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Check Out King Air 200 Training Flight Across the North Atlantic

Written By: Doug Carmody - Feb• 28•14

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C-90 Fuel Mismanagement Accident

Written By: Doug Carmody - Oct• 18•13

What would you do if the cross feed light illuminated? During every C-90 initial and recurrent training event, I ask my students that question. Most get it right, a few miss it. Here’s the NTSB report about a crew that didn’t follow the published abnormal procedures and ended up landing in a field.

Here’s what happened:

On May 25, 2009, about 1146 eastern daylight time, a Beech C90A, landed hard during a forced landing in a field near Yeehaw Junction, Florida. It was VFR at the time and the Part 135 flight was on an IFR flight plan out of Ocean Reef Club Airport (07FA), Key Largo, Florida, to Orlando Executive Airport (ORL), Orlando, Florida. The airplane was substantially damaged and there was no injury to the certificated airline transport pilot and co-pilot, or two passengers. The flight originated from 07FA about 1104 hours.

Earlier on the day of the accident, the accident flightcrew flew the accident airplane to 07FA to pick up two passengers; the flight was uneventful. The flight departed 07FA for ORL with approximately 1,600 to 1,800 pounds of fuel on-board, and at approximately 1108, the flightcrew established contact with the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), and advised the controller that the flight was climbing from 5,000 to 16,000 feet.

The flight continued towards the destination airport and the pilot-in-command (PIC) reported that while in the “Miami area”, he noticed the amber crossfeed light was illuminated on the annunciator panel. They looked at the emergency procedures checklist for boost pump failure but the PIC reported he did not comply with the checklist and did not change the fuel control configuration. At that time they were operating with the crossfeed and both transfer pump switches in “Auto”, and both boost pumps “On.” The PIC reported he did not see any urgency and elected to continue the flight, though he did not monitor the fuel quantity gauges.

The flight was cleared to climb to 17,000 feet, then later while continuing towards the destination airport was cleared to descend to 15,000 feet. Air traffic control communications were transferred to Orlando Approach Control and at 1137, the controller advised the flightcrew to cross the BAIRN intersection at 10,000 feet which they acknowledged. At 1145:37, the flightcrew advised air traffic control that the flight needed to divert to the nearest airport. The controller advised the flightcrew of 2 nearby airports and asked them which one they would like to proceed to. The flightcrew responded and the flight was vectored towards that airport. The controller asked the flightcrew the reason to divert but there was no response; there were no further radio communications received from the flightcrew.

The PIC further stated that while descending to the assigned altitude of 10,000 feet with the autopilot engaged, approximately 15 minutes from the destination airport, they both noticed the left and right red low fuel pressure annunciator warning lights illuminated, followed by loss of power from both engines. They looked for the nearest airport and the PIC was able to restart the left engine. While attempting to restart the right engine the left engine quit again. The PIC maneuvered the airplane for a forced landing in an open field and lowered the landing gear before touchdown. He reported landing hard, bouncing, and becoming airborne momentarily. After coming to rest they evacuated the airplane. The PIC further reported that at no time during the flight did either no fuel transfer warning annunciator lights illuminate.

The co-pilot stated that when the crossfeed light came on, they looked at the checklist but did not recall any checklist for that annunciation. He stated they normally don’t do challenge response with respect to the checklist and they did not do a challenge response related to the crossfeed annunciation. When the PIC used the checklist he did not read it aloud. The PIC advised him the airplane was OK and elected to continue the flight. The flight continued and both fuel pressure annunciators came on within seconds of each other. The PIC advised him that they lost power in both engines. Every light on the annunciator panel was on. The PIC performed restart procedures and he asked air traffic control for vectors. They were able to restart but had no power.

The rest of the flight was spent getting the airplane on the ground safely. When close to the ground they had a high sink rate but the gear was put down. The airplane bounced, landed, then slid sideways. They came to a stop and the PIC began securing the airplane. They all exited the airplane; the PIC was the last person to leave. The fire department arrived 1.0 to 1.5 hours later. After they arrived, they heard a buzzing sound and the PIC said both boost pumps may be still on. He did not hear either boost pump running and went into the airplane and shutdown the entire fuel panel. He turned off the transfer, boost, and crossfeed switches. He estimated he secured the panel 2 hours after the accident.

