CEN11FA292
CEN11FA292

On April 16, 2011, about 1415 central daylight time, a Piper PA-22/20, N3621Z, was substantially damaged during a forced landing, following a loss of engine power after takeoff from the Lakefront Airport (NEW), New Orleans, Louisiana. The private pilot, the sole occupant, sustained minor injuries, and reportedly the driver of a struck vehicle was not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan had not been filed for the flight destined for the Saint Charles Airport (LS40), Ama, Louisiana, which began around 1400.

According to the pilot, after a morning of local flying he dropped off a passenger at NEW and departed for LS40. After takeoff, the airplane's engine began to run "extremely rough." The pilot stated that he switched the airplane's fuel selector from the left fuel tank, to the right fuel tank, and then back to the left tank position. The pilot further reported that when he pumped the engine's primer it appeared to help, but being at a low altitude and descending, he focused on landing the airplane. During the ensuing forced landing to a road, the airplane's right wing impacted a moving minivan. The airplane's right main landing gear collapsed and the airplane came to rest in an upright and right wing low position. A post accident examination of the airplane at the scene showed the airplane's right wing spars were bent upward and aft. There was a small amount of fuel over the left sump of the left wing tank. The right wing tank was full of fuel. The fuel selector was on the left fuel tank. The airplane wreckage was retained for further examination.

The airplane was examined at Marrero, Louisiana, on April 18, 2011. The airplane’s engine showed no anomalies that would have precluded its normal operation. During the examination, the pilot, who was present, said that he’d been operating the engine with fuel from the left tank all that day. He said that he didn’t switch fuel tanks because he’d flown a number of short “hops” [flights] that day. He said his usual practice was to takeoff with the engine feeding from the left tank, and after the airplane was leveled off and stable in the air, he would select the right tank from which the engine would feed. On the day of the accident, he had forgotten to switch tanks. He had just taken off and was about 400 feet above ground level when he lost power. When he couldn’t get the engine to catch after switching tanks, he committed to the landing.

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