GENERAL INFORMATION FOR NTSB REPORT: ANC00LA102
Data Source NTSB AVIATION ACCIDENT/INCIDENT DATABASE
NTSB Report Nbr ANC00LA102
Event Id 20001212X21634
Local Date 08/16/2000
Local Time 1752
State AK
Airport Name MERRILL FIELD
Event Type ACCIDENT
Injury Severity MINOR
Record Status
Mid Air Collision NO
Event Location OFF AIRPORT/AIRSTRIP

WEATHER INFORMATION
Weather Briefing Complete UNKNOWN
Basic Weather Conditions VISUAL METEOROLOGICAL COND
Light Condition DAY
Cloud Condition CLEAR
Cloud Height above Ground Level (ft) 0
Ceiling Height above Ground Level (ft) 0
Cloud Type NONE
Visibility RVR (ft) 0
Visibility RVV (sm) 0
Visibility (sm) 10
Wind Direction (deg) 280
Wind Condition Flag U
Wind Speed (knots) 7
Wind Condition Indicated Unknown

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION
Aircraft 1
Type of Operation PART 91: GENERAL AVIATION
Registration Number N88283
Aircraft Make PIPER
Aircraft Model J3
Aircraft Series NO SERIES EXISTS
Aircraft Damage SUBSTANTIAL
Aircraft Fire NONE
Aircraft Explosion NONE
Aircraft Type AIRPLANE
Aircraft Homebuilt UNKNOWN
Phase of Flight TAKEOFF
Aircraft Use PERSONAL
Flight Plan Filed NONE
Operator Name
Operator Doing Business As
Owner Name ROLF BILET
Number of Seats 2
Number of Engines 1
ELT Installed YES
ELT Operated UNKNOWN
Departure Airport Id MRI
Departure City
Last Departure Point YES
Destination Local DEST & DEPARTURE SAME, ACCIDENT CAN OCCUR ANYWHERE
Destination Airport Id
Destination City
Runway Id 6
Runway Length 4000
Runway Width 100
Air Carrier Operating Certificates NO
Air Carrier Other Operating Certificates UNKNOWN
Rotocraft/Agriculture Operating Certificate UNKNOWN
Cert Max Gross Wgt 1220

ENGINE INFORMATION

Aircraft 1 - Engine : #1
Engine Manufactuer Continental
Engine Model C-90-12F
Engine Horsepower 90
Engine Thrust HP
Carb/Injection CARBURETOR

INJURY INFORMATION
Injury Summary for Aircraft 1
Fatal Serious Minor None
Crew 0 0 0 0
Pass 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 1 0
Sequence of Events for Aircraft 1
Occurrence #1
LOSS OF ENGINE POWER (TOTAL) - NON-MECHANICAL
Phase of Operation: TAKEOFF - INITIAL CLIMB

Events Sequence for Occurrence #1 of Aircraft 1
Event Seq # Event Group Code Subject Modifier Personnel Cause/Factor
1 1 FUEL SYSTEM, DRAIN IMPROPER CAUSE
2 1 FUEL SYSTEM, RESERVOIR/HEADER TANK CONTAMINATION, WATER CAUSE
3 2 AIRCRAFT PREFLIGHT INADEQUATE PILOT IN COMMAND CAUSE

Occurrence #2
ON GROUND/WATER COLLISION WITH OBJECT
Phase of Operation: EMERGENCY LANDING AFTER TAKEOFF

Events Sequence for Occurrence #2 of Aircraft 1
Event Seq # Event Group Code Subject Modifier Personnel Cause/Factor
4 1 OBJECT VEHICLE




