NTSB Identification: DEN03LA008.
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Accident occurred Saturday, October 19, 2002 in Grand Junction, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/13/2003
Aircraft: Diamond Aircraft Industries DA20-C1, registration: N315CL
Injuries: 1 Minor,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.

According to the pilot, they departed at 1830 with 18 gallons of fuel in the airplane, on a direct cross-country flight using the airplane's on-board GPS. During the flight, he noticed that he had a 20-knot tail wind. They arrived at their destination at 2000. Prior to the return flight, he checked the fuel using a stick and the fuel gauge. He identified that there was approximately 9.5 gallons of fuel remaining and decided not recheck his fuel burn rate. They departed at 2100. The pilot stated that while approximately 50 nautical miles south of their final destination, he rechecked the fuel burn rate and calculated it to be approximately 6 gallons per hour, but the fuel gauge did not reflect this. The fuel gauge was reading right at the one-quarter mark but should have been over one quarter. "I thought the fuel gauge was malfunctioning, and knew that we could land at nearby airport, but I decided not to." He also stated that it was less then an hour to their home field, and that even at one-quarter tank, it should be enough for a 45-minute reserve. At approximately 13 miles southeast of their home field, he contacted the tower, and was given clearance to land. While on final, the engine began to "sputter." He notified the tower that he was having "engine trouble," and they cleared him to land on any runway. At 7000 feet msl and on final for runway 04, the engine "quit completely." He attempted to hold altitude and restart the engine, but was unable to. Realizing he couldn't make it to the airport, he set up to make a forced landing on an Interstate Highway. He made a right turn to set up for the landing. The airplane struck a set of power lines at a 30-degree angle, and in a 20-degree right turn, knocked down two power poles, impacted a ditch, and came to a stop next to the highway. The pilot noticed the power lines lying across the airplane, he saw sparks, and a fire near the left wing. He unbuckled himself and his passenger and they both climbed out and walked up to the road. The wire strike, ground impact, post impact fire, and subsequent electrical power surge, destroyed the airplane.

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

The pilot's inadequate preflight and in-flight planning resulting in fuel mismanagement and fuel exhaustion.

Full narrative available

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