Misplaced fuel selector valve leads to crash

This September 2010 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: Luscombe 8A. Injuries: 1 Minor. Location: Churchville, Md. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, who initiated a takeoff with the carburetor heat activated, said the takeoff was normal but when the airplane was about 50 feet above the ground the engine lost power when the pilot closed the carburetor heat.

The airplane came down in a field off the departure end of the runway. As he exited the airplane, the pilot noticed that the fuel valve was not locked in the full forward position, rather, it was midway between the “ON” and “OFF” positions. The pilot said he was not positive that he had placed the fuel valve in the “ON” position during his preflight inspection, and that this was the reason for the engine losing power on takeoff.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to ensure that the fuel valve was in the “ON” position during his preflight inspection, resulting in the loss of engine power during takeoff.

For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: ERA10CA467

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