The pilot was departing on a short cross-country flight to deliver the Cessna 172C for some elective maintenance.
He requested and received clearance for an intersection departure at the airport in Fairbanks, Alaska.
After departure, an air traffic controller instructed the pilot to turn left and proceed on course, but he did not respond.
Controllers reported observing the plane initiating a left turn before descending and hitting terrain on the south side of the airport property, killing the pilot and seriously injuring two other people.
Post-accident examinations of the airplane revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.
However, the examinations did reveal propeller signatures consistent with the engine not producing power at the time of impact. About two gallons of what appeared to be 100LL aviation fuel was drained from the right fuel tank and about 0.5 gallon of fuel was drained from the left fuel tank at the accident site. The drained fuel was clean, and no water was present.
The carburetor fuel bowl was removed, and it contained only a small amount of fuel. The accelerator pump was actuated by hand, and it did not discharge fuel. No fuel leakage was noted at the accident site.
Given the amount of fuel removed from the airplane at the accident site and the propeller signatures consistent with a lack of power, it is likely that the loss of engine power resulted from fuel exhaustion.
A Boeing 737 departed the parallel runway about one minute, 45 seconds before the Cessna 172 departed. Although it is possible that wake turbulence existed in the 737’s departure corridor, no evidence was found indicating that the 172 experienced wake turbulence.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s failure to ensure that adequate fuel was on board the airplane, which resulted in fuel exhaustion and a subsequent collision with terrain.
NTSB Identification: ANC14FA002
This October 2013 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.