The Cessna 206 was being used as transport for a skydiving operation at Sturgeon Bay, Wis. The pilot departed for a 25-minute flight to drop parachute jumpers above the airport.
In-flight fuel management was through the use of the fuel selector that drew fuel from either the right or the left fuel tank. The pilot said he was instructed during his airplane checkout that the fuel tanks cross feed like other high-wing Cessna airplanes that he was familiar with, and he did not recall anything that was contrary to that within the pilot operating handbook.
There was about 22 gallons of fuel on board, which would have been enough for the flight. He said that he was advised that the entire flight could be flown from the right fuel tank only due to continuous banking.
The pilot took off and climbed using the left fuel tank, which had five more gallons of fuel than the right fuel tank. About 6,500 feet MSL, the engine stopped.
While turning back toward the airport, he switched fuel tanks because the right fuel tank indicated a greater fuel quantity. The engine restarted about 20 to 30 seconds after he switched to the right fuel tank, and the engine continued to operate during the return and climb over the drop zone.
After dropping the jumpers, he slowly reduced engine power and spiraled down for landing. He performed a final check for landing and selected the left fuel tank, which indicated a greater fuel quantity. The engine ran for about 60 seconds after the left fuel tank was selected and then it quit while the plane was on a base leg about a mile from the runway.
The pilot landed the airplane left of the intended runway, about 200 feet from the approach end. The plane flipped over and pivoted on its nose.
Examination of the airplane revealed that the left fuel tank vent system was obstructed with an unknown substance. It is likely that the obstruction prevented fuel flow to the engine and resulted in a total loss of engine power.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident as the pilot’s improper re-selection of the left fuel tank, which had an obstructed vent system and resulted in a total loss of engine power during the approach for landing.
NTSB Identification: CEN13LA330
This June 2015 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.