This October 2008 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.
Aircraft: Cessna 206. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Anchorage, Alaska. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The commercial pilot and a passenger were on a cross-country flight. After the accident witnesses reported that they had seen the pilot refueling the airplane, but noted that he did not perform a pre-flight inspection which included checking the fuel tank sumps for contamination prior to starting the engine. The witness said the pilot started the airplane and taxied to the runway and instigated a takeoff without performing a engine runup.
The airplane lifted off and began to climb. The witnesses on the ground reported hearing the airplane’s engine sputter, backfire, and then lose power. The airplane was approximately 300 feet above the ground. The pilot made a steep left turn toward an intersecting runway. The airplane remained in a nose high attitude during the turn, stalled, and crashed into a building just outside the airport boundary fence. The aircraft burst into flames. The FAA tower controller reported he had cleared the pilot for a west departure but when he saw the airplane making the turn opposite the direction he was cleared to he asked the pilot’s intentions. The pilot replied that his engine was out. The controller cleared him to land on any runway.
The post-accident inspection of the aircraft’s fuel tanks and ignition system were not possible because of impact and fire damage. The fuel tank selector was found in the right tank position. Tests conducted with a similar airplane disclosed that the engine would stop between three and four minutes if the fuel selector was positioned in either the OFF position or at a setting between the tanks. According to the tower transcripts, the total elapsed time from the request to taxi with the engine running until the report of the engine power loss was three minutes and 12 seconds. Investigators determined that the loss of engine power may be attributable to the improper positioning of the fuel selector, but the inability to examine the airplane’s fuel and ignition systems for deficiencies made it impossible rule out either an ignition problem or fuel contamination. However, the pilot’s decision to attempt a steep turn toward an intersecting runway at such a low altitude following the loss of engine power, likely resulted in an aerodynamic stall, loss of control, and a non-survivable crash.
Probable cause: A loss of engine power during for an undetermined reason, and the pilot’s decision to make an abrupt and steep low altitude turn toward an intersecting runway, resulting in an aerodynamic stall and loss of aircraft control.
For more information: NTSB.gov