The pilot in the multiengine, retractable-gear-equipped airplane reported that he was flying in instrument meteorological conditions and leveled off at 8,000′ mean sea level.
He began to configure the Piper PA-34 for cruise flight, then realized that the right engine cross-feed fuel selector was positioned for the left tank. The left tank fuel indicator displayed empty, and the right fuel indicator displayed 45 gallons remaining.
He believed that the fuel indicators had malfunctioned, and he established an approach to a nearby highway intersection. The pilot landed with the landing gear stowed on the asphalt highway near Llano, Texas.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the lower fuselage longerons.
Per the National Transportation Safety Board Pilot Aircraft Accident Report, the pilot reported that he became complacent during the flight and vowed to use a checklist in the future.
The pilot has coordinated with his local FAA Safety Team to help prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.
The pilot added there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause: The pilot’s complacency during the en route phase of flight, which resulted in fuel mismanagement and a subsequent gear-up landing.
NTSB Identification: GAA17CA233
This April 2017 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.