NTSB Identification: LAX98LA089.
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Accident occurred Friday, February 13, 1998 in CHICO, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/03/1999
Aircraft: Hiller UH-12E, registration: N4027Z
Injuries: 1 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.

During an aerial application flight over an orchard at 40 feet above ground level, the pilot experienced a total loss of engine power. Unable to enter an autorotation due to the low altitude, the pilot landed hard in an open field, and the helicopter was substantially damaged. An examination of the helicopter revealed it was out of fuel. According to the pilot, prior to the mishap the fuel quantity gage had indicated 12 gallons remained in the tank, and evidently the fuel float had become stuck in the tank. The FAA coordinator reported that the conditions which may have produced the discrepancy could not be duplicated during the postimpact testing. However, during the examination when the fuel quantity sender arm was manipulated the float could be induced to hang up vertically. Then, when lowered to the bottom of the tank, the fuel quantity would read 12 gallons. All other system circuitry and component tests were negative. No specific mechanical defect was established.

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

Fuel exhaustion due to the pilot's failure to ensure that an adequate fuel supply was onboard. A contributing factor was related to the fuel quantity gage's erroneous indication of fuel.

Full narrative available

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