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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 22612
Last updated: 16 May 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic PA31 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Piper PA-31-350 Chieftain
Owner/operator:Aeronet Supply
Registration: N212HB
MSN: 31-8152072
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:2832 North Jones Blvd, Las Vegas, Nevada -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Las Vegas, NV (VGT)
Destination airport:Palo Alto, CA (PAO)
Investigating agency: NTSB
During climb a few minutes after takeoff, a fire erupted in the airplane's right engine compartment. About 7 miles from the departure airport, the pilot reversed course and notified the air traffic controller that he was declaring an emergency. As the pilot was proceeding back toward the departure airport witnesses observed fire beneath, and smoke trailing from, the right engine and heard boom sounds or explosions as the airplane descended. Although the pilot feathered the right engine's propeller, the airplane's descent continued. The 12-minute flight ended about 1.25 miles from the runway when the airplane impacted trees and power lines before coming to rest upside down adjacent to a private residence. A fuel-fed fire consumed the airframe and damaged nearby private residences.

The airplane was owned and operated by an airplane broker that intended to have it ferried to Korea. In preparation for the overseas ferry flight, the airplane's engines were overhauled. Maintenance was also performed on various components including the engine-driven fuel pumps, turbochargers, and propellers. Nacelle fuel tanks were installed and the airplane received an annual inspection. Thereafter, the broker had a ferry pilot fly the airplane from the maintenance facility in Ohio to the pilot's Nevada-based facility, where the ferry pilot had additional maintenance performed related to the air conditioner, gear door, vacuum pump, and idle adjustment. Upon completion of this maintenance, the right engine was test run for at least 20 minutes and the airplane was returned to the ferry pilot.

During the following month, the ferry pilot modified the airplane's fuel system by installing four custom-made ferry fuel tanks in the fuselage, and associated plumbing in the wings, to supplement the existing six certificated fuel tanks. The ferry pilot held an airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate with inspection authorization. He reinspected the airplane, purportedly in accordance with the Piper Aircraft Company's annual inspection protocol, signed the maintenance logbook, and requested Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for his ferry flight. The FAA reported that it did not process the first ferry pilot's ferry permit application because of issues related to the applicant's forms and the FAA inspector's workload. The airplane broker discharged the pilot and contracted with a new ferry pilot (the accident pilot) to immediately pick up the airplane in Nevada and fly it to California, the second ferry pilot's base. The contract specified that the airplane be airworthy. In California, the accident pilot planned to complete any necessary modifications, acquire FAA approval, and then ferry the airplane overseas.

The discharged ferry pilot stated to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator that none of his airplane modifications had involved maintenance in the right engine compartment. He also stated that when he presented the airplane to the replacement ferry pilot (at most 3 hours before takeoff) he told him that fuel lines and fittings in the wings related to the ferry tanks needed to be disconnected prior to flight. During the Safety Board's examination of the airplane, physical evidence was found indicating that the custom-made ferry tank plumbing in the wings had not been disconnected.

The airplane wreckage was examined by the NTSB investigation team while on scene and following its recovery. Regarding both engines, no evidence was found of any internal engine component malfunction. Notably, the localized area surrounding and including the right engine-driven fuel pump and its outlet port had sustained significantly greater fire damage than was observed elsewhere. According to the Lycoming engine participant, the damage was consistent with a fuel-fed fire originating in this vicinity, which may have resulted from the engine's fuel supply line "B" nut being loose, a failed fuel line, or an engine-driven fuel pump-related leak. The fuel supply line and its connecting components were not located.

Probable Cause: A loss of power in the right engine due to an in-flight fuel-fed fire in the right engine compartment that, while the exact origin could not be determined, was likely related to the right engine-driven fuel pump, its fuel supply line, or fitting. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to adhere to the POH's procedures for responding to the fire and configuring the airplane to reduce aerodynamic drag.


FAA register: 2. FAA:



Revision history:

28-Aug-2008 21:15 robbreid Added
20-Apr-2015 17:29 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:14 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
21-Dec-2016 19:16 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
21-Dec-2016 19:20 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
20-Oct-2017 16:29 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Source, Narrative]
20-Oct-2017 16:32 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Narrative]
03-Dec-2017 11:58 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Other fatalities, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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