Here’s how the system works:

During flight with the crossfeed switch in “AUTO”, failure of the left fuel boost pump causes a red colored “L FUEL PRESS” light to illuminate on the annunciator panel, and the crossfeed valve automatically opens allowing the right boost pump to supply fuel to both engines. An amber colored “FUEL CROSSFEED” light will illuminate on the annunciator panel centrally located in the glareshield, and at the same time a fuel pressure switch will sense boost pump fluid pressure and extinguish the red “L FUEL PRESS” light. The amber colored “FUEL CROSSFEED” light will remain illuminated as long as the fuel boost pump is failed or inoperative.

The airplane’s fuel supply system consists of five tanks installed in each wing. Three tanks are located outboard of each wing panel, another tank (center) is located in each side of the wing center section, and the last tank (nacelle) is located in the engine nacelle aft of the firewall. The fuel from the tanks outboard of each wing panel gravity feed to the center tank, and a transfer pump located in each center tank provides fuel to the nacelle fuel tank, which is equipped with a boost pump that provides fuel to the engine-driven high pressure fuel pump. The fuel level in the nacelle tank is automatically maintain at nearly full capacity during normal operation by a fuel transfer system whenever the fuel level in the nacelle tank drops approximately 8 gallons.

The transfer pumps are controlled by float-operated switches on the nacelle tank fuel quantity transmitters. A pressure switch, located in the fuel transfer line, will automatically turn off the transfer pump if a pressure of 1.5 to 4.25 psi is not obtained within approximately 30 seconds from the time the transfer pump switch was turned on, or if the transfer pump fuel pressure drops below 1 plus or minus 0.25 psi due to empty wing tanks or an inoperative transfer pump. A “NO TRANSFER” warning light controlled by a 30 second time-delay relay illuminates when the pump is automatically turned off. The relay is located behind a fuel control panel in the cockpit; a separate relay is installed for the left and right positions.

During normal operation, the crossfeed valve control switch located in the cockpit is in the “auto” position and the crossfeed valve is closed but is armed for automatic operation in the event of a boost pump failure. In that instance, the “Fuel Crossfeed” annunciator light will illuminate and the standby boost pressure is maintained by supplying fuel to both engines through the crossfeed valve from the operating boost pump. For example, if the left fuel boost pump fails and the crossfeed valve switch in the cockpit is in the “auto” position, fuel to both engines will be supplied by the right fuel tanks. Fuel from the fuel tanks of the inoperative side boost pump can still be supplied to its respective engine by moving the crossfeed valve control switch to the off position closing the valve and relying on the engine-driven high pressure fuel pump. Operating the engine-driven high pressure fuel pump without the aid of the boost pump is limited to 10 hours accumulated, after which the pump must be overhauled or replaced. To operate with the crossfeed valve closed with an inoperative boost pump, the pilot must determine if continuation of flight is possible.

Here’s what the NTSB discovered:

Examination of the accident site revealed the airplane came to rest upright in a large open pasture; the airplane was located at 27 degrees 45.711 minutes North latitude and 080 degrees 59.190 minutes West longitude. Three marks on ground associated with the landing gears depict an arching turn to the right after touchdown. The airplane came to rest approximately 978 feet from the first mark made by the landing gear. Further examination of the ground beneath both wings revealed no browning of grass beneath the left wing, but dead grass (evidence of fuel leak) was noted beneath the left outboard wing fuel tank sump drain valve.

Examination of the airplane revealed no pre or postcrash fire was noted to any component of the airplane. The right main landing gear wheel assembly was separated at outer lower trunnion, and the left main landing gear was displaced aft and outboard. The nose landing gear was extended and no visible damage was noted. The leading edge of the right horizontal stabilizer exhibited impact damage possibly from the separated right main landing gear wheel assembly. Aileron, elevator, and rudder flight control continuity was confirmed from cockpit to each control surface.

Examination of the left wing revealed the airframe fuel filter bowl was full; no contaminants were noted. The firewall shutoff valve was in the “open” position which agreed with the cockpit switch. Approximately 12 ounces of straw colored fuel were drained from the outboard wing sump drain valve. Greater than 50 gallons of fuel were drained from the nacelle and center fuel tanks; the nacelle tank was visually full. No contaminants were noted in the fuel sample taken from the nacelle tank. The outboard attach rib was separated from aft spar aft of the engine fairing, and the inboard forward spar was fractured at the nacelle, which was rotated forward and down. The upper skin aft of engine nacelle separated from aft spar. Operational testing of the boost pump revealed it did not operate using the aircraft’s battery power, though battery voltage (24 volts) was noted at wires at the boost pump. The boost pump was retained for further examination.

