NTSB Identification: FTW98LA138.
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Accident occurred Friday, February 27, 1998 in MONROE, LA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/08/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-180, registration: N7998W
Injuries: 1 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.
After a cross-country flight of 4 hours and 24 minutes, the airplane was 8 nautical miles from its destination when the engine lost power. The pilot initially set up for a forced landing on a highway; however, due to traffic on the highway, he elected to land adjacent to the highway. During the landing, the airplane encountered a ditch, impacted a tree, and came to a stop. When the flight was 13 nautical miles from its destination, the pilot had asked air traffic control to check on the availability of fuel at an airport the airplane was passing over. The controller was unable to confirm the availability of fuel, and although the right fuel gage was 'indicating nearly empty,' the pilot decided to continue the flight. He stated that he 'thought' the airplane would be able to reach the destination without difficulty since he had exhausted the fuel in the left tank earlier in the flight and noted that the 'fuel gage registered empty for 20 minutes or so before the engine quit.' There was no leakage or spillage of fuel at the accident site, and the right tank was found to be empty.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's improper decision to continue the flight after noting the low fuel quantity indication, which resulted in the loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion. A factor was the lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing. Full narrative available
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