The flight instructor stated that a preflight visual inspection of the Beech 19’s fuel tanks indicated that the fuel in each tank was just above the tabs, which corresponded to 30 total gallons of fuel on board.
He added that a pretakeoff engine run-up revealed no anomalies.
He and the student pilot departed on the instructional flight and flew for about 30 minutes using fuel from the left fuel tank before switching to the right tank.
The student reported that, when they switched fuel tanks, the left tank gauge indicated “just above half” full, and the right tank gauge indicated “slightly higher” than half full.
Shortly after, the student activated the carburetor heat and reduced engine power to idle to perform a simulated engine failure and forced landing. However, when he applied the throttle at the conclusion of the simulation, engine power did not increase.
The flight instructor performed a forced landing near Weatherford, Texas, during which the airplane hit a tree.
Post-accident examination of the airplane revealed that the fuel selector was positioned to the left fuel tank, which was undamaged and contained no fuel. The right fuel tank contained about 14 gallons of fuel. The fuel lines from the engine firewall to the carburetor did not contain fuel. The fuel quantity transmitters were not tested, and their accuracy was not determined.
No mechanical anomalies were noted that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane, and the loss of engine power is consistent with fuel starvation.
Probable cause: The flight instructor’s inadequate in-flight fuel management, which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power.
NTSB Identification: CEN17LA179
This May 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.