The flight was about 60 miles from the destination airport when the pilot reported a total loss of engine power to air traffic control. The controller provided information on nearby airports, and the pilot maneuvered the Raytheon G36 toward the closest airport in Panama City, Florida.
The pilot reported the airport in sight; radio and radar contact were subsequently lost.
A search for the airplane was initiated, and the wreckage was located in a heavily wooded swamp about one mile east of the airport. The pilot died in the crash. There were no known witnesses to the accident.
The fuel tank selector handle was found in the “left main” (left wing tank) position. The left wing tank was not breached, and about one pint of fuel was recovered from the tank.
The right tank was breached, and it contained residual fuel; however there was no evidence of fuel leakage on the ground beneath the tank.
The airplane was fitted with optional wing tip tanks, which were found empty.
The total amount of fuel recovered, including the residual fuel in the tanks and fuel recovered from a small pool of water directly under the airplane, was about 2.5 gallons, which was less than the manufacturer-reported unusable fuel quantity of 6 gallons.
The airplane was last fueled about 28 days before the accident, however the total fuel onboard at that time could not be determined. The propeller blades exhibited no rotational damage or signatures.
Although a shoulder harness was available, the pilot was found in the left seat with only his lap belt fastened. Damage to the airplane’s multi-function display was consistent with impact by the pilot’s head during the accident sequence.
The pilot’s cause of death was blunt force head trauma, and the impact forces that he experienced would likely have been reduced if he had been wearing his shoulder harness.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s inadequate preflight and inflight fuel planning, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion. Contributing to the pilot’s injuries was his failure to use the available shoulder harness.
NTSB Identification: ERA14FA074
This December 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.