ERA11LA198
ERA11LA198

On March 19, 2011, about 2045 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300, N2027M, experienced a loss of engine power and force landed on a beach near Martha's Vineyard Airport (MVY), Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The private pilot and one passenger had minor injuries. The flight originated from Hyannis, Massachusetts (HYA) about 2020.

The pilot reported that he was approaching runway 24 at MVY when the engine lost power and quit. Unable to reach the runway, he made a forced landing on a beach. The airplane struck a piling and came to rest in knee-deep water.

Initial examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the fuel tank selector valve was on the right tank position. The right wing fuel tank was compromised by impact forces. After recovery of the airplane from the beach, 20 gallons of seawater were drained from the right wing; there was no fuel present.

The wreckage was moved to a nearby hangar where a more detailed examination of the airplane was performed. The wings and empennage received structural damage. A visual examination of the engine did not revealed any evidence of a mechanical failure or malfunction. The following fuel lines were removed and no fuel was found inside the lines: fuel tanks to engine firewall, firewall to fuel pump, fuel pump to fuel control, fuel control to fuel distribution valve, and fuel distribution valve to fuel injectors.

The pilot reported, in an interview with FAA inspectors, that the wing tank gauges registered half full of fuel when he departed HYA. He also reported that he experienced a fuel starvation event about three years prior, while taxiing. He recalled that the fuel tanks registered one quarter full on the gauges; however, the tank that was being used at the time was found to be empty. He could not recall which tank was empty, nor could he remember if any corrective maintenance was performed on the fuel indicating system.

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