Aviation Accident Summaries

Aviation Accident Summary ERA21LA380

Ayer, MA, USA

Aircraft #1




After concluding a visit with a family member, the pilot conducted a preflight of his airplane and departed for his home airport which was 1-hour away and planned to stop for fuel enroute. During the preflight he noticed that he had about 9 gallons of gasoline in the left-wing fuel tank, and none in the right-wing fuel tank so he decided to fly with the fuel selector in the left wing fuel tank position instead of in the “BOTH ON” position as specified for takeoff in the owner’s manual. While at 2,800 feet above mean sea level, when he was about 6.7 miles from his chosen enroute fueling location, the airplane’s engine began to sputter and then incurred a complete loss of power. The pilot then made an off-airport emergency landing in a parking lot, and during the landing roll, the airplane struck a 4- to 5-foot-high pile of debris at the edge of the parking lot. Examination of the airplane revealed that it was substantially damaged, and there was no usable fuel present in either the left- or right-wing fuel tank, or the firewall mounted fuel strainer. During the investigation it was revealed that the pilot had passed up three other airports during the flight as the gas was 20 cents per gallon cheaper at his chosen fuel stop. It was also further revealed that, the pilot would deduce his fuel burn by rules of thumb using one single fuel burn number, rather than using the published cruise and range performance that was in the owner’s manual, and that he was using a fuel dipstick during preflight from another airplane model that was not calibrated for his airplane model, to help determine the amount of fuel in his fuel tanks.

Probable Cause and Findings

The pilot’ improper preflight and inflight planning which resulted in fuel exhaustion.


Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database

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