NTSB Identification: IAD96LA155.
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Accident occurred Monday, September 30, 1996 in CUMBERLAND, MD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/1998
Aircraft: Merritt ACRO SPORT II, registration: N30803
Injuries: 1 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.

The pilot had flown the experimental airplane once previously for less than one hour. He took off on the active runway, and was one third the way down the 5,048-foot runway at an altitude between 150 to 200 feet when the engine sputtered and surged. The pilot lowered the nose to best glide airspeed when the engine began to run again. The pilot reestablished a climb attitude in order to gain altitude and to try to assess the situation. He elected to do a 180-degree turn and land on the departure runway in the opposite direction. The engine again lost power, and the pilot initiated a turn to line up with the runway. The airplane impacted at the intersection of two runways and slide off the runway onto the grass. The builder did not use an engine driven fuel pump as drawn in the experimental airplane schematics, but utilized an electric fuel pump with an on/off switch in the cockpit. The builder stated that he had briefed the pilot on his earlier flight on the utilization of the electric fuel pump for take off. The pilot could not recall if he used the electric fuel pump.

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

The pilot's failure to select the electric fuel boost pump during take off which resulted in loss of engine power due to fuel starvation and the subsequent forced landing. A factor to this accident was the owner/builder alteration of the fuel system by installing electric fuel pump instead of a engine driven pump as depicted in the airplane's schematics.

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