On June 28, 2012, approximately 0920 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-23, N3170P, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a field near Baltic, Ohio. The pilot and passenger were seriously injured. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 without a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The cross-country flight departed Akron-Canton Regional Airport (KCAK), Akron, Ohio, approximately 0900 and was en route to Mallory Airport (WV12), South Charleston, West Virginia. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot stated that about 10 minutes after departure, the left engine began to surge and subsequently lost power. He feathered the propeller, secured the engine, and elected to divert to the Richard Downing Airport (I40) near Coshocton, Ohio. The pilot was unable to maintain altitude and elected to perform an off-airport landing to a field. While approaching that field, the right engine lost power. During the emergency approach and landing, the airplane impacted the tops of trees prior to impacting the ground. Both wings were bent and the fuselage was wrinkled during the accident sequence. During recovery, both main and auxiliary fuel tanks were drained.
An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board and two inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) examined the airplane, both engines, and related systems. A sample of fuel, drained from the left wing, contained small particles. Examination of the left engine fuel system revealed metal, dirt, and paint chip contamination in the fuel bowl. In addition, the fuel bowl was pitted and corroded. The fuel screen in the left engine carburetor was 100 percent occluded with contamination similar to what was found in the fuel bowl. Additional contamination was found in the left carburetor bowl.
The left engine driven fuel pump was pitted and corroded, and the left engine electric fuel pump screen was occluded. The magnet in the bottom of the pump contained corroded metal fragments.
Examination of the right engine fuel system revealed contamination in the fuel bowl, consistent with the contamination found in the left fuel system. The strainer bowl housing was corroded and pitted. The fuel screen in the right engine carburetor was 90 percent occluded with contamination similar to what was found in the fuel bowl. Contamination was also found in the right carburetor bowl and the right engine electric fuel pump. The fuel pump housing exhibited pitting and corrosion.
No additional anomalies consistent with a loss of engine power were observed.
In November 1988, Piper Aircraft issued Service Bulletin (SB) 827A, in order to address the loss of engine power due to water and sediment accumulation in the fuel system. This service bulletin required the pilot to sump both the main and auxiliary fuel tanks if the dual fuel drain kit had not been installed on the airplane. This was accomplished by selecting both main and auxiliary fuel tanks with the cockpit selector valve. In addition, the pilot was to select a cross feed setting and conduct one additional sump of the system. On August 21, 1992, the FAA issued Airworthiness Directive (AD) 92-13-04, requiring compliance with Piper SB 827A. This AD required that the SB with the sumping procedures be added to the Owner Handbook and Pilots Operating Manual for the airplanes affected by the AD, and that the procedures be complied with if the dual fuel drain kit had not been installed.
An examination of the maintenance records revealed that the last annual inspection had been completed on October 1, 2010; under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 43 Appendix D. The logbook entry stated that AD 92-13-04 had been complied with and was to be accomplished prior to each preflight. However, SB 827A was not located in the airplane paperwork, Owner Handbook, or Pilots Operating Manual during the accident investigation.
The pilot reported that prior to the flight, he conducted a normal preflight inspection, had 54 gallons of fuel added to both main fuel tanks, and sumped one fuel sump cup full of fuel out of each main tank. The pilot consulted with the previous owner who confirmed that there was only one fuel sump on each wing. The previous owner did not advise of any special procedures required for sumping the fuel. The pilot acknowledged that he was not aware of SB 827A or AD 92-13-04, which required the special fuel sumping procedure. He stated that when he sumped the fuel, he did not notice any contamination in the fuel.