Fuel mismanagement leads to forced landing

This August 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: Cessna T210N.

Location: Old Bridge, N.J.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: According to the airplane’s maintenance records, it received an STC for auxiliary fuel wingtip tanks on Feb. 27, 1979. The wingtip tanks provided fuel to the main fuel tanks, but not directly to the engine. During a long cross-country flight, the pilot stopped to refuel. Fuel was added to the wingtip fuel tanks but not to the main tanks. The pilot took off again. About 10 minutes later, during approach to the destination airport, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power. Unable to restore power, the pilot performed a forced landing on a racetrack. The airplane hit a fence and a cement barrier during the landing.

Examination of the wreckage revealed that the main fuel tanks were intact and empty. The fuel pumps that were supposed to facilitate the transfer of fuel from the tip tanks to the main tanks were found in the “off” position.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper fuel management, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation during approach.

For more information: NTSB.gov

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