This December 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: Cessna 182. Injuries: 1 Minor. Location: Bowie, Texas. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The private pilot topped off both fuel tanks prior to departing on a cross-country flight. Each fuel tank held 40 gallons. The pilot stated that he had difficulty securing the fuel cap on the right wing tank.
About two hours into the flight, with the fuel selector on the left tank, the engine stopped producing power. The pilot noted that the left fuel gauge read empty and he attempted to switch tanks. He was unable to restart the engine and made a forced landing to a snow-covered field.
Examination of the airplane revealed substantial damage to the wings, firewall, and fuselage. In addition, both wing fuel tanks were empty and the fuel cap on the right wing was missing.
Probable cause: A total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot’s failure to properly secure the right wing fuel cap and monitor the available fuel supply.
For more information: NTSB.gov; NTSB Identification: CEN10CA081