WPR10LA408
WPR10LA408

On August 16, 2010, about 1415 hours Pacific daylight time, a Beech V35B, N67311, experienced a loss of engine power, and the pilot made a forced landing in an open field 2 miles south of Sacramento International Airport (SMF), Sacramento, California. Rosemead Properties, Inc., operated the airplane under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a cross-country flight. The pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage after it collided with power lines and impacted terrain during the forced landing. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed the El Monte Airport (EMT), El Monte, California, at 1211. No flight plan had been filed for the flight to University Airport (EDU), Davis, California.

In the pilot's written report (National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) pilot/operator aircraft accident/incident report form 6120.1), he reported that he had refueled the airplane with 25.2 gallons of fuel for a total of more than 70 gallons of fuel. He departed EMT with the fuel selector on the left fuel tank; approximately 1 hour into the flight he switched to the right fuel tank. The pilot reported his cruise altitude was 6,500 feet. After passing over Stockton, California, he descended to 4,500 feet. The pilot reported reaching the Sacramento VOR (very-high frequency omni-directional range), before turning to a heading of 276 degrees, and started his descent for landing at EDU.

The pilot stated that he switched back to the left fuel tank in preparation for landing, and noted that both fuel tanks were indicating 1/2 full. Shortly thereafter, the engine quit. The pilot switched the fuel selector back to the right fuel tank and attempted to restart the engine. After an unsuccessful restart attempt, the pilot decided to make a forced landing in open field near SMF due to inhospitable terrain if he continued to EDU. The pilot stated that the airplane crossed over trees; he did not have time to lower the landing gear before the airplane stuck a power line. The airplane landed hard in a wings level attitude. The pilot exited the airplane, and upon inspection of the airplane saw fuel stains on the left wing, and opined that fuel had been venting from the left fuel tank. He reported this information to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector that responded to the accident site.

In the recommendation section of the pilot/operator report, the pilot stated that if the gas cap had been better secured it would have prevented fuel from venting.

The FAA inspector who responded to the accident site observed fuel staining along the left wing that originated from the fuel cap. There were no other anomalies noted with the airplane during the on-scene inspection. The FAA inspector reported that during his interview with the pilot, the pilot stated that after takeoff he observed fuel leaking from the fuel cap.

During the recovery of the airplane, recovery personnel recovered about 1.5 gallons of fuel, and reported that the fuel tanks had not been breached during the accident sequence.

An examination of the airframe and engine was performed at Plain Parts, Pleasant Grove, California, on August 20, 2010, by the NTSB investigator in charge (IIC), and a representative from Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM), a party to the investigation. To facilitate transportation of the airplane to the storage facility, both wings had to be removed. Upon inspection of the left wing there was no visible fuel staining evident. Visual examination of the engine revealed no obvious holes to the crankcase. The engine remained attached to the engine mounts and airframe. Manual rotation of the crankshaft via the propeller assembly established valve and drive train continuity; thumb compression in all cylinders was also obtained in proper firing order. Both magnetos remained attached in their respective relative positions. During manual rotation of the crankshaft, the magneto impulse couplings engaged and spark was obtained at each ignition lead end. The upper spark plugs were removed and exhibited wear signatures consistent with a worn out – normal appearance as identified by the Champion check-a-plug Chart AV-27; the electrodes had a light amount of gray deposits visible on them. The fuel pump was removed, inspected, and functionally checked. The fuel pump was undamaged with the drive coupling intact; the drive shaft rotated freely by hand. The functional check was facilitated by the use of an electric drill; fuel flowed freely from the pump when activated. The fuel manifold valve was removed and disassembled. The fuel system was undamaged and clear of debris. There were no mechanical abnormalities found that would have precluded normal operation.

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