NTSB Identification: LAX04CA326.
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Accident occurred Monday, September 20, 2004 in Denair, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/03/2004
Aircraft: IAR SA Brasov 823, registration: N823WT
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane experienced a loss of engine power and collided with terrain during a forced landing in a soft, wet field. Prior to departure, the pilot performed a preflight inspection, at which time he visually verified the airplane's fuel quantities by both physically looking inside the wing tanks, and by checking his fuel computer/totalizer inside the cockpit. The pilot did not use a dipstick or other means to physically quantify the fuel on board. He determined that he had a more than adequate amount of fuel for the 1- to 1 1/2-hour flight. While en route, the pilot compared the "fuel remaining time" with the "time en route remaining" on his gauges numerous times. As he came in the proximity of the airport the engine coughed once and subsequently quit. Despite his efforts, the engine would not restart and the pilot made an emergency landing. While descending, the left wing tip contacted the ground first, and the landing gear touched down on the soft wet ground. The pilot drained both fuel tanks and found about 1 gallon of fuel remaining. The pilot opined that 12 gallons of fuel was siphoned from the airplane prior to departure. The pilot stated that the accident could have been prevented if he had used a fuel quantity dipstick. The pilot reported no mechanical malfunctions of failures with the airplane prior to impact.

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

the pilot's failure to verify the fuel quantity on board prior to departure, which resulted in fuel exhaustion and loss of engine power due to an inadequate fuel supply.

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