This February 2008 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: Zodiac 601XL. Injuries: None. Location: Murrieta, Calif. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: According to the pilot, shortly after takeoff the fuel pressure gauge went to zero and the low fuel pressure light illuminated. The engine quit during the takeoff climb. Following the power loss, the pilot activated the auxiliary fuel pump and tried unsuccessfully to restart the engine, so he turned toward an off-airport emergency landing site. The terrain was uneven. The left main landing gear touched down first and then the nose wheel dug in to the soft ground.
The pilot reported that on the daytime flight he was operating all of his electrical systems, including strobes, transponder,and radios. He said he believed that with the full operation of all the electrical devices, the electrically driven fuel pump did not have sufficient amperage to run. An inspection of the airplane revealed that the carburetor bowl was empty even though there was fuel onboard the airplane. With the fuel pump not operating, fuel was not being supplied to the carburetor, allowing the engine to lose power as a result of fuel starvation. When functionally checked, the fuel pump operated normally.
Probable cause: A loss of engine power due to fuel starvation, which was induced by the electrical system lacking sufficient power to run all of the electrical devices on the airplane and the electrical fuel pump.
For more information: NTSB.gov