NTSB Identification: CHI01LA004.
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Accident occurred Friday, October 06, 2000 in SPARTA, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/23/2001
Aircraft: Cessna 172M, registration: N13214
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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

The airplane impacted a tree and terrain following a total nonmechanical loss of engine power. The pilot reported that with the fuel tanks half full there would be 20 gallons of fuel. The pilot calculated that there would be 4 gallons of reserve fuel remaining following a 2-hour flight at a fuel burn of 8 gallons per hour. The airplane was equipped with two main fuel tanks which had a total fuel capacity of 42 gallons, of which 38 gallons were unusable. Federal Aviation Administration publication, FAA-P-8740-03 states that a "safe flight time" is based upon multiplying the usable fuel on board by 75% and dividing that result by the previously confirmed consumption rate. Also, fuel gauges must be calibrated to accurately indicate an empty tank and do not have to be accurate at any other fuel level. The publication also states that the performance and fuel information in the pilot operating handbook is based upon the testing of new aircraft with experienced test pilots. During approach to the airport, the pilot changed his planned landing runway so as to land with a more favorable wind; the engine quit on the base leg of the newly selected runway. The wind at the time of the accident was 360 degrees at 7 knots. Advisory Circular 61-21A, states, "When a forced landing is imminent, wind direction and speed should always be considered, but the main object is to complete a safe landing in the largest and best field available. No evidence of fuel was found aboard the airplane.

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

the pilot's inaccurate fuel consumption calculations, improper fuel management, inadequate in-flight planning/decision, flight to destination alternate not performed, and the discontinued planned approach to the initially selected runway. Contributing factors were the fuel system not understood by the pilot. The tree was additional factor.

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