NTSB Identification: LAX02LA076.
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Accident occurred Sunday, February 03, 2002 in Joshua Tree, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/2003
Aircraft: Beech 95-B55, registration: N9DD
Injuries: 2 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.

The twin-engine airplane lost power in both engines while approaching the uncontrolled airport for landing and landed short of the runway in an unprepared field. The airplane was equipped with four fuel tanks; left main and left auxiliary tanks and right main and right auxiliary tanks. Two fuel quantity gauges indicated fuel quantity in either the main tanks or the auxiliary tanks based upon the position selected on a separate switch on the pilot's sub-panel. Approaching the airport the pilot completed the pre-landing checklist and confirmed the fuel selectors were on the main tanks. He had not changed the fuel selector valve handle positions since before takeoff, 45 minutes earlier, and believed he had been feeding fuel from the main tanks the entire flight. He turned on the fuel boost pumps to the "low" position and confirmed the fuel quantity gauge select switch was also set to indicate fuel quantity in the main tanks. As the airplane entered the landing pattern on crosswind leg, 1/2 to 1 mile from the departure end of the runway, the left engine began to "surge." The fuel gauges read 1/3 tank and the pilot, believing fuel supply was not the problem, elected to feather the left propeller and secure the left engine. Continuing the approach, the pilot extended the downwind leg and turned onto base leg about 1.5 miles from the landing runway threshold. As the airplane was turning onto final approach he lowered the landing gear and, as the gear was extending, the right engine began to surge. He then believed he did have a fuel starvation problem and attempted to unfeather and restart the left engine. The airplane was settling rapidly and he realized he wouldn't be able to reach the runway or restart the engines. He located a clearing beyond some houses and landed the airplane there. The person who recovered the wreckage reported draining 23 gallons of fuel from each main tank , 1/2-gallon from the left auxiliary tank and 1 cup of fuel from the right auxiliary tank. The fuel selector valve handles were in the main tank position and the fuel quantity gauge selector switch was in the main tank position. It is possible on this model airplane to select the fuel quantity gauges to indicate fuel quantity in the main tanks while the engines are, in fact, receiving fuel from the auxiliary tanks. Both engines were subsequently installed on a test stand and operated satisfactorily. No mechanical defects were noted on the airframe or engines.

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

The pilot's inadvertent missetting of the fuel selector position on the auxiliary fuel tanks (versus the main tanks) resulting in fuel starvation of the engines.

Full narrative available

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