New prop throws off pilot’s fuel calculations

This March 2007 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Glasair.
Location: Arvin, Calif.
Injuries: 1 Serious.
Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was flying with a new propeller/engine combination. Approximately 30 miles away from his destination, the engine lost power. The pilot selected what appeared to be a dirt runway as a forced landing site.

As he descended, he realized that it was actually a dirt road. The airplane touched down on the road, then veered to the left and down a small embankment. It rolled into a field and nosed over.

The pilot told investigators that the loss of engine power was due to fuel exhaustion, which he attributed to the propeller change. He explained that with the new propeller the engine ran at a higher rpm, which in turn resulted in a higher fuel consumption. The pilot said that he didn’t account for the higher fuel flow when he calculated his airplane’s fuel consumption for the flight.

Probable cause: Loss of engine power resulting from fuel exhaustion due to the pilot’s failure to refuel the aircraft en route.

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