Examination of the right wing revealed no fuel was found in the outboard wing tank when checked at the tank sump drain valve, while 16 ounces of jet fuel were drained from the center tank. A total of 42 ounces of jet fuel were drained from the nacelle tank. The airframe fuel filter bowl was drained and contained less than 2 ounces; the fuel was black in color. The firewall shutoff valve was in the “open” position which agreed with the cockpit switch. A fuel sample taken from the transfer pump drain was straw colored. The 1st rib inboard of the tip exhibited a diagonal buckle, and the upper skin was wrinkled at wing panel attachment. The engine nacelle was noted to be distorted down slightly. The boost pump operated satisfactorily when checked using available airplane battery power.

Operational testing of both fuel transfer pumps was performed using the aircraft’s battery power. The testing revealed both pumped fuel into their respective nacelle tanks; however, the right no fuel transfer annunciator did not illuminate when the right center fuel tank was empty. Additionally, the transfer pump continued to operate longer than 1 minute though there was no fuel in the center fuel tank.

Examination of the fuel control panel in the cockpit revealed no damage to it or the surrounding area. The fuel control panel was lowered for inspection which revealed the No. 1 terminal of the right no transfer time delay relay was broken. Wires identified as TBI-21-XK4-1 and XK4-1-S9-6 solder joints remained attached to the separated portion of the broken terminal. The relay was properly attached to the fuel control panel. The separated terminal with attached electrical wires were connected to the remaining portion of the terminal on the relay, and with battery power applied, and transfer pump in “Auto”, and no fuel in the center tank, the no fuel transfer light came on in approximately 35 seconds and the transfer pump turned off simultaneously. Visual inspection of the left no fuel transfer time delay relay revealed it too was properly attached to the fuel control panel. Inspection of the relay using a mirror revealed no evidence of any discrepancies. While carefully cutting tie wraps to remove the left relay, a wire from the No. 6 terminal separated; the No. 6 terminal is to ground. The left and right no transfer time delay relays were retained for further examination.

Before the fuel in either wing were sump drained, examination of the cockpit revealed that with airplane battery power applied and the fuel quantity selector positioned to total, the left and right fuel quantity indicators indicated 650 pounds and off scale low, respectively. With airplane battery power applied and the fuel quantity selector positioned to nacelle, the left and right fuel quantity indicators indicated 400 pounds and 0 pounds, respectively. The right nacelle tank was then sump drained and approximately 4 gallons of fuel were added to it; the fuel quantity gauge did reflect the added fuel amount with the fuel quantity total test switch in the “nacelle” position.

Examination of both engines was performed by a representative of the engine manufacturer with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight. The inspection of both revealed the engine ignition system functionally checked satisfactory per the engine maintenance manual procedures; both igniters operated properly. The gas generator of both engines rotated freely and did not produce abnormal noises when turned by hand via the starter-generator cooling fan. This method rotated all accessory drive gears, rear mounted accessories, the engine compressor and compressor turbine. The power section of both engines rotated freely and did not produce abnormal noises when turned by hand via the propeller. This method rotated all reduction gearbox gears, accessory drive gears, front mounted accessories and power turbine.

Visual inspection of the left and right propellers revealed all blades were bent at varying degrees and lengths from the propeller hub.

Here’s what to do if it happens you:

The NTSB reported that: “The PIC reported he did not see any urgency and elected to continue the flight”

In my opinion, this is where the accident became inevitable. If the FUEL CROSSFEED annunciator light illuminates in flight, pilot action is required. It is not something to ignore. It is not normal. In all probability, you have lost a boost pump and both engines are now feeding fuel from one tank. Fuel management becomes an issue. You are now burning 85 +/- gallons an hour out of one tank. You will flame out both engines if you do not take this into account. Closing the cross feed and suction feeding fuel to the high pressure fuel pump is a consideration. That’s what the checklist is for. Use it!

