Airplane Experienced A Total Loss Of Engine Power
Location: Eufaula, AL Accident Number: ERA21LA190
Date & Time: April 20, 2021, 15:10 Local Registration: N91606
Aircraft: Cessna 182M Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Positioning
On April 20, 2021, about 1515 central daylight time, a Cessna 182M, N91606, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Eufaula, Alabama. The commercial pilot was not injured. The positioning flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
The flight was operated by Perry Air and the purpose of the flight was for the pilot to drop another company flight instructor to recover another company airplane from Milton, Florida after the completion of an avionics installation. The visual flight rules flight departed from Peter Prince Field (2R4), Milton, Florida about 1415, for the return flight to the company’s base at Perry-Houston County Airport (PXE), Perry, Georgia.
According to the pilot, he departed 2R4, climbed the airplane to his selected cruising altitude, and entered a cruise profile where he obtained flight-following services and remained for about 1 hour of the planned 2-hour flight on a northeasterly track. When the airplane was about 10 miles south of Weedon Field (EUF), Eufaula, Alabama, the pilot amended his destination to EUF for a restroom break. Shortly after turning the airplane to the north towards EUF, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power. The pilot consulted an online aeronautical service and realized he lacked the gliding distance to reach any of the nearest airports. He selected a field for landing, touched down, but then the airplane struck a barbed wire fence that separated the landing field from the next adjacent field and the airplane nosed over and came to rest inverted. The pilot egressed the substantially damaged airplane unharmed. He reported that, other than the loss of engine power, there was nothing wrong with the performance and handling of the airplane.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector said that when he arrived at the accident site there was no evidence of fuel, no evidence of fuel spillage, and no odor of fuel at the scene. He said the propeller was bent and that the vertical stabilizer and rudder were substantially damaged. When recovered from the site, the airplane’s wings were removed, and the recovery supervisor found that the airplane contained no fuel and that there was no odor nor evidence of fuel spillage at the scene.
A preliminary review of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and fueling records revealed the airplane had flown approximately 4 hours since the two 40-gallon fuel tanks (80 gallons total) were fully serviced with fuel. Those 4 hours did not include engine start, taxi, run-up, takeoff, and climb. Interpolation of performance charts revealed that a nominal figure for flight planning purposes was 14 gallons per hour.
Several days later, the EUF airport manager was escorted to the accident site by a local police lieutenant. Once there, she found and photographed blighted vegetation in the area that was beneath the right fuel tank cap where the airplane had rested inverted. The earth beneath the blighted vegetation was turned with a shovel, and a strong odor of aviation gasoline was detected. The area beneath the left fuel cap revealed no evidence of fuel spillage, fuel
blighting, nor odor of fuel.
Following recovery of the airplane, the damaged propeller was removed and replaced with a “club” propeller, the ejected airplane battery was reinstalled in its receptacle, and a can of aviation gasoline was plumbed into the airplane’s fuel system. An engine start was attempted, and the engine started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran continuously until the engine was stopped utilizing the cockpit controls. While the engine ran, a magneto check was performed and the “mag drop” noted was within the manufacturer’s suggested range.