N6202C Accident Information

NTSB Report

NTSB Identification: MIA74AM012
14 CFR Part 91 General Aviation
Event occurred Sunday, August 05, 1973 in FT LAUDERDALE, FL
Aircraft: LOCKHEED 1049, registration: N6202C

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 FILE    DATE          LOCATION          AIRCRAFT DATA       INJURIES       FLIGHT                        PILOT DATA
                                                               F  S M/N     PURPOSE
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3-2764   73/8/5    FT LAUDERDALE,FLA   LOCKHEED 1049       CR-  0  0  5  MISCELLANEOUS             ATP,FLIGHT INSTR., AGE
        TIME - 1925                    N6202C              PX-  0  0  3  FERRY                     62, 17000 TOTAL HOURS,
                                       DAMAGE-SUBSTANTIAL  OT-  0  0  0                            3000 IN TYPE, INSTRUMENT
                                                                                                   RATED.
        DEPARTURE POINT             INTENDED DESTINATION         LAST ENROUTE STOP
          FREEPORT,BAHAMAS            FT LAUDERDALE,FLA            ST PETERSBURG,FLA
        TYPE OF ACCIDENT                                         PHASE OF OPERATION
           ENGINE FAILURE OR MALFUNCTION                            IN FLIGHT: NORMAL CRUISE
           WHEELS-UP                                                LANDING: LEVEL OFF/TOUCHDOWN
        PROBABLE CAUSE(S)
           PILOT IN COMMAND - INADEQUATE SUPERVISION OF FLIGHT
           PERSONNEL - FLIGHT ENGINEER: IMPROPER USE OF EQUIPMENT
           MISCELLANEOUS ACTS,CONDITIONS - FUEL STARVATION
           MISCELLANEOUS ACTS,CONDITIONS - IMPROPER EMERGENCY PROCEDURES
           MISCELLANEOUS ACTS,CONDITIONS - INTENTIONAL WHEELS-UP
        FACTOR(S)
           PERSONNEL - MAINTENANCE,SERVICING,INSPECTION: INADEQUATE INSPECTION OF AIRCRAFT (MAINTENANCE PERSONNEL)
           POWERPLANT - FUEL SYSTEM: PUMPS
           SYSTEMS - ELECTRICAL SYSTEM: PROTECTIVE DEVICES
           MISCELLANEOUS ACTS,CONDITIONS - CORRODED/CORROSION
           PILOT IN COMMAND - INADEQUATE PREFLIGHT PREPARATION AND/OR PLANNING
        PARTIAL POWER LOSS - PARTIAL LOSS OF POWER - 4 ENGINES
        EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES - FORCED LANDING OFF AIRPORT ON LAND
        REMARKS- IMPROPER TRANSFER OF FUEL.CIRCUIT BREAKER CORRODED.



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A first hand report from friend Stefan Bailis in Minnesota

I knew the flight engineer who was on the last flight of N6202C: Ed Drozwic. Ed was originally with Slick Airways, and was used to normal Connie fuel systems. Normal Connies have check valves installed in the fuel lines to prevent fuel from being transferred into another tank, a situation that can lead fuel starvation to the engines.  Ed was unaware of the modification Eastern had performed on their Connies, including N6202C. Eastern removed the check valves so as to make it easier to transfer fuel from tank to tank on the ground for maintenance purposes.  They justified this potentially dangerous modification because, while in Eastern service, their routes were so short they had no real need to do crossfeeding.  "Tank to engine" was the norm and thus no risk of fuel being moved unwittingly to another tank.  All well and good--until these planes left Eastern service. 
 
The engineer who was supposed to take the flight, Jim Kent, knew about the Eastern modified fuel system, such as installed on N6202C.  Jim got delayed in getting to the airport--he lived south of Miami--and thus Happy Hours Air Travel Club got Ed to take the flight instead. Jim remembered getting up to Fort Lauderdale just in time to see the plane taxi out.   Ed told me he had the crossfeed valves open but was unaware of the absence of check valves.  One of the fuel boost pumps produced less pressure than the others and all the fuel was transferred gradually to that tank (as they were returning to their home base airport, they didn't have much fuel remaining anyway). The NTSB investigation revealed the circuit breaker serving that boost pump had internal corrosion, which limited current flow to the pump. Ed did not--and could not have known that. I forgot to ask him if the quantity guages were working as that could have told him of the unintended fuel transfer. I don't know who the pilot was but he did a great job of gliding it in to the cow pasture!
 
Sometimes these check valves would stick open.  I thus minimized the use of cross-feed when I was a flight engineer.  Incidentally, I obtained most of my flight engineer training under Jim Kent, who taught me the various pitfalls I might encounter, such as missing or defective check valves.
 
Stef Bailis,
Former flight engineer,
DC-6, DC-7, Constellation series.

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Copyright 2006 Robert A. Bogash.  All Rights Reserved

Revised 28 May 2006