Aircraft: Cessna 210. Injuries: None. Location: Jasper, Ga. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The pilot, who was attempting to land to refuel during a cross-country flight, switched the fuel selector from the right tank which, according to the fuel gauge contained 1/4 tank of fuel, to the left tank which, according to the fuel gauge, showed between 1/3 and 1/2 tank of fuel, then began the descent.
He circled over the airport until reaching traffic pattern altitude, then maneuvered for landing. Due to crosswind conditions at the airport, he had to “crab and slip the airplane” to maintain the proper final approach course.
When the plane was about one mile from the runway threshold, the engine quit. The pilot could not restart the engine, so he made a forced landing to a road.
The post-accident examination revealed that the right fuel tank contained about 14 gallons of fuel, and the left tank contained about nine gallons. A test run of the engine revealed no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.
A service letter issued by the manufacturer about 47 years before the accident and a subsequent airworthiness directive issued by the FAA required the installation of a placard on the instrument panel directly under the fuel quantity indicators which stated, “Avoid landing approaches in red arc and over 30 second slips under 1/2 tank.” The placard was not installed on the airplane at the time of the accident.
Investigators determined that given the airplane’s fuel state at the time of the accident and the absence of mechanical malfunctions in post accident examinations, it is likely that, while the pilot was descending and maneuvering for landing using a prolonged sideslip, the fuel tank outlet became unported, and that the subsequent lack of fuel flow resulted in a loss of engine power.
Probable cause: A loss of engine power due to fuel starvation as a result of the pilot’s prolonged sideslip maneuvers during the descent to landing. Contributing to the accident was the airplane’s lack of a required placard advising pilots to avoid lengthy sideslip maneuvers with fuel tanks less than 1/2 full.
NTSB Identification: ERA13LA053
This November 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.