Photo: Accident site illustrating lack of fire damage to surrounding area, from NTSB AAB DCA00MA052, photo 2.

Eddie Sez:

The lessons abound from this mishap:

  1. Whenever you fuel your aircraft you should have an idea of how much fuel you started with, how much you asked to have added, and how much you should end up with. If the numbers don't add up, you need to investigate. Further, if your fuel gauges are not reliable, you need to check the quantity using mechanical means prior to every flight. Had these pilots done this, the accident would not have happened.

  2. Both pilots need to be engaged in fueling decisions, it is too easy for one pilot to make a math error and it is imperative there be a cross-check. If either pilot has a doubt, he or she must speak up. Had that happened here, the accident would not have happened.

  3. The only engine-out experience most pilots receive these days is in the simulator. When it happens in the airplane, they can forget the fundamentals and can end up with the airplane turning itself uncommanded. The pilots can end up fixated on the engine and completely forget the priority of keeping the airplane in coordinated flight. It appears this crew was on the ILS when the engine failed and ended up too far off course to continue the approach. Had they stayed on the needles they might have been able to land on the first approach.

  4. One of their engines was developing power at impact, though it had flamed out earlier. It could be that keeping the airplane in coordinated flight would have kept the fuel flowing to the engine and had this been the case, the accident could have been avoided.

What follows are quotes from the relevant regulatory documents, listed below, as well as my comments in blue.


Accident Report


Narrative

[NTSB AAB DCA00MA052, pages 1 - 4.]


Analysis

[NTSB AAB DCA00MA052, pages 12 - 34.]


Probable Cause

[NTSB AAB DCA00MA052, page 34.] The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the flight crew's failure to ensure an adequate fuel supply for the flight, which led to the stoppage of the right engine due to fuel exhaustion and the intermittent stoppage of the left engine due to fuel starvation. Contributing to the accident were the flight crew's failure to monitor the airplane's fuel state and the flight crew's failure to maintain directional control after the initial engine stoppage.

The aircraft crashed because the pilots lost directional control due to the engine failure, and because they were unable to maintain level flight with an engine failed. The engine failed because they failed to ensure they had adequate fuel on board.


See Also:


References

NTSB Aircraft Accident Brief, DCA00MA052, Executive Airlines Flight N16EJ, BAE Systems J-3101, N16EJ, May 21, 2000