The private pilot and a passenger were conducting a night cross-country flight. About 15 miles from the destination, the engine experienced a total loss of power.
The pilot attempted to restart the engine but was only able to obtain momentary engine power each time he pumped the throttle.
He then performed a forced landing to a field, during which the Piper 28-140 hit a tree and fence, resulting in injuries to both on board the plane.
A first responder to the accident stated there was a smell of fuel and the ground was wet at the accident site near Republic, Missouri.
Post-accident examination of the airplane revealed the left wing fuel tank was breached and contained no fuel. The right wing fuel tank was intact. The right tank contained no usable fuel, and the fuel selector was selected to the right tank.
It is likely that the pilot exhausted the fuel supply in the right tank and did not reposition the fuel selector to the left tank, so the engine experienced a loss of power due to fuel starvation.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate fuel management, which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power during cruise flight.
NTSB Identification: CEN16LA079
This December 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.