Aircraft Incident/Accident Report
North Las Vegas Airport

Las Vegas, Nevada 89032
Thursday, August 28, 2008 14:34 PDT

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NTSB Narrative Summary Released at Completion of Accident
During climb a few minutes after takeoff, a fire erupted in the airplane's right engine compartment. About 7 miles from the departure airport, the pilot reversed course and notified the air traffic controller that he was declaring an emergency. As the pilot was proceeding back toward the departure airport witnesses observed fire beneath, and smoke trailing from, the right engine and heard boom sounds or explosions as the airplane descended. Although the pilot feathered the right engine's propeller, the airplane's descent continued. The 12-minute flight ended about 1.25 miles from the runway when the airplane impacted trees and power lines before coming to rest upside down adjacent to a private residence. A fuel-fed fire consumed the airframe and damaged nearby private residences. The airplane was owned and operated by an airplane broker that intended to have it ferried to Korea. In preparation for the overseas ferry flight, the airplane's engines were overhauled. Maintenance was also performed on various components including the engine-driven fuel pumps, turbochargers, and propellers. Nacelle fuel tanks were installed and the airplane received an annual inspection. Thereafter, the broker had a ferry pilot fly the airplane from the maintenance facility in Ohio to the pilot's Nevada-based facility, where the ferry pilot had additional maintenance performed related to the air conditioner, gear door, vacuum pump, and idle adjustment. Upon completion of this maintenance, the right engine was test run for at least 20 minutes and the airplane was returned to the ferry pilot. During the following month, the ferry pilot modified the airplane's fuel system by installing four custom-made ferry fuel tanks in the fuselage, and associated plumbing in the wings, to supplement the existing six certificated fuel tanks. The ferry pilot held an airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate with inspection authorization. He reinspected the airplane, purportedly in accordance with the Piper Aircraft Company's annual inspection protocol, signed the maintenance logbook, and requested Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for his ferry flight. The FAA reported that it did not process the first ferry pilot's ferry permit application because of issues related to the applicant's forms and the FAA inspector's workload. The airplane broker discharged the pilot and contracted with a new ferry pilot (the accident pilot) to immediately pick up the airplane in Nevada and fly it to California, the second ferry pilot's base. The contract specified that the airplane be airworthy. In California, the accident pilot planned to complete any necessary modifications, acquire FAA approval, and then ferry the airplane overseas. The discharged ferry pilot stated to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator that none of his airplane modifications had involved maintenance in the right engine compartment. He also stated that when he presented the airplane to the replacement ferry pilot (at most 3 hours before takeoff) he told him that fuel lines and fittings in the wings related to the ferry tanks needed to be disconnected prior to flight. During the Safety Board's examination of the airplane, physical evidence was found indicating that the custom-made ferry tank plumbing in the wings had not been disconnected. The airplane wreckage was examined by the NTSB investigation team while on scene and following its recovery. Regarding both engines, no evidence was found of any internal engine component malfunction. Notably, the localized area surrounding and including the right engine-driven fuel pump and its outlet port had sustained significantly greater fire damage than was observed elsewhere. According to the Lycoming engine participant, the damage was consistent with a fuel-fed fire originating in this vicinity, which may have resulted from the engine's fuel supply line "B" nut being loose, a failed fuel line, or an engine-driven fuel pump-related leak. The fuel supply line and its connecting components were not located. The engine-driven fuel pump was subsequently examined by staff from the NTSB's Materials Laboratory. Noted evidence consisted of globules of resolidified metal and areas of missing material consistent with the pump having been engulfed in fire. The staff also examined the airplane. Evidence was found indicating that the fire's area of origin was not within the wings or fuselage, but rather emanated from a localized area within the right engine compartment, where the engine-driven fuel pump and its fuel supply line and fittings were located. However, due to the extensive pre- and post-impact fires, the point of origin and the initiating event that precipitated the fuel leak could not be ascertained. The airplane's "Pilot Operator's Handbook" (POH), provides the procedures for responding to an in-flight fire and securing an engine. It also provides single-engine climb performance data. The POH indicates that the pilot should move the firewall fuel shutoff valve of the affected engine to the "off" position, feather the propeller, close the engine's cowl flaps to reduce drag, turn off the magneto switches, turn off the emergency fuel pump switch and the fuel selector, and pull out the fuel boost pump circuit breaker. It further notes that unless the boost pump's circuit breaker is pulled, the pump will continuously operate. During the wreckage examination, the Safety Board investigators found evidence indicating that the right engine's propeller was feathered. However, contrary to the POH's guidance, the right engine's firewall fuel shutoff valve was not in the "off" position, the cowl flaps were open, the magneto switches were on, the emergency fuel pump switches and the fuel selector were on, and the landing gear was down. Due to fire damage, the position of the fuel boost pump circuit breaker could not be ascertained. Calculations based upon POH data indicate that an undamaged and appropriately configured airplane flying on one engine should have had the capability to climb between 100 and 200 feet per minute and, at a minimum, maintain altitude. Recorded Mode C altitude data indicates that during the last 5 minutes of flight, the airplane descended while slowing about 16 knots below the speed required to maintain altitude.
NTSB Probable Cause Narrative
A loss of power in the right engine due to an in-flight fuel-fed fire in the right engine compartment that, while the exact origin could not be determined, was likely related to the right engine-driven fuel pump, its fuel supply line, or fitting. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to adhere to the POH's procedures for responding to the fire and configuring the airplane to reduce aerodynamic drag.
