NTSB Identification: MIA97LA194.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, June 24, 1997 in WALLS, MS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/10/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-181, registration: N3692M
Injuries: 3 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.
The flight departed with full fuel tanks for the planned 4 hour 33 minute flight. Three hours 36 minutes into the flight about 49 nautical miles from the destination airport, the pilot requested to descend to 3,500 feet. The performance chart indicates the descent to begin 41.5 nautical miles. About 9 minutes later the pilot noted that the fuel gauges were indicating low and the flight descended to 1,800 feet. The flight continued and about 14 minutes later, the engine sputtered. The pilot repositioned the fuel selector, advised the controller of this who vectored the airplane toward a nearby airport, and shortly after, about 4 hours after takeoff, the engine quit. Unable to land at the vectored airport the pilot selected a field with a resulting hard landing. Postcrash examination of the airplane revealed fuel exhaustion. The carburetor was tested, and near the power setting set by the pilot during the cruise portion the fuel flow was found to be 3.0 pounds-per-hour high due to a failed spring inside the carburetor. The carburetor was 20 years 4 months old and was never overhauled since manufacture although there is no mandatory requirement. Examination of the carburetor revealed evidence of a fuel leak due to 1 loose carburetor bowl to body screw. The airplane was last inspected 5 days and 12 hours earlier in accordance with a 100-Hour inspection but the carburetor was not further examined.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The poor in-flight planning by the pilot for her failure to divert to an alternate airport after recognizing that a low fuel quantity state existed when preflight and in-flight planning revealed sufficient fuel for the flight. Contributing to the accident was the inadequate 100-Hour inspection of the airplane by company maintenance personnel for their failure to note an external fuel leak at the carburetor. Also, fatigue failure of the air metering pin return spring which resulted in excessive fuel flow at cruise power setting and subsequent fuel exhaustion. Full narrative available
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