Review of the emergency procedures section of the Pilot’s Operating Handbook and FAA Approved Airplane Flight Manual revealed a section associated with boost pump failure. A note indicates that when operating with the crossfeed in “Auto”, “a boost pump failure will be denoted only by the illumination of the FUEL CROSSFEED annunciator. To identify the failed boost pump, momentarily placed the crossfeed in the closed position. The FUEL PRESS annunciator on the side of the failed boost pump will illuminate. Then place across the crossfeed switch in the open position. The fuel pressure annunciator will then extinguish.”

The steps of the checklist further indicate:

1.         Inoperative Fuel Boost Pump – OFF

2.         Determine whether continuation of flight with crossfeed open is possible.

Review of the emergency procedures section of the Pilot’s Check List indicates that for boost pump failure (fuel crossfeed, fuel pressure annunciator), the steps are:

1.         Inoperative Fuel Boost Pump – Off

2.         Determine whether continuation of flight with crossfeed open is possible.

3.         To continue flight with crossfeed closed, satisfactory operation may be obtained by:

a.         Reducing power

b.         Descending to a lower altitude

c.         Waiting for fuel to cool.

Disclaimer: I’m using this accident as a learning experience. I’m not disparaging the pilots. I wasn’t there.

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The Importance of Preflighting Your King Air, Part II

Written By: Doug Carmody - Oct• 15•13

Maybe a trend developing? Check those door pins!

The cabin door fell off a King Air 200 taking off from California’s Monterey Regional Airport on last Thursday 10/10/13. The location of the 75-pound door was unknown until later the next morning, when it was discovered on roof of a local motel, according to The Californian of Salinas.  According to the Californian’s account, “the pilot heard a pop, and believing that the door had opened, he immediately turned around to land. It wasn’t until he was back on the ground that he realized the door was missing. The pilot and his passenger were not injured.

Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified of the incident. But since they are closed, elected to ignore the event.

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Simple distraction

Written By: Doug Carmody - Aug• 13•13


Simple Distraction

In flying, it’s the simple things that can lead to trouble. Watch as a practice gear extension develops into a stall warning. See if you can pick up the clue that no one is flying the airplane. This was a planned training exercise. Hint: The autopilot is engaged in altitude hold. The goal was to emphasize  that as a single pilot it is imperative that you fly the airplane!


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Short Field Landings

Written By: Doug Carmody - Jul• 06•13


Condition levers at high idle

Do you use High Idle for BE-200 Short Field Landings?

You should. During a recent BE-200 training event in Fresno, the owner/pilot wanted to explore the short field capabilities of his King Air. We picked several 2500-2800′ strips to practice his technique. Not especially short, but being narrow as well, they gave the illusion of being tight, adding to the realism. Having a couple of crop dusters parked off to the side completed the sight picture. Before departing, we discussed the technique he would be using as we ran through the landing distance charts. Conspicuously absent from his briefing was any mention of high idle. I’ve found this omission to be consistent with most King Air 200 pilots. Of course, selecting high idle is dependent upon whether or not you plan on using reverse thrust. If you don’t use reverse, high idle is not necessary. Most pilots are naturally going to use reverse thrust on a short field. My student was no exception. After calculating the stopping distance, we came up with 1300′ utilizing maximum reverse and about 1800′ without using reverse. The approach speed was 99 knots. So obviously, using reverse thrust was a prudent choice. After flying to the field, we set up for a long final. I asked him if he was going to push the conditions levers to high idle. He responded, no, he didn’t think it would make much difference. After getting back, I had him review the short field procedure and in two places in the POH Beech requires using high idle. Although the only published short field procedure is listed as “Maximum Reverse Landing”, it directs the pilot to use high idle. The other location is in a note on the “Land Distance with Reverse Chart”. It also requires high idle in order to meet the published landing distance. As with many things in flying, devil is in the details.



