Preliminary Report: Caravan crashes following engine stoppage

 - February 5, 2008, 5:59 AM

Cessna 208B, Creswell, Ore., March 5, 2003–Cessna Caravan N9793B crashed into trees during a forced landing following an in-flight engine failure at approximately 11:50 a.m. PST. The aircraft, owned and operated by Wright Stuff of Eugene, Ore, came to rest approximately one mile south of Creswell. The Part 91 flight was not on a flight plan and was being operated in VMC. The commercial-rated pilot and three passengers were not injured. The flight originated from Creswell at 11:48 a.m. destined for Cottage Grove, Ore.

Shortly after takeoff, at 1,000 feet agl, the aircraft experienced total loss of engine power. The airplane touched down uneventfully in an open pasture but, unable to stop, was substantially damaged when it hit trees at the end of the field.

According to the FAA inspector, the pilot reported that before takeoff he drained the main lower sump but, in accordance with his company’s policy, not the wing sumps. The pilot said the mechanic told him that “constant use of the wing sumps causes them to leak and also causes damage to the fuel cells that is hard to repair.”

The pilot also reported that a few days before the flight the airplane had been fueled from a 55-gallon barrel by an electric pump at the company’s fueling facility in Creswell. The inspector traveled to the fueling facility and checked the pump glass fuel filter cover, observing it to be half full of what appeared to be water. Apparently, the two 55-gallon barrels had been sitting outside in the rain.

The FAA inspector said that after turning on the master switch he noted there were 350 pounds of fuel in the left tank and 150 pounds in the right tank, according to the cockpit fuel gauges. The inspector then took fuel samples from the sumps, obtaining a pint of cloudy, watery substance from the left wing sump, a mixture of cloudy and clear fuel from the engine fuel sump and clear jet fuel from the right wing sump. It was noted that the red bypass indicator was extended on the fuel filter and the fuel selector was in the both position.