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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 180359
Last updated: 1 December 2019
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Date:13-OCT-2015
Time:11:34
Type:Silhouette image of generic BE35 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Beechcraft G35 Bonanza
Owner/operator:Private
Registration: N394CW
C/n / msn: D-4863
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Category:Accident
Location:Weld County NE of Eaton, CO -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Private
Departure airport:Lyons, KS (LYO)
Destination airport:Greeley, CO (GXY)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Narrative:
The commercial-rated pilot and passenger (who owned the airplane) were conducting a cross-country business flight. Several witnesses reported observing the accident airplane overhead; one witness stated that the engine made a “sputtering” sound like it was running out of gas. She stated that airplane was flying north and then turned west when it began to “nose dive” out of sight. A review of the radar data revealed that the airplane approached the destination airport from the southeast and proceeded north, tracking above the runway about 400 ft above ground level (agl).  The airplane then climbed to 900 ft agl and continued northbound. About 8 miles north of the destination airport, the airplane was about 1,100 ft agl and then entered a left turn and descended. The last radar point showed the airplane on a southwest heading and about 350 ft agl. The airplane impacted the ground with its left wing low, cartwheeled to the right, and came to rest upright in a harvested corn field. The main wreckage was found about 460 ft southwest of the last radar point.
The accident airplane likely encountered low-level wind shear and clear air turbulence and a wind shift that switched from a gusting headwind to a gusting tailwind in a short amount of time.
The right main fuel tank, which the selector valve indicated was selected at the time of the accident, was found empty and was not breached. The engine carburetor did not contain any fuel. A postaccident examination of the engine and airframe did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.
The pilot reported that the main tanks were full and the tip tanks were empty, so it is likely that the airplane contained 60 gallons of fuel before departure. The radar data revealed that the accident flight was 3 hours 16 and minutes long. Based on the accident flight, the engine would have consumed about 40 gallons of fuel from initial taxi to the accident site. This should have left about 20 gallons remaining in the tanks, which would have been enough to fly to the destination airport in addition to reserve fuel. The accident airplane was equipped with a single fuel quantity indicator gauge for the six fuel tanks; only one tank could be monitored at any given time. Switches on the instrument panel allowed the pilot to select which tank to monitor on the gauge. The pilot and airplane’s new owner had limited experience in the airplane and with the airplane fuel indicating system, so they likely had the fuel indicator selected to another fuel tank and did not appropriately monitor the level of fuel in the right main tank, which was selected to feed the engine. Based on witness statements and the evidence obtained on-scene, it is likely that the engine was starved of available fuel. Once engine power was lost, the pilot then failed to maintain control of the airplane while flying in gusting wind and low-level wind shear conditions.

Probable Cause: The pilot's loss of airplane control in gusting wind conditions and low-level wind shear, following a loss of engine power due to fuel starvation. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to properly monitor the fuel level inflight because of his unfamiliarity with the fuel system.

Sources:

NTSB: https://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief.aspx?ev_id=20151013X50647&key=1
FAA register: http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Results.aspx?NNumbertxt=394CW


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
13-Oct-2015 21:26 Geno Added
14-Oct-2015 08:32 TB Updated [Aircraft type]
14-Oct-2015 15:25 Geno Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Source]
17-Oct-2016 20:37 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:30 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
01-Dec-2017 15:29 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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