Event Information
Type of EventAccident 
Event Date8/28/2008 
Event Day of the WeekThursday 
Time of Event1434 
Event Time ZonePacific Daylight Time 
Event CityLas Vegas 
Event StateNEVADA 
Event Country-- 
Zipcode of the event site89032 
Event Date Year2008 
Event Date Month
MidAir Collision IndicatorNo 
On Ground Collision occurred ?No 
Event Location Latitude361241N 
Event Location Longitude1151329W 
Event Location AirportNorth Las Vegas 
Event Location Nearest Airport IDVGT 
Indicates whether the acc/inc occurred off or on an airportOff Airport/Airstrip 
Distance from airport in statute miles
Degrees magnetic from airport-- 
Airport Elevation2205 
Weather Briefing Completeness-- 
Investigator's weather sourceWeather Observation Facility 
Time of the weather observation1453 Pacific Daylight Time 
Direction of event from weather observation facility (degrees)78 
Weather Observation Facility IDVGT 
Elevation of weather observation facility2205 
Distance of event from weather observation facility (units?)
Time Zone of the weather observationPDT 
Lighting ConditionsDay 
Lowest Ceiling Height-- 
Lowest Non-Ceiling Height-- 
Sky/Lowest/Cloud ConditionsClear 
Sky Condition for Lowest CeilingNone 
Visibility Runway Visual Range (Feet)-- 
Visibility Runway Visual Value (Statute Miles)-- 
Visibility (Statute Miles) 10 
Air Temperature at event time (in degrees celsius)40 
Dew Point at event time (in degress fahrenheit)
Wind Direction (degrees magnetic)-- 
Variable Wind IndicatorVariable 
Wind Speed (knots)
Wind Velocity Indicator -- 
Wind Gust IndicatorNot Gusting 
Wind Gust (knots) -- 
Altimeter Setting at event time (in. Hg) 29.77 
Density Altitude (feet)-- 
Intensity of Precipitation-- 
METAR weather report KVGT 282142Z 00000KT 10SM CLR 40/01 A2977 
Event Highest InjuryFatal 
On Ground, Fatal Injuries-- 
On Ground, Minor Injuries
On Ground, Serious Injuries-- 
Injury Total Fatal
Injury Total Minor
Injury Total None-- 
Injury Total Serious-- 
Injury Total All
Investigating AgencyNTSB 
NTSB Docket Number (internal use)28452 
NTSB Notification SourceFAA WP ROC  
NTSB Notification DateAug 28 2008 12:00AM 
NTSB Notification Time-- 
Fiche Number and/or location -used to find docket information-- 
Date of most recent change to recordJul 18 2011 9:09AM 
User who most recently changed recordbroda 
Basic weather conditionsVisual Meteorological Cond 
FAA District OfficeLas Vegas, NV 
Aircraft Involved
Aircraft #1
Aircraft Registration NumberN212HB 
NTSB NumberLAX08FA286 
Missing Aircraft Indicator-- 
Federal Aviation Reg. PartPart 91: General Aviation 
Type of Flight Plan filedNone 
Flight plan Was Activated?No 
Aircraft FireIn-flight 
Aircraft ExplosionIn-flight 
Aircraft Manufacturer's Full NamePIPER 
Aircraft ModelPA-31-350 
Aircraft Series Identifier-- 
Aircraft Serial Number31-8152072 
Certified Max Gross Weight7000 
Aircraft CategoryAirplane 
Aircraft Registration Class-- 
Aircraft is a homebuilt?No 
Flight Crew Seats
Cabin Crew Seats-- 
Passenger Seats
Total number of seats on the aircraft
Number of Engines
Fixed gear or retractable gearRetractable 
Aircraft, Type of Last InspectionAnnual 
Date of Last InspectionAug 10 2008 12:00AM 
Airframe hours since last inspection
Airframe Hours6373 
ELT InstalledYes 
ELT ActivatedNo 
ELT Aided Location of Event SiteNo 
ELT TypeUnknown 
Aircraft Owner NameAeronet Supply 
Aircraft Owner Street Address107 Ruby Court 
Aircraft Owner CityGardena 
Aircraft Owner StateCA 
Aircraft Owner CountryUSA  
Aircraft Owner Zipcode90248 
Operator is an individual?No 
Operator NameAeronet Supply 
Operator Same as Owner?Yes 
Operator Is Doing Business As-- 
Operator Address Same as Owner?Yes 
Operator Street Address-- 
Operator CityGardena 
Operator StateCA 
Operator CountryUSA  
Operator Zip code-- 
Operator Code-- 
Owner has at least one certificateNone 
Other Operator of large aircraft?No 
Certified for Part 133 or 137 Operation-- 
Operator Certificate Number-- 
Indicates whether an air carrier operation was scheduled or not-- 
Indicates Domestic or International Flight-- 
Operator carrying Pax/Cargo/Mail-- 
Type of Flying (Per_Bus / Primary)Other Work Use 
Second Pilot on BoardNo 
Departure Point Same as EventYes 
Departure Airport CodeVGT  
Departure CityLas Vegas 
Departure StateNV 
Departure CountryUSA 
Departure Time1422 
Departure Time ZonePDT 
Destination Same as Local Flt-- 
Destination Airport CodePAO  
Destination CityPalo Alto 
Destination StateCA 
Destination CountryUSA 
Specific Phase of FlightEmergency descent/landing 
Report sent to ICAO?-- 
Evacuation occurred-- 
Date of most recent change to recordMay 16 2011 3:36PM 
User who most recently changed recordeckd 
Since inspection or accidentTime of Accident 
Event Location Runway Number and Location07 
Runway Length5004 
Runway Width75 
Sight Seeing flightNo 
Air Medical FlightNo 
Medical Flight--