NTSB Identification: LAX00LA222.
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Accident occurred Thursday, June 08, 2000 in Baker, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/06/2002
Aircraft: Mooney M20D, registration: N31M
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot collided with a sand dune after making a forced landing on a service road. It was during cruise flight when the pilot had first observed the fluctuation (a drop) on the fuel pressure indicator. He reported the same fluctuation after switching from the left tank to the right another hour into the flight. Activating the electric fuel pump had remedied the situation and it was left on for another hour. The fuel tanks were then switched again and the fuel pump was turned off. About 25 minutes had passed when the pressure dropped to zero and the engine lost power. The pilot tried various engine out procedures and to maneuver the airplane in an effort to get the engine to run, but his attempts to restart were unsuccessful. He had been receiving radar flight following service and declared an emergency before landing the airplane on a service road next to some railroad tracks. The left wing was torn and the right main gear had collapsed. The sheriff deputy who responded to the scene did not observe any fuel in the left tank and very minimal fuel in the right wing fuel tank. The deputy also reported the fuel gauges were indicating fuel on board when he turned the master switch on. A post crash inspection of the fuel selector body and screen revealed contamination in the system. The owner photographed the components, which displayed debris in the selector body below the fuel screen area. Both fuel tanks were resealed with a similar colored compound in December 1997. The last annual inspection was performed on the airplane in December 1999. The maintenance technician did not recollect any unusual contamination at the time.

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

The fuel flow became restricted by remnants of fuel tank sealant that had accumulated in the fuel selector screen. Contributing to the pilot's inability to restart the engine in flight was the empty fuel tank in the left wing and the fuel gauge indication. The constrained landing area was also a factor.

Full narrative available

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