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N761BT accident description

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Crash location 38.925000°N, 94.328611°W
Nearest city Lee'S Summit, MO
38.922559°N, 94.372990°W
2.4 miles away
Tail number N761BT
Accident date 06 Apr 2014
Aircraft type Cessna T210M
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On April 6, 2014, at 1745 central daylight time, a Cessna T210M, N761BT, experienced a total loss of engine power during cruise flight. The pilot performed a forced landing to a field near Lee's Summit, Missouri. The airplane sustained substantial damage. Both company commercial-rated pilots sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to and operated by Mar-Tech Engineering LLC and was operating under 14 CFR Part 91 as an aerial survey positioning flight. The flight originated from Jacksonville Executive Airport at Craig, Jacksonville, Florida, at 1303 eastern daylight time and was destined for Lee's Summit Municipal Airport, Lee's Summit, Missouri.

The company chief pilot stated that the flight was being positioned to meet a cable company employee on the following day at 0900 to perform aerial survey work. He said that the next stop after Lee's Summit, Missouri, or Kansas City, Missouri, may have been Denver, Colorado. Two pilots would be used during the survey with the left seat pilot as the pilot-in-command and the right seat pilot as a survey equipment operator which would make use of a laptop. Pilots would alternate flying the airplane on flights. He stated that the company prefers to employ pilots with flight instructor certificates.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report (Form 6120.1) forms were emailed to both pilots to complete and return to the Investigator-In-Charge. A form was received from the left seat pilot and not from the right seat pilot.

The left seat pilot stated:

"After loading the plane, filing a flight plan, having the plane fully topped off on all four tanks by the FBO truck, and performing our normal preflight procedure, we took off at a little after 1:00 pm from KCRG in Jacksonville, FL. I filed an IFR flight plan through Duals and we flew as directed towards our destination, filed as KLXT. The flight went according to plan. The only thing both my passenger and myself noted and discussed was that the manifold pressure was fluctuating between 23 and 30 inches without me changing the setting manually for about a period of approximately ten minutes. My passenger (who is also a pilot) and I discussed and decided to keep flying as it was not enough of a problem to deviate from our planned flight and the engine ran smoothly. After ten minutes the manifold pressure leveled out at the desired setting of 26.5 inches. We continued on with the flight as normal at 12,000 feet with the engine leaned in accordance with the POH and the placard above the engine instruments. About 12 miles from airport my passenger and I double checked flight time as the fuel gauges were reading a little lower than expected. We had been flying for 5.1 hrs. These planes have a 7 hour+ range, and we regularly and routinely fly them over 6 hours at a time. We were less than 5 miles from airport and had visual confirmation of the runway. Suddenly we lost power and immediately looked for a place to land. At the time the field on the south side of highway looked best. The gear was put down and we ran through the checklist and were able to get the motor started, we climbed to gain as much altitude as possible and headed directly for the airport. About 2, 3 miles from the airport we lost power again, at this time our options were limited and I had to decide between a lake and woods on the east side of airport, or a small field next to a baseball complex. My passenger (who is also a pilot for my company) and I agreed it was our best option. We aimed for the field and had to bank hard right at the last minute because of a tree line and power line and houses on the other side of the field. We hit firmly and were both wearing our seat belts. I was able to push my door open and climb out and the passenger did the same. Basically as soon as we got out of the plane there were some first responders there to help."

FlightAware showed that the airplane climbed to and remained at cruise altitude of about 12,000 feet for about 1:30 hours and descended to and remained at cruise altitude of about 8,000 feet for about three hours.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the left tip tank contained about 1 gallon of fuel, the right tip tank contained about 1 gallon of fuel, the left main tank contained less than 2 ounces of fuel, the right main tank contained less than 2 ounces of fuel, and the fuel strainer bowl contained about 1 ounce of fuel.

The FAA inspector stated that the airplane landed uphill on a soft field. Both wings were collapsed, and the wing flaps were extended to the 10-degree position. The cockpit propeller and mixture controls were at the forward stops. The cockpit throttle control was at the aft stop and bent in the lateral direction. The fuel selector was in the off position, which was placed into that position by an unknown first responder.

The left seat pilot reported in his Form 6120.1 that he did not use his shoulder harness and that a shoulder harness was not available. The chief pilot stated that the airplane was equipped with shoulder harnesses. The FAA inspector confirmed that shoulder harnesses were installed on the airplane.

Advisory Circular 91-65, Use of Shoulder Harness in Passenger Seats, stated in part:

"On December 17, 1985, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued safety recommendation A-85-124, recommending issuance of an advisory circular to provide information on crash survivability aspects of small aircraft. The recommendation was the result of an NTSB general aviation airplane crashworthiness project. In the project, the Safety Board examined 500 relatively severe general aviation airplane accident, to determine what proportion of the occupants would have benefited from the use of shoulder harnesses and energy-absorbing seats. The Safety Board found that 20 percent of the fatally-injured occupants in these accidents could have survived with shoulder harnesses (assuming the seat belt was fastened) and 88 percent of the seriously injured could have had significantly less severe injuries with the use of shoulder harnesses."

The left seat pilot fractured two vertebrae in his lower back, and the right seat pilot fractured his jaw and right foot/ankle.

The left seat pilot reported on Form 6120.1 that he held a flight instructor certificate with airplane single-engine, airplane multiengine, and instrument airplane ratings. The FAA had no record that either pilot held a flight instructor certificate.

The chief pilot said that the company operated 9 airplanes and employed 13 pilots, all of whom were employed on a full-time basis. The company has conducted over 20,000 hours of flying over the past 20 years and this accident was the second in the company's history. All flight operations were conducted under Part 91. The chief pilot stated there was a pilot safety meeting in December 2013, which was attended by the left and right seat pilots in addition to all of the other company pilots. Pilots were told not the fly the accident airplane on flight legs that were in excess of three hours without stops for fuel to determine the fuel burn of the airplane.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilots’ inadequate preflight planning and fuel management, which resulted in fuel exhaustion, a loss of engine power, and a forced landing on a soft field. Contributing to the accident was the flying pilot’s improper use of flaps during the forced landing.

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