As the Beech C90 was descending toward its destination airport, the pilot reported to an air traffic controller en route that he needed to change his destination to a closer airport because the airplane was low on fuel. The controller advised him to land at an airport that was four miles away near Springdale, Ark.
Shortly after, the pilot contacted the alternate airport’s air traffic control tower and reported that he was low on fuel. The tower controller cleared the airplane to land, and, about 30 seconds later, the pilot advised that he was not going to make it to the airport.
The airplane subsequently hit a field 3.25 miles southeast of the airport, killing both people on board the plane.
One witness reported hearing the engine sputter, and another witness reported that the engine “did not sound right.”
Forty-foot power lines crossed the field 311 feet from the point of impact. It is likely that the pilot was attempting to avoid the power lines during the forced landing and that the plane then experienced an inadvertent stall and an uncontrolled collision with terrain.
About one quart of fuel was observed in each fuel tank. No evidence of fuel spillage was found on the ground; no fuel stains were observed on the undersides of the wing panels, wing trailing edges, or engine nacelles; and no fuel smell was observed at the accident site.
However, the fuel totalizer showed that 123 gallons of fuel was remaining. Magnification of the annunciator panel light bulbs revealed that the left and right low fuel pressure annunciator lights were illuminated at the time of impact.
About a month before the accident, the pilot had instructed the FBO at Camden, Arkansas, to put 25 gallons of fuel in each wing tank; however, it is unknown how much fuel was already onboard the airplane.
Although the fuel totalizer showed that the airplane had 123 gallons of fuel remaining at the time of the crash, information in the fuel totalizer is based on pilot inputs, and it is likely the pilot did not update the fuel totalizer properly before the accident flight. The pilot was likely relying on the fuel totalizer instead of the fuel gauges for fuel information, and he likely reported his low fuel situation after the annunciator lights illuminated.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as a total loss of power to both engines due to fuel exhaustion. Also causal were the pilot’s reliance on the fuel totalizer rather than the fuel quantity gauges to determine the fuel on board and his improper fuel planning.
NTSB Identification: CEN14FA035
This November 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.