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Additional info on fatal crash - Piper PA-31-350, N40ST

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Additional info on fatal crash - Piper PA-31-350, N40ST

Old 8th Dec 2006, 23:12
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Additional info on fatal crash - Piper PA-31-350, N40ST

My cousin was killed on July 10th, in this fatal crash. The only info I received through the grapevine was that he had a dual flameout after switching fuel tanks. I've been waiting to see the final report, but I was just wondering if there was anybody out there who had more intimate details.

NTSB Identification: SEA06FA139
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Monday, July 10, 2006 in Easton, WA
Aircraft: Piper PA-31-350, registration: N40ST
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
On July 10, 2006, approximately 1735 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-31-350, N40ST, impacted a tree about one-half mile east of Easton State Airport, Easton, Washington. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant, received fatal injuries, and the aircraft, which was being operated by AirPac Airlines, was destroyed by the impact and the post-crash fire. The 14 CFR Part 135 air cargo flight, which departed Spokane International Airport, Spokane, Washington, at 1620, was being operated in visual meteorological conditions on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. There was no report of an ELT activation.

According to the controller at Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center, the pilot was in cruise flight at 8,000 feet above sea level, when he reported that he did not have enough power to maintain his assigned altitude, and soon thereafter stated that he did not have enough power to make it over the Cascade Mountains. The aircraft then began to descend, and the pilot transmitted that he was going to go to Easton. About five minutes after he advised Center about his power problems, the aircraft was seen turning from a left base to final for runway 27 at Easton. When the aircraft was about one-half mile from the end of the runway, it impacted a conifer tree about 20 feet from its top, and descended into the terrain. After impacting the terrain, the wreckage erupted into intense flames.
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Old 9th Dec 2006, 07:58
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Very sorry to hear that. A couple of things that might help... First, in my opinion, the design of the fuel selection and gauging system on the PA-31 is very poor, and has potential to make life very awkward even for a competent pilot. While there's no way that NTSB or anyone else will recommend a re-design, they should be prepared to be critical of it, and of those who certified it. Second, it's part of the job of the investigator to help those affected by an accident to understand why it happened. Therefore, if you want to know more (and I would recommend that knowledge is a useful part of the route to 'closure'), then I would suggest that you get in touch with the NTSB and ask the investigator in charge to establish a dialogue with you. It may be that this is already in place with other members of your family, in which case, tap into that process. I hope this helps.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 00:10
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PA31-350 and fuel tank switching

Hi Guys

Very very sorry about your cousin!
However, regarding the fuel swithing on this aircraft it should not be any problem at all. If you have enough fuel of course.
I flew the PA31-350 for seven years and we always went down to fuel Boostpumplights came on before we switched tanks, or sometimes if we where slow on switching one or both engines vent a bit ruff and starved a bit but they always honked up again without a singel problem. If i remember correctly ( its about ten years ago) we could go about 1:50 to 2:00 hours on the outers before swithing to inner tanks.

/M
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 08:41
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Originally Posted by Mega View Post
Boostpumplights came on before we switched tanks, or sometimes if we where slow on switching one or both engines vent a bit ruff and starved a bit
/M
...and you regard that as not being a problem???
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Old 12th Dec 2006, 23:38
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Thanks for the replies and kind words guys!

Originally, when I heard that the engines flamed out after switching tanks, I assumed there was either water or debris in the lines. Its good to know that the probable cause isn't something as easily correctable as that. On the other hand, the fact that this aircraft is certified with a defective fuel system is scary! Thanks for pointing me to the likely problem.
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Old 14th Dec 2006, 16:38
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Angel pa31

the fuel system on the chieftain is very simple, there are 4 tanks 2 inboard and 2 outboard. with two fuel selectors, one for port and one for staboard, it standard procedure to burn fuel from inner tanks for take off, then change to the outer tanks for the cruise then change back to the inners for app and landing, hope this helps.

deza.
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