On August 10, 2010, at 0155 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-44-180, N730FT, registered to Jules Aircraft Company, and operated by Orlando Flight Academy, doing business as Space Coast Aviation, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain while maneuvering for landing at the Heart of Georgia Regional Airport (EZM), Eastman, Georgia. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. The certificated flight instructor (CFI), private pilot receiving instruction, and pilot rated passenger reported minor injuries. The flight originated from St. Augustine Airport (SGJ,) St. Augustine, Florida, about 0000. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot receiving instruction stated he was on final approach to runway 2 at EZM. The precision approach path indicator (PAPI) indicated the airplane was low on the approach. He added power, lowered the landing gear and added "a notch of flaps." About four miles from the airport the PAPI indicated the airplane was again low on glide path. He added power, and the left engine failed. The pilot initiated the engine failure emergency checklist. The right engine started losing power and the CFI took control of the airplane. The pilot verified that the fuel pumps were on and that the fuel selector was in the "ON" position. However, after the accident he did not turn "OFF" the fuel selector valve.
The CFI stated the fuel tanks were filled to "within an inch of the filler neck," before departing SGJ. The flight climbed to their cruising altitude of 6,500 mean sea levels (msl) which was uneventful. The pilot initiated a "powered descent" through 3,000 feet msl. The mixture was increased to full rich and the fuel pumps were selected "ON." The CFI noticed the pilot performing the engine failure checklist and immediately took control of the airplane. He initiated an engine restart which was unsuccessful. The airplane struck several trees and came to rest inverted at the edge of a swamp. After impact he ordered the student to secure the airplane and verify that the fuel was off.
According to the pilots and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the CFI, age 27, held a commercial pilot and flight instructor certificate each with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent application for an FAA first-class medical certificate was issued on October 22, 2007. He reported a total flight experience of 968 hours; 90 total hours of flight experience in airplane multiengine, of which 35 hours were in the accident airplane make and model. The student pilot, age 23, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA first-class medical certificate was issued on November 9, 2009. He reported a total flight experience of 230 hours, of which 9 total hours of flight experience was in the accident airplane make and model.
According to the CFI and FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1978 as a four-seat, low-wing airplane with retractable landing gear and was powered by a Lycoming LO-360-E1AED, 180-horsepower engine on the right side. The left side engine was an O-360-E1AED, 180-horsepower engine. The airplane's most recent 100-hour inspection was conducted on August 3, 2010. At the time of the accident the airplane had 6,742 total hours in service. Both engines had been inspected 31 flight hours prior to the accident. The left engine had 1,631 total hours since overhaul and the right engine had 2,605 total hours since overhaul.
According to an FAA inspector that responded to the accident location, the right wing was damaged and the right fuel tank had been breached. The left fuel tank remained attached, and according to a written statement provided by the salvage company 20 gallons of fuel was extracted from the left wing fuel tank.
The airplane was examined at a salvage facility near Griffin, Georgia, on August 13, 2010, by representatives from the airframe manufacturer, engine manufacturer, and the FAA. According to information provided by the FAA, flight control continuity was confirmed to all control surfaces. The fuel selector valves were both in the "OFF" position. The engine gas temperature (EGT) gauge was placarded "INOP." The engines were examined and rotated by hand, the compression was verified on all cylinders, the two magnetos on both engines produced spark at all leads. The spark plugs were removed and normal in appearance. The right engine plugs were noted as lighter in color than the left engine plugs. Approximately 1 to 2 ounces of blue fluid consistent with 100 LL aviation fuel was observed in both carburetors. The engine driven and electrical fuel pumps were tested and operated normally.
According to a signed written statement provided by the flight school's assistant Chief Flight Instructor, the rear seat passenger/observer was placed in the backseat of another flight school's PA-44 and was requested to sit in the exact position that she could recall. The passenger could not recall the exact location of her feet; however, did report that she had just awoken prior to the dual engine failure. A scenario was simulated having her place her legs in front of her between the two front seats. While wearing the exact shoes as she had worn on the accident flight, "…she pulled her foot out [and] she was able to turn both fuel selectors off without purposely trying to do so."
According to the PA-44-180 Seminole Pilots Operating Handbook, Chapter 3, Emergency Procedures, "ENGINE SECURING PROCEDURE" and "AIR START (UNFEATHERING PROCEDURE)" the fuel selector was to be in the "ON" position.