This June 2009 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: Rans Coyote II. Injuries: 1 Minor. Location: Williamsburg, Mich. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: According to the pilot/builder, he finished installing wingtip navigation and strobe lights shortly before the accident flight. He told investigators that when he installed the light he routed and secured the associated electrical wiring in the same area as the fuel tank output lines. The pilot then departed on the cross-country flight with a total of 12 gallons of fuel. The left tank contained five gallons, the right tank held seven gallons. The outbound flight leg was completed without any reported problems. The pilot did not refuel before departing on the return flight. When the plane was about eight miles from the destination airport, the engine lost power. The pilot was unable restart the engine and subsequently performed a forced landing into a forest clearing.
After the accident, the right fuel tank still contained seven gallons of fuel. The left fuel tank was empty. The fuel tanks were not damaged. The output fuel lines for the right and left fuel tanks fed into a T-fitting that combined the fuel flow into a single line that serviced the engine. The output fuel lines from each tank were secured to airframe structural tubing with nylon cable-ties. The output fuel line from the right tank was pinched closed where one of the cable-ties was installed, restricting the fuel flow. He stated that he may have tightened the fuel line cable-tie while he installed the navigation/strobe lights. The airplane was not equipped with a fuel tank selector.
Probable cause: The improper installation of the fuel line cable-tie, which resulted in fuel starvation and the loss of engine power.
For more information: NTSB.gov NTSB identification: CEN09CA338