The pilot departed on a local agricultural application flight in a Grumman G-164 Ag Cat with what he believed was sufficient fuel on board for two hours of flight.
He stated that he based this assumption solely on viewing the fuel quantity gauge and did not insert a stick in the fuel tank to check the fuel amount before departing on the accident flight.
About 1 hour 15 minutes into the flight, the airplane lost engine power, and the pilot subsequently conducted a forced landing on muddy and water-logged terrain near Foster, Nebraska.
The airplane then nosed over and sustained substantial damage.
The pilot reported that, during a post-accident examination, the fuel quantity gauge read 1/4 full even though the fuel system was actually empty.
The preflight procedures contained in the airplane’s flight manual included a fuel quantity check, which was to be accomplished by opening the fuel cap and visually checking the fuel level, and a fuel gauge check to observe the fuel gauge for proper reading. The pilot did not verify the fuel quantity in accordance with these procedures before departing.
Probable cause: The total loss of engine power during a low-level aerial application flight due to fuel exhaustion following the pilot’s inadequate preflight inspection that led to his assumption that sufficient fuel was on board for the flight based on his reliance on a fuel gauge that indicated the incorrect fuel level.
NTSB Identification: CEN15LA271
This June 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.