NTSB Identification: LAX03LA047.
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Accident occurred Sunday, December 08, 2002 in Scottsdale, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/29/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161, registration: N2588Y
Injuries: 2 Minor.

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 airplane lost engine power during the takeoff initial climb. The pilot reported the power loss was smooth, without vibration or roughness. There was not sufficient runway remaining, so the pilot set up for a landing on a street and the engine power came back. He then attempted to turn back to the runway, but the engine quit again. The pilot then landed the airplane in a parking lot, and the left wing struck a light pole. Prior to the accident flight, the airplane was fueled to the tabs (34 usable gallons) and flown for 2.4 hours by another individual. Then, the airplane was rented to the pilot of the accident flight. The operator's policy was to fuel their airplanes to the tabs after each flight. The pilot reported visually checking the fuel during his preflight and observing that it was "at or slightly below the tabs." He also stated the fuel gauge readings appeared to be consistent with what he observed in the tanks. The airplane fueler reported that he pulled up to the airplane and asked the pilot if he needed fuel. The pilot responded that he was "good" and did not need any fuel. The pilot departed and switched fuel tank positions every 1/2 hour during the flight. The airplane was flown for 2.3 hours until it lost engine power. Post accident documentation found the fuel selector in the left tank position. Three gallons of fuel were found in the right wing tank and zero gallons were found in the left wing tank. There was no evidence of fuel leakage or staining to the asphalt under the airplane. The airplane was flown for a total of 4.7 hours after being fueled to the tabs. The airplane burns 6.6 gallons per hour (gph) at 55 percent power. At this power setting, the total fuel burn calculated for the two flights was 31 gallons, leaving 3 gallons remaining in the tanks. The calculations were based on cruise performance only.

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

The pilot's inadequate preflight inspection and failure to refuel the airplane resulting in a loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.

Full narrative available

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