NTSB Identification: LAX99LA122.
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Accident occurred Thursday, March 18, 1999 in SHELTER COVE, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/02/2001
Aircraft: Aero Commander 500B, registration: CFBCR
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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

Prior to departure the pilot believed that his airplane contained between 30 and 40 gallons of fuel, adequate for a 15-minute-long flight to another airport where he could purchase additional fuel. The pilot reported the fuel gauge registered 40 gallons, so he departed. During initial climb upon reaching an altitude of about 400 feet above the ocean, both engines simultaneously lost power. The pilot rocked the airplane's wings and experienced a 'short surge of power.' However, it lasted only a brief moment and all engine power was again totally lost. The pilot turned toward the shoreline, reduced airspeed, and ditched about 0.25 miles off shore. The overnight tide/wave action subsequently beached most of the airplane. In the pilot's report, he did not indicate having experienced any mechanical malfunctions. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) coordinator examined recovered portions of the airframe and engines. In pertinent part, the FAA reported finding no physical evidence of any mechanical malfunction with the examined components. However, because of the airframe damage sustained during immersion in the salt water and the subsequent destruction to components, the Safety Board was unable to document the integrity of the fuel quantity indicator system.

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

Fuel exhaustion due to the pilot's failure to ensure that an adequate fuel supply was onboard. A contributing factor was the lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing.

Full narrative available

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