Aircraft: Beech A23. Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor. Location: Laytonsville, Md. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot, accompanied by a flight instructor, was practicing takeoffs and landings. The first two went well. Before the third takeoff, the pilot verified that the flaps were retracted for takeoff and that the fuel selector valve was positioned on the left fuel tank.
He applied power and released the brakes. As the airplane rolled down the runway, it lifted off, then settled back onto the runway. The pilot noted that the airplane was not performing as well as on the previous takeoffs. The airplane eventually became airborne, but did not climb normally.
The pilot veered to the right in an attempt to avoid trees at the end of the runway. The flight instructor took the flight controls as the right turn became steeper and the airplane began to descend. According to a witness, the airplane entered a spin before hitting the ground.
The post-accident examination of the fuel selector revealed it was in a mid-range position, with neither the left or right tank selected. When the fuel selector was placed to the center position, similar to where it was found after the accident, fuel would not flow through the fuel selector.
It is likely the pilot did not turn the fuel selector completely so that it was not locked in the detent, which restricted fuel flow and resulted in a loss of engine power. In addition, the main fuel line and the return fuel line were removed and there was no fuel present.
An engine teardown was performed and the fuel manifold was disassembled. Dry rot was noted on the manifold diaphragm and it was leaking. Investigators determined that the leak might have reduced fuel consumption, but not a significant amount. It is likely that, because of the loss of engine power, the airplane would not have been able to adequately climb above the trees off the end of the runway.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to ensure that the fuel selector handle was correctly positioned, which resulted in an interruption of fuel to the engine and a loss of engine power during the takeoff, which necessitated a turn away from the trees at the end of the runway and the subsequent stall.
NTSB Identification: ERA12FA458
This July 2012 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.