The pilot reported that, about 10 miles from the destination airport, he switched the left and right fuel tanks from the auxiliary position to the main tank position.
On final approach for landing and when the Piper PA-24-250 was at an altitude of about 500 feet, the engine stopped producing power. The propeller continued to rotate, but the engine did not respond to throttle inputs.
He then switched the fuel selectors from the main tank position back to the auxiliary tank position and turned on the electric fuel boost pumps, but the engine did not regain power.
He added that, each time he moved the fuel selectors, he visually confirmed their position.
He performed a forced landing to a parking lot in Fort Myers, Florida, during which the airframe aft of the engine compartment was fractured and the fuselage was substantially damaged. One person died in the crash, the pilot was seriously injured.
There was no odor of fuel or evidence of fuel spillage at the accident scene; however, the fuel caps were removed, and large quantities of fuel were found in each wing tank.
Examination of the cockpit revealed that both the left and right tank fuel selectors were in the “off” position and that the fuel selector position decal had been displaced upward and over each handle by impact forces, which indicates that the fuel selectors were in the “off” position at impact and not moved later.
Continuity of the fuel system was confirmed from all four fuel tanks, through the fuel selectors, to the fuel supply line forward of the firewall. The engine was test run, and it started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran without interruption at all power settings.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inadvertent placement of both fuel selectors to the “off” position, which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power.
NTSB Identification: ERA15LA149
This March 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.