Poor fuel management brings down Mooney

Aircraft: Mooney M20R Injuries: 3 Serious. Location: Ravenna, Ohio. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: According to the pilot and pilot-rated passenger, the airplane’s engine lost power while in level flight. The pilot switched fuel tanks and attempted to restart the engine without success.

During the forced landing, the right wing hit a tree at the edge of the field.

Both the pilot and pilot-rated passenger reported that the flight began with about 70 gallons of fuel on-board. The pilot reported that about 60 gallons remained (30 gallons in each tank) when the power loss occurred. After the accident, the left wing fuel tank was nearly full, and about 40 gallons of the 44.5 gallons of usable fuel was drained from that tank. There was no fuel in the right tank because it was ruptured and the right wing separated. The fuel selector was found positioned to the right fuel tank.

A subsequent examination of the airplane, including a thorough inspection of the fuel system, was conducted and no pre-impact anomalies were found.

A functional test of the engine was performed, and no defects in operation were noted. The most recent fueling of the airplane was performed during the airplane’s annual inspection about two months prior to the accident when the airplane was filled with the maximum usable fuel. Based on fuel consumption figures obtained from the engine manufacturer the amount of time recorded on the hour meter, and the engine’s performance during the post-accident engine run, it is likely that the fuel supply in the right wing fuel tank was exhausted, which led to the loss of engine power.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper fuel management, resulting in a loss of engine power.

NTSB Identification: CEN11FA340

This May 2011 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.


  1. Vaughn S. Price says

    Even the Moony has several ways to keep a fuel starved engine running. but the most obvious answer to this mess was what we used to call Head up and locked. no periodic scan of instrument panel which would show fuel gage Fuel pressure, carb temp etc. Plus the ability to run out of Ideas and altitude at the same moment It pays to monitor your instruments!! that way, no surprises

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