This December 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: Cessna 210. Injuries: None. Location: Fort Collins, Colo. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The pilot departed on the cross-country flight with 89 gallons of usable fuel on board. Four hours and 20 minutes after engine start up and while on final approach, the engine lost total power. Unable to glide to the runway, the pilot elected to land on a nearby road. During roll-out the airplane’s left wing hit a road sign. According to information downloaded from the airplane’s fuel computer, the plane had consumed 60.2 gallons of fuel at the time of the loss of engine power.
An examination of the airplane after the accident revealed that the right fuel tank contained approximately 25 gallons of fuel. The left tank contained residual fuel but it was compromised during the accident. Fuel calculations indicate that the left tank would have contained less than four gallons when the loss of engine power occurred. The pilot reported that he approached to land with the fuel selector in the left tank position. The airplane’s before-landing checklist states that the fullest tank is to be selected before landing. In addition, a required placard on the fuel selector states that the fullest tank is to be selected for takeoff and landing. Following the accident an engine run was performed with the right fuel tank selected. No anomalies were noted during the engine run.
Probable cause: A total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation as a result of the pilot’s failure to select the fullest tank before landing.
For more information: NTSB.gov