NTSB Identification: CHI03FA047.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, January 07, 2003 in Barrington Hill, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/25/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-23-250, registration: N74AA
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of power in both engines during cruise flight. The pilot reported one engine sputtered. He stated he switched fuel tanks and verified the mixture was full rich. Shortly thereafter the other engine also sputtered. At this point, the pilot stated that he setup for a forced landing into a small field. However, he overshot his intended touchdown point and impacted trees adjacent to the field. Prior to departure, the pilot stated he requested FBO line service personnel top off the inboard main fuel tanks. He also reported he verified that the fuel tank caps were present and secure, but he did not remove any of the fuel caps to visually check fuel quantity. The FBO line service personnel who fueled the aircraft stated the pilot requested that the outboard fuel tanks be topped off. During an interview, when questioned about the configuration of the fuel cap, he reported the tanks he fueled had standard, twist-off caps. The aircraft was configured with 3 fuel tanks in each wing, the production inboard and outboard main tanks and the auxiliary wing tip tanks. The inboard and outboard main tanks were configured with a sub-flush fuel cap that was covered by a small, hinged panel. The auxiliary tank fuel cap was a standard, twist-off type. This cap protruded above the wing contour and was not covered by a secondary panel. During the on-scene investigation, the inboard main fuel tanks were empty. The outboard main tanks contained fuel, however an exact amount could not be determined. Both wing tip tanks were separated and ruptured. An examination of each engine was completed. The fuel flow divider units for both engines were disassembled and did not contain any fluid. The diaphragms were intact. No other anomolies were noted.

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

The pilot's improper fuel management, which resulted in fuel starvation. An inadequate preflight inspection and the trees encountered during the forced landing were contributing factors.

Full narrative available

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