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Rare vintage Miles Falcon M3A Aircraft - damaged in forced landing - 17 April 2020

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Rare vintage Miles Falcon M3A Aircraft - damaged in forced landing - 17 April 2020

Old 20th Jun 2020, 14:02
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Rare vintage Miles Falcon M3A Aircraft - damaged in forced landing - 17 April 2020

Fuel starvation and forced landing involving a Miles M3A Falcon, near Hamilton Airport, Vic., on 17 April 2020

What happened

On 17 April 2020, a Miles M3A Falcon single-engine piston aircraft was operating a ferry flight from Lilydale to Nelson, Victoria. There was one pilot and one passenger on board.

During cruise, after flying for about 2 hours and 20 minutes, the pilot decided to conduct a diversion to Hamilton for the day due to approaching weather and lighting conditions. Approximately 9 km south-east of Hamilton at 2,000 ft AGL, the engine failed. The pilot attempted to restart the engine by changing the fuel selector from the ‘both’ selection to the left tank but was unsuccessful. The pilot then changed the fuel selector to the right tank and the engine restarted momentarily, before cutting out again.

The pilot identified a large paddock nearby to conduct a forced landing. The aircraft was unable to reach the desired paddock and the pilot subsequently conducted the forced landing in a smaller paddock.

After touchdown, the right wing struck a fence post and the aircraft swung sideways. The aircraft then struck a second wire fence, and the wire pulled the aircraft to a stop. The right landing gear collapsed, the propeller struck the ground and the wing’s leading edge sustained damage. The pilot and passenger were uninjured.

Engineering inspection

The engineering inspection revealed that as the aircraft had not been operated for several years, debris accumulated in the fuel lines resulting in a blockage during flight and the engine failure. The inspection further revealed that there was 60 litres of fuel remaining in the left tank, and no fuel remained in the right tank.

Figure 1: Fuel line blockage and debris



Source: Pilot

Figure 2: Fuel line blockage and debris



Source: Pilot

Pilot comments

The pilot advised that normally, a low-wing aircraft would only have left and right fuel selector positions. This aircraft, which he had recently purchased, is fitted with a fuel selector that has a ‘both’ position and he assumed that fuel was drawing equally from both wing tanks. He therefore believed having the fuel selector set to this position was the best option for the flight. The pilot further commented that it would have been beneficial to have conducted a check of the fuel supply from the left wing tank 1.5 hours into the flight to ensure there was enough fuel flow for the cruise consumption of 32 litres per hour and to check that fuel was drawing from both wing tanks.

Safety message

This accident highlights the importance of ensuring all aircraft systems and components are operating as per the aircraft manual.

It also serves as a reminder that keeping fuel supplied to the engine during flight relies on the pilot’s knowledge of the aircraft’s fuel supply system and being familiar and proficient in its use.

More information on fuel management can be found in the ATSB research report, Starved and Exhausted: Fuel management aviation accidents (AR-2011-112).

About this report

Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.

General details

General details Date: 17 April 2020 Investigation status: Completed Time: 1730 EST

Location (show map): 9 km SE of Hamilton Airport

State: Victoria

Release Date: 22 May 2020 Occurrence category: Accident Report status: Final Highest injury level: None

Aircraft details

Aircraft details Aircraft model Miles M3A Falcon Type of operation Private Sector Piston Damage to aircraft Substantial Departure point Lilydale, Victoria Destination Nelson, Victoria
Office Update is offline  
Old 20th Jun 2020, 15:02
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shouldn't this be combined with the other thread?
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Old 20th Jun 2020, 22:04
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Previous thread deleted to stop unwarranted speculation.
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 02:52
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Look like the 'gum';/ gunk you get in lines with modern mogas left undrained in the system and evaporates off.. Had a similar problem with a stored Auster., and more recently with a vehicle..both in-tank pump and fuel filter gummed up.
The guts of the car filter, when the metal cannister cut open was like a piece of petrified wood.!!
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 03:42
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Unleaded fuel?
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Old 21st Jun 2020, 06:17
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That saying....use it or lose it.....comes to mind here!
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 05:45
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Does Avgas keep better? Alternately is there a fuel preservative that can be added to your tanks of mogas?
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 06:06
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Just to clarify. VH AAT had only ever been filled with avgas. AAT has a gipsy major with no starter. It was easier to fill Jerry cans at the fuel pad than start it twice which is a two person job with the miles.
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Old 22nd Jun 2020, 23:13
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Avgas Storage - Avgas instability involves multi-step reactions, some of which are oxidation reactions. Hydroperoxides and peroxides are the initial reaction products. These products remain dissolved in the fuel but may attack and shorten the life of some fuel system elastomers. Additional reactions result in the formation of soluble gums and insoluble particulates. These products may clog fuel filters and deposit on the walls of aircraft fuel systems, restricting flow in small-diameter passageways

