NTSB Identification: CHI98LA283.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, July 29, 1998 in MIDDLETON, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/16/2001
Aircraft: Aero Commander 685, registration: N414C
Injuries: 2 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 pilot stated that the gear deployed sooner than expected and he realized that he was not going to make the runway and subsequently landed approximately 1000 ft short of runway 30. The piloted stated that there should have been 80 gallons of fuel remaining; the gauge indicated 80-85 gallons of fuel. A total of a 1/2 gallon of fuel from the fuel tanks. The fuel gauge indicated 55 gallons of fuel when the electrical master switch was turned 'ON'. There were fuel stains present on top of the wings. The Aero Commander 685 Flight Manual lists the usable fuel capacity with optional fuel tanks to be 322 gallons. A review of fuel records indicate that the airplane was fueled twice prior to departure. Fuelling records provided by the fixed base operator who had fuelled the aircraft show that the aircraft was refueled twice on July 15, 1998 to obtain 278.0 gallons and 13.5 gallons of fuel. The Aero Commander 685 Maintenance Manual provides a 'Indicator Error Envelope' for the fuel system which depicts the maximum allowable tolerance between the weight of fuel in the tanks and the fuel quantity gauge indication. The manual also states, 'The fuel vent outlet tube on the lower wing surface should be checked daily for evidence of foreign material'. The Aero Commander 685 Flight Manual also states that the left and right fuel vent should be checked during the preflight inspection.

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

The fuel starvation of the aircraft in addition to the improper aircraft preflight and premature gear extension by the pilot-in-command. The blocked fuel vent system is a contributing factor.

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