WPR10LA053
WPR10LA053

On November 10, 2009, about 1735 Pacific standard time, a Beech 35-B33, N9617Y, made a forced landing short of runway 13L at Chico Municipal Airport, Chico, California. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The certificated private pilot and one passenger sustained minor injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and right wing from impact forces. The cross-country personal flight departed Portland, Oregon, about 1430, with Chico as a planned fuel stop. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed.

The pilot stated that the fuel tanks were topped off at Portland, and she switched tanks every 30 minutes during the flight. She switched to the fullest tank (left) while completing the pre-landing checklist on approach to Chico.

The pilot was cleared inbound for a straight in approach to runway 13L. She stated that she was on a stable glide path with the landing gear and flaps down, mixture rich, and propeller in. On final approach at 100 feet above ground level (agl), the engine lost power. She was initially restrained by her shoulder harness, but was able to move and switched to the right fuel tank; the engine did not respond. The last row of the runway approach lights were in her path, so she raised the flaps. She tried, but was not sure that she activated the fuel boost pump, because she had to maneuver away from the approach lights. As the airplane banked to the right, the wing tip dug in, and the airplane cartwheeled to the right before coming to a stop.

The airplane touched down about 200 yards short of the runway on airport property. The pilot stated that the windscreen was broken, the doors were jammed, and the pilot window was broken. The two occupants had to break remaining pieces from the pilot window in order to exit the airplane.

First responders reported that the airplane came to rest nose down with the tail about 20 feet in the air. The magnetos and battery switch were still on. They observed a fuel and oil leak from the engine. The emergency locator transmitter (ELT) was on, and could not be shut off by the reset button on the instrument panel. The right wing was damaged; they observed no fuel in it, and could not determine if fuel had leaked out during the impact sequence. They drained 12.5 gallons of fuel from the left wing tank, but could not determine how much fuel remained in the tank, because of the steep angle of the wing.

TEST AND RESEARCH

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and Teledyne Continental Motors examined the wreckage at a recovery facility.

Airframe

A visual examination revealed that the left and right main fuel tanks were not breached. The fuel selector valve (FSV) was positioned to the right main tank. The FSV moved freely from the right to the left and to the OFF positions. The boost pump was in the ON position.

Approximately 10 gallons of a blue fluid that smelled like aviation fuel was drained from the right tank. Fluid that smelled like aviation fuel was drained from the gascolator; the screen was clean.

Fuel check valves in both wings and in the engine compartment worked properly. The vents were open. The fuel line was disconnected at the selector valve, air was blown through the line, and fluid came out of the fuel line to the inlet side of the fuel pump in the engine compartment.

Engine

The engine separated in the collision sequence. The spark plugs were removed and all appeared clean with no mechanical deformation. The spark plug electrodes were elliptical, slightly oily, and gray, which corresponded to normal operation according to the Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug AV-27 Chart.

A borescope inspection revealed no mechanical deformation on the valves, cylinder walls, or internal cylinder head.

The crankshaft was manually rotated with the propeller. The crankshaft rotated freely, and the valves moved in firing order. The gears in the accessory case turned freely. Thumb compression was obtained on all cylinders in firing order.

The magnetos were manually rotated, and both magnetos produced spark at all posts.

The engine driven fuel pump drive gear was undamaged, and the pump rotated freely. The fuel pump functionally tested satisfactory; fluid flowed freely through the pump with rotation. Liquid was in the fuel distribution valve. The rubber diaphragm in the fuel distribution valve was unbroken, the screen was clean, and no contaminants were observed. The fuel injector nozzles for cylinders number one, two, and three were clean; nozzles four, five, and six were oily. The fuel control screen was clear.

No anomalies were noted that would have precluded normal operation.

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