right wing tank had been breeched during the accident sequence and there was no fuel present, however an estimated 150 gallons of fuel had spilled on the ground under the right wing. Control continuity was unable to be verified due to the damage to the underside of the airplane. A cursory examination of the engine and system components by the FAA inspector revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction. The inspector calculated that the maximum allowable takeoff weight was 30,605 pounds.
According to the captain, age 58, and FAA records, he held an airline transport pilot certificate, with ratings for single-engine land and sea, multiengine land and sea, including a type rating for the accident airplane. His most recent FAA first-class medical was issued January 22, 2009. The pilot reported 9,095 total hours of flight experience, 14 total hours of flight experience in the accident airplane make and model, and 3 total hours of flight experience as pilot in command in the accident airplane make and model.
According to the First Officer, age 70, and FAA records, he held an airline transport pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane multiengine land and sea including a type rating for the accident airplane, a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land and rotorcraft-gyroplane, and a private pilot certificate with a rating for glider. His most recent FAA first-class medical was issued October 6, 2009. He reported a total flight time of 11,500 hours of flight experience.
The airplane was issued an airworthiness certificate by the FAA on July 21, 1983 and was registered to the owner on October 1, 2007. It was equipped with two Curtiss-Wright engines that had undergone major overhauls on February 29, 2008. An entry dated October 12, 2009 indicated that the airframe had a total time in service of 3,747.1 hours and the engines had 3.1 hours since major overhaul. On November 5, 2009 the airplane was issued a special flight permit to conduct the flight to OBE.
The 1553 recorded weather observation at FPR included winds from 360 degrees at 9 knots with gusts of 14 knots; visibility 10 miles, broken cloud layer at 4,000 feet above ground level, temperature 25 degrees C, dew point 16 degrees C, altimeter of 30.11 inches of mercury.