NTSB Identification: LAX89LA199.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 38724.
Accident occurred Saturday, May 20, 1989 in ARCATA, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/22/1990
Aircraft: PIPER PA-31-350, registration: N35479
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.

WHILE ESTABLISHED ON AN INSTRUMENT APPROACH, THE RIGHT ENGINE LOST POWER. SHORTLY THEREAFTER, THE LEFT ENGINE LOST POWER. THE PILOT WAS UNABLE TO RESTART EITHER ENGINE AND A FORCED LANDING WAS MADE IN AN OPEN FIELD. DURING THE LANDING ROLL, THE AIRPLANE COLLIDED WITH THE TERRAIN. INSPECTION OF THE ENGINE REVEALED THAT THE AUX TANKS WERE EMPTY. THE MAIN FUEL TANKS CONTAINED AN UNKNOWN QUANTITY AND WERE RUPTURED IN THE CRASH SEQUENCE. THE AIRPLANE HAD BEEN OPERATING OFF OF THE AUX TANKS PRIOR TO THE LOSS OF POWER. THERE WERE NO MECHANICAL FAILURES OR MALFUNCTIONS REPORTED WITH THE AIRPLANE OR ENGINES.

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

THE PILOTS INACCURATE FUEL CONSUMPTION CALCULATIONS AND IMPROPER FUEL TANK SELECTOR POSITION. THESE RESULTED IN FUEL STARVATION TO BOTH ENGINES WHEN THE AUX TANKS RAN DRY AND THE MAINS HAD FUEL REMAINING IN THEM. A FACTOR IN THIS ACCIDENT WAS THE ROUGH TERRAIN ENCOUNTERED WHEN THE PILOT WAS FORCED TO LAND SHORT OF THE RUNWAY.

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