Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: None. Location: Bardstown, Ky. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The CFI and student pilot had practiced various maneuvers during the training flight and were returning to the airport. The airplane was about 2,500 feet AGL and within gliding distance of the airport when the flight instructor turned the fuel selector to the “OFF” position so the student pilot could practice engine failure procedures.
The student pilot trimmed the airplane for best glide speed, initiated a turn toward the airport, and reviewed the pertinent emergency procedure guidance in the pilot operating handbook. The student could not locate the airport until the CFI directed him.
When the student was unable to restart the engine, the CFI took control of the airplane and tried to restart the engine. His efforts to restart the engine were also unsuccessful, and believing it was too risky to try to reach the airport, he selected the best available field for a forced landing.
During the landing, the nose landing gear hit the ground and the firewall was substantially damaged.
The student pilot, who was also a mechanic, reported that there were no pre-impact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal engine restart and operation.
Although no regulations prohibit turning the fuel selector to the OFF position while practicing engine failure procedures, the practice results in an actual, not a simulated, loss of engine power, and is therefore inherently more risky than a reduction in engine power to idle, especially when initiated at a low altitude.
Probable cause: The flight instructor’s decision to turn the fuel selector to the off position and his delayed remedial actions to restart the engine, which resulted in fuel starvation and a subsequent forced landing.
NTSB Identification: ERA12CA546
This August 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.