CEN11LA237
CEN11LA237

On March 18, 2011, about 1320 central daylight time, a Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam P2004 Bravo light sport airplane, N141AG, owned by US Aviation Group LLC and operated by Step Up Aviation LLC, sustained substantial damage when it impacted trees, a house, and terrain during a forced landing following an in-flight loss of engine power near Austin, Texas. The sport pilot and passenger reported no injuries. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated from the Llano Municipal Airport (AQO), near Llano, Texas, about 1235, and was en route to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), near Austin, Texas, when the loss of engine power occurred.

The pilot stated that he fully inspected the airplane during his preflight inspection. He said that he personally observed 14.5 to 15 gallons of fuel in the fuel tanks by using a "pre-measured stick" for this airplane and also confirmed the fuel reading on the fuel gauge. The pilot reported that it “was sufficient fuel” for the expected trip and enough fuel to exceed the “legal reserve.” He started the engine at 1020 and took off at 1040. He flew to AQO at 2,500 feet above mean sea level (MSL) with a power setting of 4,800 RPM and landed at AQO at 1130. According to the pilot, the operating handbook (POH) indicated that his fuel burn was 4.4 gallons per hour and his calculated total fuel burn for the flight to AQO was 4 gallons.

The pilot stated that he had lunch and returned to AQO. He said, “I believed I had at least 10 gallons of fuel, which was confirmed on gauges.” The pilot’s report did not indicate that he visually rechecked the fuel tanks at AQO with the pre-measured stick. The pilot started the airplane engine at 1230 and took off at 12:35. He flew the return flight at 2,500 feet MSL direct to AUS. He reported that he lost engine power at 1320 after receiving air traffic control vectors to AUS. The pilot said that the flight to AUS was 50 minutes of flight time and that the airplane “should have burned 4 gallons leaving 6 gallons.”

The pilot reported that he was unsure of why the engine stopped, but believed that it wasn't from fuel starvation. The pilot said the FAA drained 2 gallons of fuel from the aircraft well after the forced landing. After the airplane came to rest, fuel was leaking. The pilot was sure a good bit of fuel leaked out prior to the tanks being drained.

The airplane impacted trees, a house, and terrain near the intersection of Suena Drive and Vasquez Street about 325 degrees and 1.25 nautical miles from the AUS runway 17R threshold. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector examined the wreckage on-scene. The outboard section of the right wing, fuselage, and empennage sustained substantial damage. The inspector was able to recover fuel that he collected in a two-gallon container and he did not see any leaking fuel. There was some fuel found in one carburetor bowl and the other carburetor bowl did not have any fuel. The gascolator did not have any fuel. No preimpact anomalies were detected.

A first responder stated that there were no reported fuel leaks from the airplane and stated that he did not recall any fuel leaks.

According to the POH, the airplane was equipped with two integral wing fuel tanks, which each had a capacity of 13.2 gallons. The airplane had a total fuel capacity of 26.4 gallons of which 26.15 gallons was usable fuel. Excerpts from the performance charts indicated:

Pressure altitude Hp: 2000 ft OAT: +11°C
Engine RPM ... Consumption (gal/h) ...
4600 4
5000 4.8
5200 5.2

Pressure altitude Hp: 4000 ft OAT: +7°C
Engine RPM ... Consumption (gal/h) ...
4600 4
5000 4.5
5200 4.9

The POH had a warning in checklist procedures. The checklist, in part, stated:

WARNING
Fuel level indicated by the fuel quantity indicators (on the instrument
panel) is only indicative. For flight safety, pilot should verify actual fuel
quantity visually in tanks before takeoff.

At 1332, the recorded temperature and dew point at AUS was respectively 28 degrees C and 17 degrees C.

The carburetor icing probability chart from FAA Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin: CE-09-35 Carburetor Icing Prevention, June 30, 2009, shows a probability of serious icing at glide power at the local recorded temperature and dew point.

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