NTSB Identification: CHI98LA011.
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Accident occurred Thursday, October 09, 1997 in CHARLOTTE, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-23-250, registration: N54738
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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 left-seat pilot stated that before takeoff, the fuel selectors for both engines were set to the 'INBOARD' detents. The cowl flap selectors, located forward of the fuel selectors on the same floor mounted console, were both set to the 'OPEN' positions. At approximately 1200-1300 feet AGL, the co-pilot began to transition the aircraft from climb to cruise, and initiated action to close the cowl flaps. Shortly thereafter, both engines lost total power simultaneously. In attempts to restart the engines, the pilot-in-command tried varying the power level positions, adjusting the mixture control, and turning the fuel pumps on and off. He decided to initiate a forced landing in a soybean field. During the subsequent forced landing, the airplane touched down approximately 150 feet from the end of the field. The airplane slid across the bean field, collided with trees, and came to rest. Examination of the cockpit revealed both fuel selectors to be in the middle position, indicating 'OFF.' The cowl flap selectors were both in the full up and aft position, indicating 'OPEN.' Both pilots stated that the cowl flap selectors were set to the 'OPEN' position during takeoff and climb. The co-pilot stated that he moved the cowl flap selectors to the middle, or 'trail' position, shortly before both engines failed. Neither pilot remembered touching the fuel selectors at any time after takeoff.

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

improper positioning of the fuel selector by the second pilot, which resulted in fuel starvation; inadequate supervision by the pilot-in-command; and failure of the flight crew to follow the published emergency procedures for loss of engine power.

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