NTSB Identification: CHI01FA290.
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Accident occurred Thursday, August 23, 2001 in Newaygo, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/25/2003
Aircraft: Navion L-17B, registration: N1017B
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 airplane experienced a loss of engine power while in cruise flight and the pilot performed a forced landing into a forested area. Witnesses reported the aircraft was experiencing engine difficulties prior to and during the collision with the trees and terrain. Approximately 12 gallons of uncontaminated aviation fuel was drained from the main fuel system. The fuel supply line, forward of the firewall, was disconnected and no fuel drained from the line. The fuel selector, located on the fuselage floor between the two pilot seats, was found approximately halfway between the "AUX" and "OFF" positions. When the electric fuel pump was operated the fuel delivery was limited and sporadic with the fuel selector positioned as found. With the fuel selector positioned on "AUX" or "MAIN" the fuel delivery increased significantly and remained constant. There was no fuel flow with the fuel selector positioned on "OFF." The fuel selector was repositioned in-between "AUX" and "OFF" and fuel delivery was again limited and sporadic. No anomalies were found with the engine or its accessories that could be associated with a pre-impact condition that would have prevented the normal operation of the engine.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot inadvertently positioning the fuel selector in an intermediate position, resulting in a loss of engine power. An additional cause was the pilot's failure to verify the fuel selector position during the engine restart attempt. Factors to the accident include the restricted fuel flow, fuel starvation, and the presence of trees during the forced landing.
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