NTSB Identification: SEA97FA106.
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Accident occurred Saturday, May 10, 1997 in TIGARD, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/28/2000
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-200, registration: N55676
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot flew to a local airport for lunch with the passenger. The airplane was full of fuel, and no problems had previously been reported with it. After lunch, the airplane returned to the departure airstrip. During approach, about 1/2-mile from the runway, the engine began to run rough as the airplane was about 200 feet above wooded terrain. The pilot reversed course and attempted a landing in an open field. The airplane struck trees and terrain as the engine began to regain power. The wreckage was subjected to a post-crash fire. Examination of the engine/airframe did not reveal any evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction. Defoliated trees near the impact site of the left wing indicated the left fuel tank had a significant quantity of fuel at the time of impact. The lack of fuel, fire damage and hydraulic deformation of the right wing, which was found near an area of intense fire, indicated that the right fuel tank was almost empty. The fuel selector valve was found in the RIGHT or OFF position, and it does not have a BOTH selection. The airplane would have consumed more than the max usable capacity of either wing if used exclusively.

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

The pilot's failure to properly manage the aircraft fuel supply, which led to fuel exhaustion of the right tank and subsequent fuel starvation/power loss of the engine during the final approach. Factors contributing to the accident were the lack of sufficient altitude to effect a recovery, and the lack of suitable terrain for a successful forced landing.

Full narrative available

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