Instability of avgas during storage is generally not a problem because of the way the fuel is manufactured, and most fuel is used within a few months of its manufacture. Storage stability can be an issue at locations where fuel is stored for occasional or emergency use. Avgas that has been properly manufactured, stored, and handled should remain stable for at least one year. Avgas subjected to longer storage or to improper storage or handling should be tested to be sure it meets all applicable specification requirements before use.

Changes that can occur during storage include:

• Air oxidation of more reactive hydrocarbons.
• Air oxidation of tetraethyl lead to form an insoluble white solid.
• Evaporation of the more volatile hydrocarbon components.

Because it is the more reactive molecules that participate in instability reactions, storage stability is influenced by fuel composition. It is also influenced by storage conditions: Instability reactions occur faster and to a greater extent at higher ambient temperatures.

Storage of avgas in high ambient temperatures presents an additional challenge. The most volatile components can evaporate from the fuel and be lost to the atmosphere. If enough of the high vapor pressure components are lost, the TEL concentration could increase to above the specification maximum, and the vapor pressure could fall below the specification minimum.

Microbial Growth - Avgas is sterile when first produced because of the high refinery processing temperatures. But it becomes contaminated with microorganisms that are always present in air and water. These include bacteria and fungi (yeasts and molds). The solids formed by microbial growth are very effective at plugging fuel filters. Some microorganisms also generate acidic byproducts that can accelerate metal corrosion.

Since most microorganisms need free water to grow, microbial growth is usually concentrated at the fuel-water interface, when one exists. Some organisms need air to grow (aerobic organisms), while others grow only in the absence of air (anaerobic organisms). In addition to food (fuel) and water, microorganisms also need certain elemental nutrients. Phosphorus is the only one whose concentration might be low enough to limit microbial growth. Higher ambient temperatures also favor microbial growth.

Microbial contamination of avgas is less common than in other petroleum products, presumably due to the toxicity of tetraethyl lead, but it does occur. The best approach to microbial contamination is prevention. And the most important preventive step is keeping the amount of water in the fuel storage tank as low as possible. No additives are approved as biocides in the major avgas specifications.
https://www.skybrary.aero/bookshelf/books/2478.pdf
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Old 23rd Jun 2020, 01:48
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The mogas residue in the pipes was almost impossible to clean out. New lengths of copper pipe warranted.
Trust the good wood folk can put the Falcon back together to grace the skies again..
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Old 23rd Jun 2020, 12:21
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Originally Posted by aroa View Post
The mogas residue in the pipes was almost impossible to clean out. New lengths of copper pipe warranted.
Trust the good wood folk can put the Falcon back together to grace the skies again..
Not the first time she has been through a fence!..... She had a tangle with a fence in Echuca in the 50's when Arthur schutt owned her. Damage looked a lot worse then.
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Old 23rd Jun 2020, 22:26
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When the aircraft was totally and completely rebuilt in climate controlled conditions at Berwick. The woodworker was a professional..
The airframe timbers were totally replaced and all new timber used, many months spent shaping various timbers for complex curves.
I think at the time 99% of the aircraft was replaced. Modern glue, customs jigs,etc. Apart from metal attachment fittings, engine cowling, and the 'data plate' the aircraft was in fact brand new.
Magnificent restoration.
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