AIRCRAFT 1 PRELIMINARY REPORT


On August 16, 2000, about 1752 Alaska daylight time, a Piper J-3 airplane, N88283, sustained substantial damage when it collided with a parked vehicle during an emergency landing after takeoff from the Merrill Field Airport, Anchorage, Alaska. The solo private pilot received minor injuries. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91, as a local personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The pilot told an NTSB investigator at the scene that about one minute after takeoff, about 500 feet agl, the engine lost total power. He reversed direction to return to the airport, declared an emergency, and attempted to land on a street. After landing, the airplane collided with a parked vehicle at an automobile dealership. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage. Postaccident inspection of the carburetor, ignition system, induction and exhaust systems, and fuel supply systems, discovered no preaccident mechanical anomalies. The pilot stated in his NTSB Pilot/Operator Report, and during several interviews, that prior to his departure, he put 6 gallons of fuel in the right tank, and visually checked 8 gallons in the nose, and 5 gallons in the left wing. During his departure from Merrill Field, while about 500 feet agl, he said he closed the fuel valve to the forward fuel tank, and opened the fuel valve to the right wing tank. He stated that 45 seconds after this action, the engine lost power, and the propeller stopped rotating. The pilot indicated that he then opened the left fuel tank valve, and closed the right valve, but the engine did not restart. The airplane is not equipped with a starter motor. The pilot stated that after the accident, at the request of rescue personnel, he ensured the three fuel valves were shutoff to stop any fuel leakage. Within 30 minutes of the accident, an NTSB investigator and an FAA inspector, arrived on scene. The FAA inspector told the NTSB IIC, and wrote in a statement, that he looked into the front tank, and it appeared empty of fuel. A photograph taken at the scene shows the float-operated fuel quantity indicator in the zero fuel position. The carburetor bowl remained intact, and had fuel in it at the scene. Postaccident inspection revealed the center fuel tank did not have a quick drain valve. FAA Airworthiness Directive (AD) 85-06-04, effective May 4, 1985, requires the installation of a quick drain valve in the center (fuselage) fuel tank. The purpose of the AD is, "To prevent engine stoppage or malfunction due to the accumulation of water or other contaminants in the fuel system...). The airplane was modified with the addition of two, wing-mounted fuel tanks, authorized by Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) SA562GL, on September 14, 1994. An addendum to the installation instructions, dated November 21, 1997, requires the installation of a drain valve in the center fuel tank, when the center fuel tank is used in conjunction with the wing tanks. This addendum was not accomplished. The pilot stated that the center tank fuel was normally drained during preflight by using the gascolator fuel line drain. He said he had drained a small amount of water from the center tank prior to the accident flight, and had stopped draining when all evidence of water had ceased. The fuel supply outlet from the center tank is located in the center-bottom of the tank, below the level of the gascolator. The airplane attitude on the ground is about 7 degrees nose up. The NTSB IIC, the FAA inspector, and the owner, determined that when the gascolator is used to drain the center tank, there are two cups of undrainable fluid remaining in the center tank in the normal taxi attitude. In the two-week period prior to the accident, the airplane had been parked outside and exposed to rainfall. The center fuel tank cap was not equipped with a seal, or an "O"-ring. During postaccident testing, it was observed by the NTSB IIC, the FAA inspector, and the owner, that all three-fuel valves worked properly, and when in the closed position, none of the valves leaked when pressurized air was applied to the fuel lines.

AIRCRAFT 1 FINAL REPORT


The airplane's engine lost power shortly after takeoff. The pilot said that just before the loss of power, he had closed the fuel valve to the center fuel tank, and opened the fuel valve to the right fuel tank. The airplane is not equipped with a starter motor, and the pilot was unable to restart the engine prior to colliding with a parked car. Postaccident inspection discovered no preaccident mechanical anomalies with the airplane. The airplane was not equipped with the required quick drain valve in the center fuel tank. The quick drain valve was required by a supplemental type certificate associated with the installation of wing-mounted fuel tanks, and an FAA airworthiness directive, for the purpose of ensuring that all water or other contaminants could be removed from the center fuel tank. Prior to the flight, the pilot related he had drained a small amount of water from the center tank by using the fuel line gascolator. The NTSB IIC, the FAA inspector, and the pilot, determined that two cups of undrainable fluid remain in the center fuel tank when the gascolator is used to drain the center tank. The center tank cap was not fitted with a seal, or 'O'-ring. During the two weeks prior to the accident, the airplane was exposed to heavy rain.

AIRCRAFT 1 CAUSE REPORT


The loss of engine power due to water contamination of the fuel system, the airplane's lack of the required center fuel tank quick drain, and the pilot's inadequate preflight.


END REPORT