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Boost Pump Failure – Suction Feeding Revisited

Written By: Doug Carmody - May• 28•13

Most C-90 pilots understand the sequence of events that transpire in the event of a boost pump failure. A red fuel pressure light illuminates and is quickly extinguished as the cross feed opens automatically allowing the functioning electric boost pump to supply fuel pressure to both high pressure engine driven pumps.  This eliminates the possibility of cavitation of the high pressure pump due to suction feeding.  It also prevents engine surging at high power settings and negates the need to record any time against the 10 hour overhaul requirement of the high pressure pump during suction feed operation. So far, so good. Of course, since we are talking about a King Air, there is more to the story. Did you know that boost pump failure can lead to engine failure? Here’s how:

Boost pump failure during a rapid climb-out will cause a gradual power loss on the affected engine starting  at approximately 13,000 feet. This altitude varies with the fuel temperature in the tank. A higher fuel temperature will cause a gradual power loss at a lower altitude. Interestingly, a complete power loss will occur if the climb is continued under these circumstances. This power loss results from the highly aerated condition of the fuel caused by rapidly decreasing tank pressure during a rapid climb. This allows the air trapped in the fuel to expand. However, once the fuel tank pressure has stabilized and excess air has escaped from the fuel, the loss of a boost pump has less effect on the engine operation at maximum power settings.  It is impossible to determine how much time is required to stabilize the fuel from the highly aerated condition because it is a function of both rate of climb and fuel temperature. Fuel stabilization should occur after a few minutes of stabilized cruising operation. If in doubt, open the crossfeed! Descents from a high altitude with the boost pump inoperative do not affect engine operation.

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Compressor Wash

Written By: Doug Carmody - Jan• 17•13

Q: I live in Florida. How often should I do a compressor wash on my PT-6?

A: Pratt & Whitney recommend that you do a compressor wash at least once a week if the airplane is exposed to occasional salt air.


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The Importance of Preflighting your King Air

Written By: Doug Carmody - Jan• 07•13

I recently trained a student that experienced an interesting event while flying an E-90. While cruising at FL210, the upper door latch failed from fatigue. The upper portion of the door opened about six inches resulting in an explosive decompression. The pilot stated one of the more unusual aspects of the rapid loss of cabin pressure was the amount of dirt and sand that was sucked out of the carpet. The airplane was a 1972 model with approximately 10,000 hours. As the King Air fleet ages, it’s important to thoroughly preflight the airplane. On older models, pay particular attention to the door pin brackets and the possibility of fatigue cracks.


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Split Flap Procedures

Written By: Doug Carmody - Dec• 18•12

QUESTION: Are there any split flap procedures on the C-90?

ANSWER: I get this question frequently in ground school. There are no emergency procedures for a split flap situation. If the wing flaps are inoperative, the airplane should be landed in the existing flap configuration. If you have a flap malfunction, ensure flap position is visually inspected prior to resetting the flap handle to the previous position. Once reset, the flap motor CB should be pulled to prevent inadvertent flap movement. It should be noted that the military flight tested the aircraft under all possible asymmetric flap configurations and found the airplane to be fully controllable.

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Prist Does Not Kill Microbes

Written By: Doug Carmody - Jun• 21•12

Prist does not kill fuel microbes. Although the King air rarely experiences fuel system icing, many pilots order Prist when re-fueling in the mistaken belief that any microbial growth in the tanks will be killed. Prist is a Biostat. A Biostat can keep an outbreak of microbes from continuing to grow, but it won’t kill them. Only a Biocide can eradicate growth in fuel tanks. How do you know that you have growth in your fuel tanks? The signs can vary. Obviously clogged filters, contaminated tank bottoms, or fuel samples that have green or brown slimy formations are all definitive signs of bacterial growth. Untreated, this problem can lead to corrosion and damage to the structural integrity of the airplane. Of course, the worst-case scenario is the loss of an airplane due to engine failure. So, what exactly are these microbes? The scientific names for organisms that live in jet fuel are Cladosporium Resinae and Pseudomonas Aeruqinosa. I doubt, however, these names will catch on with King Air pilots. These microbes live and multiply in the water found in jet fuel. By living in the water, they can feed off the hydrocarbons in the fuel. As they grow, they form dark colored mats that appear gel – like. Their waste products include acids, sludge and water. Not content with feeding off of just hydrocarbons, they also consume rubber gaskets, hoses, tank linings, and O-rings. Pilots should be aware of the signs of microbial growth in their airplanes. If growth is suspected a microbial detector kit is the most effective way to test for microbial infestation. If an infestation is present, a Biocide can eradicate the growth. Fortunately for those pilots that rarely sump their fuel tanks, most FBO’s treat their stored fuel with a Biocide prior to selling it.

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