On April 20, 2012, at 1626 eastern daylight time, a Hawker-Beechcraft Corporation A36, N821SM, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power during cruise flight in Yorktown, New York. The certificated private pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries. The flight departed Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, New Jersey about 1600, and was destined for Norwood Memorial Airport (OWD), Norwood, Massachusetts. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
In a written statement, the pilot stated that the airplane was in cruise flight at 7,000 feet when the engine lost power. He requested vectors to the nearest airport, but determined the airplane would not reach the requested landing site. He selected a forced landing site on the IBM corporate campus in Yorktown, and completed the forced landing, which resulted in substantial damage to the airplane. During the descent, he stated that he performed remedial actions in accordance with the checklist, and switched the fuel selector from the right tank position to the left tank. He added that the engine would surge during the descent but would not produce sufficient power to maintain altitude. In an interview with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot stated that he did not consult a checklist during the descent, but performed the emergency action items "by memory."
In a telephone interview, a witness stated that he saw the airplane at low altitude near the IBM corporate campus and it appeared to be "in distress." He described the engine sound as surging between idle and "extremely high rpm." He said that the engine sounded as though it was "starving for fuel."
According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1996. The most recent annual inspection was completed July 1, 2011, at 1,460.4 total aircraft hours. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accrued 1,503 total aircraft hours.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. He reported 383.5 total hours of flight experience, of which 165.5 hours were in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued November 9, 2011.
Examination of the airplane at the scene by FAA inspectors revealed no pre-impact mechanical anomalies. The fuel selector was found in a position between the left tank and right tank detents . A detailed examination by the inspectors at a recovery facility revealed continuity of the fuel system, unobstructed fuel lines and filters, and an operational fuel selector.
The engine was removed from the airplane, and placed in a test cell on May 2, 2012. Prior to the test run, a borescope examination of the engine's cylinders revealed "normal" deposits and wear, and no anomalies. The engine started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran continuously without interruption. The engine run revealed no anomalies that would have prevented normal operation and the production of rated power.
A warning in the airplane manufacturer's Pilot's Operating Handbook stated:
"POSITION [Fuel] SELECTOR IN DETENTS ONLY – NO FUEL FLOW TO ENGINE BETWEEN DETENTS"