Aviation Accident Summaries

Aviation Accident Summary ERA21LA307

Carrollton, AL, USA

Aircraft #1




Earlier that day, the pilot had flown the airplane on three flights with no airframe or engine issues reported. Prior to the accident flight, he used a dipstick to determine the total quantity of fuel in the left and right fuel tanks, noting they contained 4 gallons and 3 gallons, respectively. He added that the total amount did not account for the unusable fuel amount, which according to the airplane Type Certificate Data Sheet totaled 3.5 gallons. After takeoff with about 3.5 gallons of usable fuel on-board for the flight requiring 4 gallons, the flight climbed to 2,500 ft mean sea level where the pilot leaned the fuel to air ratio and proceeded towards the destination, with slight deviation due to weather while en route. He reported that as the flight continued, he knew he was low on fuel and when south of a nearby airport, he looked at his fuel gauges and in hindsight knew he should have landed there. He elected to continue, and after flying about 35 minutes, he “ran out of [fuel] 8 miles before [he] got there.” About the time of the loss of engine power the left fuel gauge was indicating more than 1/2 gallon and the right fuel gauge indicated empty, but they were lower than he had ever seen them. After experiencing a loss of engine power, he spotted a field below and performed S-turns and slips but landed faster than he liked. While at a slow speed, the nose landing gear rolled into a hole causing it to separate. The airplane came to rest upright with the tail elevated. The pilot, who was also an airframe and powerplant mechanic, reported that following the accident he drained the fuel strainer and only 2 ounces were recovered. He also drained a little over 1/2 gallon of fuel from the left fuel tank and no fuel from the right fuel tank. On the submitted NTSB Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report and also verbally, he indicated there was nothing mechanically wrong with the airframe or engine that caused the fuel exhaustion. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received a report of damage to the airplane and inspected it on July 28, 2021; prior to this the event was not reported. Extensive damage to the engine mount was noted which constituted substantial damage. With no fuel in the fuel tanks and electrical power applied, the left fuel gauge was reading slightly above empty while the right fuel gauge was reading empty.

Probable Cause and Findings

The pilot’s incorrect preflight planning and poor in-flight planning, resulting in fuel exhaustion. Contributing to the damage was the inadvertent encounter with a hole during the forced landing.


Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database

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