Aircraft: Piper Cherokee. Injuries: 1 Serious. Location: Margaret, Ala. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The pilot and passenger departed on a local flight. The airplane was in cruise flight, about 1,000 feet AGL, when the engine lost power.
Attempts to restart the engine were unsuccessful. The pilot made an emergency landing on a road, and the airplane struck a ditch.
The post-accident examination revealed that the right fuel tank was empty. Fuel was found in the left tank, and it flowed normally when the left tank was selected.
Investigators determined that it was likely that all of the fuel in the right fuel tank was used and, due to the low altitude, fuel from the left tank did not reach the engine for attempted restart before the pilot had to configure the airplane for an off-airport landing.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate in-flight fuel management, which resulted in a total loss of engine power during cruise flight due to fuel starvation.
NTSB Identification: ERA12LA253
This March 2012 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.