Accident Mooney M20C Ranger N53CP,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 199737
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Date:Saturday 16 September 2017
Type:Silhouette image of generic M20P model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Mooney M20C Ranger
Registration: N53CP
MSN: 2663
Year of manufacture:1964
Engine model:Lycoming IO-360-B1B
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Guilford-North Branford, CT -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Plainville, CT (4B8)
Destination airport:Westhampton Bch, NY (FOK)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The airline transport pilot, who was the owner of the airplane, and one passenger departed on a day visual flight rules cross-country flight. The airplane came to rest in a wooded area near an open field about 24 miles from the departure airport. The pilot was not in contact with air traffic control during the flight. Review of radar information revealed radar targets that were coincident with the accident flight on a south-southeast track at altitudes between 900 and 1,300 ft above ground level until radar contact was lost about 1 mile northwest of the accident site. Several individuals near the accident site reported that they heard the sound of the impact, but there were no witnesses to the accident. The propeller exhibited signatures consistent with a lack of engine power at the time of impact. The fuel selector was found in the left tank position and the landing gear was extended. There was evidence of fuel in both tanks at the accident site.

Examination of the fuel system revealed that air would not pass through the fuel selector valve with the valve selected to the left fuel tank position. The handle was operated by hand and could be moved normally between the settings. Air passed freely through the valve when selected to the right tank position. Disassembly of the fuel selector revealed a piece of red, fibrous material consistent with a shop towel that likely inhibited fuel flow to the engine and resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power. The airplane's maintenance logs were not found and when the shop towel debris may have been introduced to the fuel system could not be determined. Additionally, a homemade tool constructed of PVC pipe and connection fittings was found in the wreckage that appeared to be designed to manipulate the fuel selector; however, the reason for its fabrication and use during the accident flight could not be determined. The device was broken at its handle.

Following the loss of engine power, the pilot may have attempted to switch the fuel selector from the left tank to the right tank and was unable to do so, either due to a failure of his homemade tool or to the inadequate time afforded to troubleshoot the loss of engine power due to his selection of a low cruising altitude, or a combination of the two factors. The airplane's low cruising altitude also reduced the pilot's available forced landing site options after the engine lost power. It is likely that the pilot was attempting to reach an open field that was about 1,500 ft beyond the accident site and had lowered the landing gear in preparation for landing, but due to the airplane's low altitude, it was unable to reach the field and impacted trees.

The pilot's medical certificate was denied nearly 10 years before the accident and never re-issued. Autopsy identified severe cardiac disease, which placed the pilot at risk for sudden symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, or fainting; however, it is not likely that this condition contributed to the accident.

Probable Cause: A total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation as the result of foreign object debris in the fuel selector valve. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's selection of a low cruising altitude, which reduced the available time to troubleshoot the loss of engine power and afforded fewer forced landing site options, and improper maintenance of the airplane, which allowed a portion of a shop towel into the fuel system.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ERA17FA327
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 3 months
Download report: Final report



FAA register:



Revision history:

17-Sep-2017 00:12 Iceman 29 Added
17-Sep-2017 00:13 Iceman 29 Updated [Narrative]
17-Sep-2017 08:12 gerard57 Updated [Damage]
17-Sep-2017 15:40 Aerossurance Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]
18-Sep-2017 00:00 Geno Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator, Location, Nature, Departure airport, Source]
22-Dec-2019 14:15 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Operator, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative, Accident report, ]
28-Mar-2020 14:10 Aerossurance Updated [Phase, Source, Embed code, Damage, Narrative]

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