NTSB Identification: LAX99LA084.
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Accident occurred Friday, January 29, 1999 in JEAN, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/30/2000
Aircraft: Maule M-4-220C, registration: N474W
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the pilot, he had flown to the airport to purchase fuel but was not successful. Therefore, he planned to fly back to his home base airport. The pilot reported that three of his airplane's four fuel tanks were either empty or contained at most 5 gallons of fuel. The pilot selected the left main fuel tank for use during takeoff, and the airplane climbed between 400 and 500 feet before experiencing a total loss of engine power. Thereafter, the pilot made a forced landing beyond the departure end of the runway and collided with the airport's perimeter fence. While still on scene immediately following the accident, the pilot reported that he had evidently exhausted his airplane's fuel supply. Then, the pilot partially disassembled his airplane and moved it from Nevada to North Carolina. About 2 months later, the pilot indicated to the Safety Board investigator that he desired to clarify the initial information which he had provided. According to the pilot, during the accident flight his airplane had contained between 24 and 26 gallons of fuel, but only an estimated 5 gallons of this quantity was in the left main fuel tank, which was selected during takeoff. Additionally, the engine driven fuel pump was examined in North Carolina and was found contaminated with metal shavings and other debris. The rubber diaphragm had small holes and cuts in that could have reduced the pump's ability to deliver full designed pressure. No record was found in the maintenance records that the pump was ever replaced and it is believed that it is an original production installation on the engine.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

Fuel starvation due to the pilot's failure to ensure that a tank containing an adequate fuel supply was selected for takeoff. A factor in the accident was the contamination in the engine driven fuel pump, which likely was not capable of providing full system pressure.

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