NTSB Identification: LAX01FA212.
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Accident occurred Saturday, June 16, 2001 in Flagstaff, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/30/2004
Aircraft: Schultz Lancair IV-P, registration: N424E
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The homebuilt experimental airplane was approaching its destination airport after a cross country flight of 3 hours 12 minutes duration when it lost engine power. The airline transport pilot reported to air traffic control that he was not going to make it to the airport and was going to crash. The airplane impacted trees and terrain about 2 miles from the airport. The FAA inspector, who responded to the accident site, reported the right fuel tank was empty, the left fuel tank was compromised by impact damage, and the fuel selector was on the left tank. A post accident examination of the engine revealed no preaccident anomalies. Examination of the right wing fuel tank revealed that a required fuel vent was not drilled into the spar. According to the builder of another experimental airplane of this design, the lack of the vent would have made filling the tank problematic as the affected section of the tank had no way to vent, and therefore, it would have been difficult to completely fill the tank, and there would have been no way to confirm how much fuel was in the tank. The owner of the airplane reported he had previously experienced problems getting the fuel tanks to accept the total designed fuel capacity of 80 gallons; however, he and the pilot believed this problem had been fixed. Additionally, a few days prior to the accident, the pilot had taken the airplane to a maintenance facility to correct several discrepancies, one of which was "problems with the fuel quantity indicating system." A mechanic reported that the pilot told him he had been flying for several weeks with neither of the fuel quantity indicators working properly. After examining the airplane, the mechanic told the pilot that the airplane's right fuel quantity sender was not calibrated properly and the left fuel quantity sender was defective and would have to be replaced. The pilot elected to defer the repairs to the fuel quantity indicating system until he arrived at his final destination.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the builder's failure to install a fuel compartment vent in the right wing, affecting the total available fuel capacity, and resulting in the loss of engine power due to fuel starvation. A contributing factor was the pilot's intentional flight with a known inoperative fuel gauging system. Full narrative available
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