The airline transport pilot reported that, before the flight preceding the accident flight, he added 19 gallons of fuel to the Piper PA-30’s auxiliary and main fuel tanks.
He noted that he did not add fuel to the tip tanks and that he had used all the fuel in those tanks during the flight before the accident flight.
He then departed. During the flight, he only used the auxiliary and main fuel tanks and that, while on final approach for landing, he switched from the auxiliary to the main fuel tanks for landing.
Shortly thereafter, the right engine lost power and then the left engine lost power.
He subsequently conducted a forced landing to a road and a field near Mineral Wells, Texas, during which the fuselage and wings were crushed, the empennage was partially separated from the fuselage, and the pilot and one passenger sustained serious injuries.
The examination of both engines, fuel tanks, and related fuel systems revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.
One gallon of fuel was recovered from the right main tank fuel lines, and three gallons were recovered from the left auxiliary tank.
Although no fuel was recovered from the tip fuel tanks, damage signatures on both tip fuel tanks were consistent with both tanks being full of fuel at the time of the accident.
Given this evidence, it is likely that pilot did not use the tip fuel tanks during the previous flight despite believing that he had done so and instead used the main and auxiliary fuel tanks.
The pilot’s fuel mismanagement resulted in fuel starvation to both engines and their subsequent loss of engine power while on final approach to the airport.
Probable cause: The pilot’s fuel mismanagement, which resulted in fuel starvation to both engines and their subsequent loss of engine power.
NTSB Identification: CEN16LA380
This September 2016 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.