NTSB Identification: CHI95LA236.
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Accident occurred Friday, July 21, 1995 in WATERTOWN, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/06/1995
Aircraft: PIPER PA-24-250, registration: N999JS
Injuries: 1 Serious,2 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.

AS THE AIRPLANE NEARED ITS DESTINATION THE PILOT SWITCHED FROM THE RIGHT TO LEFT FUEL TANK. ABOUT FIVE MINUTES AFTER SWITCHING FUEL TANKS THE AIRPLANE'S ENGINE EXPERIENCED A TOTAL LOSS OF POWER. DURING ITS FORCED LANDING APPROACH THE AIRPLANE STRUCK ELECTRIC POWERLINES AND THEN COLLIDED WITH THE GROUND. THE ON-SCENE EXAMINATION OF THE AIRPLANE REVEALED NO FUEL IN ANY OF ITS FUEL TANKS. ABOUT 1/2 OUNCE OF FUEL WAS FOUND IN THE FUEL SUMP. NO FUEL WAS FOUND IN THE CARBURETOR. EXAMINATION OF THE MAIN FUEL TANK BLADDERS REVEALED THE OUTBOARD, TOP, SECTION OF THE LEFT BLADDER WAS FOLDED OVER AND COLLAPSED. THE FUEL GAUGES DID NOT WORK ACCORDING TO THE PILOT. THE FUEL GAUGE SENDING UNITS ARE LOCATED NEXT TO THE WING ROOT. RESEARCH SHOWED THE FUEL SENDING UNITS WOULD READ THE LEFT FUEL TANK VOLUME LEVEL, BASED UPON FUEL LEVEL, NOT ACTUAL QUANITY.

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

fuel exhaustion resulting from the improper fuel bladder installation by maintenance personnel. Factors associated with this accident were the collapsed fuel bladder that eliminated about 30 percent of the available fuel in the left tank that the pilot had been relying upon for the flight and operating the airplane with a known equipment deficiency: fuel tank quanity indicators.

Full narrative available

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