NTSB Identification: CHI05CA041.
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Accident occurred Saturday, December 04, 2004 in Atlantic, IA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/24/2005
Aircraft: Piper PA-30, registration: N7803Y
Injuries: 3 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 rental/instructional airplane received substantial damage on impact with terrain during a forced landing. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Inspection of the airplane revealed that the fuel selector(s) were positioned to the main fuel tanks and that the right auxiliary fuel tank contained an estimated 5-10 gallons of fuel. All remaining fuel tanks did not contain any usable fuel. The pilot stated that at the time of total engine power loss, it was decided to enter a left downwind for runway 12 since a straight-in approach to runway 30 at that time would leave "us a little high." The airplane impacted terrain while on final for runway 12. The operator stated that he mentioned to both pilots that there was no fuel in the auxiliary tanks and if the main fuel tanks were full, there was only 3 hours of fuel on board. He stated that both pilots used the accident airplane in their training towards their multiengine land airplane certificates and that they knew what the fuel consumption rate of the airplane was. The pilot and pilot rated passenger held multiengine airplane certificates. The pilot also held a certified flight instructor (CFI) certificate with a single-engine airplane rating, and the pilot-rated passenger held a CFI certificate with single-engine and multiengine land ratings. According to the operator, both pilots had used the accident airplane in their training towards their multiengine airplane certificates and that the purpose of the accident flight was for both pilots to accumulate flight time. The airplane was certified under Civil Air Regulations as a normal category airplane not equipped with shoulder harnesses.

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

The pilot's inadequate in-flight planning/decision which resulted in fuel exhaustion. The dark night light conditions was a contributing factor.

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