The pilot stated he had an uneventful cross-country flight and on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern at the airport in Salisbury, N.C., he switched the fuel selector from the right tank to the left tank and turned on the boost pump.
While on short final approach, the engine started losing power as the Piper PA-32RT-300T was about 75 feet above ground level. The plane subsequently hit terrain about 600 feet short of the runway and came to rest upright.
The pilot reported that at the time of the engine power loss, he pushed all the controls, mixture, propeller, and throttle, full forward and the engine rpm started to increase, but then quickly decreased again.
He then shut off the master switch and walked to the FBO to get help. He then walked back to the airplane, shut the ignition off and took his keys and headset out of the airplane. He added he did not touch the fuel selector.
Examination of the wreckage by an FAA inspector revealed damage to the wings, landing gear, and stabilator. The inspector also noted that although adequate fuel remained in both fuel tanks, the airplane fuel selector was in the “off” position.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inadvertent switching of the fuel selector to the “off” position on final approach, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.
NTSB Identification: ERA16CA011
This October 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.