The pilot reported that, while conducting a preflight inspection on the Beech C24R, he looked inside the wing fuel tanks and estimated that there was about 27 gallons of fuel. He then departed on a local flight to test the avionics and autopilot system.
While returning to the airport after an approximate one-hour flight, the engine experienced a total loss of power, and he attempted a forced landing on the roof of a building in Titusville, Florida.
The airplane crashed through the roof, which resulted in substantial damage to the wings, fuselage, and flight control surfaces.
No visible fuel or fuel odor was noted at the accident site.
A post-accident examination of the airplane revealed that both fuel tanks had been breached and were void of fuel. The fuel strainer sump, which sits forward of the firewall below the fuselage, was found in the open-and-locked position.
When the strainer valve’s tangs were pushed up and rotated counter-clockwise, the sump remained in the open-and-locked position. The sump sprang back to the closed position when the tangs were pushed up and released.
Post-accident fuel consumption calculations and fuel strainer drain testing revealed that the airplane would have burned through and lost about 28 gallons of fuel during the approximate one-hour flight with the strainer drain not properly secured.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s failure to secure the fuel strainer drain during the preflight inspection, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.
NTSB Identification: ERA14LA336
This July 2014 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.