Fuel exhaustion Accident Van's RV-6 N420PW, Sunday 5 January 2020
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Date:Sunday 5 January 2020
Type:Silhouette image of generic RV6 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Van's RV-6
Registration: N420PW
MSN: 20181
Year of manufacture:2014
Total airframe hrs:1263 hours
Engine model:Lycoming O-360-A1D
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Cullman Regional Airport-Folsom Field (KCMD), Cullman, AL -   United States of America
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:Cullman Regional Airport-Folsom Field, AL (KCMD)
Destination airport:Cullman Regional Airport-Folsom Field, AL (KCMD)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Witnesses reported that, during the airplane’s initial climb, when it reached about 350 ft above the ground, they heard loud “pop” and a loss of engine power. The witnesses watched as the airplane entered an immediate “sharp left banking turn” in what appeared to be an attempt to return to the airport. The airplane “stalled and went into a left spiral downward turn.” The airplane completed two turns before impacting the ground on airport property adjacent to the taxiway.

The position of the airplane’s fuel selector as found would have supplied fuel to the engine from the left fuel tank; however, both of the airplane’s fuel tanks were breached during the accident and no evidence of fuel was found in either. There was no post-crash fire and there was no residual fuel noted at the accident site. The traces of fuel that were recovered from the airplane’s fuel system were absent of water. Otherwise, no evidence of preimpact mechanical failure or malfunction was noted during the examination of the recovered airframe and engine. The airplane’s recent fueling and flight history could not be definitively determined from available evidence other than that the airplane had last been fueled at the accident airport just over 1 month before the accident, and that the pilot had flown it on at least one trip in the intervening time.

Toxicology testing performed on the pilot identified cocaine in urine, but there was no evidence that any active cocaine remained in the pilot’s body. THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, was not found; however, its active metabolite was in urine at very low levels. Therefore, the pilot was not directly impaired by his drug use at the time of the accident; whether he was feeling any effects from withdrawal could not be determined. Overall, it is unlikely that the pilot’s drug use contributed to the circumstances of this accident.

Based on the available information, the circumstances of the accident are consistent with a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion, and the pilot’s subsequent exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack during an attempted return to the runway, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall/spin.

Probable Cause: The pilot’s inadequate planning, which resulted in fuel exhaustion and a total loss of engine power during the initial climb. Also causal was the pilot’s exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack while attempting to return to the runway after takeoff, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall/spin, loss of control, and impact with terrain.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ERA20FA063
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 3 months
Download report: Final report






Photo: NTSB

Revision history:

05-Jan-2020 20:36 Geno Added
05-Jan-2020 21:04 Iceman 29 Updated [Total occupants, Source, Embed code]
06-Jan-2020 00:00 Captain Adam Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Embed code]
06-Jan-2020 01:53 Geno Updated [Registration, Cn, Source]
06-Jan-2020 15:51 RobertMB Updated [Registration, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
06-Jan-2020 17:50 Iceman 29 Updated [Embed code]
06-Jan-2020 17:51 Iceman 29 Updated [Source, Embed code]
06-Jan-2020 21:39 Captain Adam Updated [Narrative]
09-Jun-2021 07:46 aaronwk Updated [Time, Source, Narrative]
22-Apr-2022 23:16 Captain Adam Updated [Destination airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative, Category, Accident report, Photo]

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