NTSB Identification: DFW05FA082.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, March 08, 2005 in Hot Springs, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/07/2005
Aircraft: Cessna 172F, registration: N8382U
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
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.
After a cross-country flight, the single-engine airplane, piloted by a 40,000-hour pilot, impacted heavily wooded terrain about 1/4 miles short of the approach end of a municipal airport runway. Earlier in the day, the airplane had departed from a private airstrip with approximately 15 gallons of fuel on board. A person, who was in the vicinity of the accident site, witnessed an airplane flying toward the airport about 100 feet agl, and that the "engine was not running." He watched the airplane fly over a tree line and disappear, but he did not hear any kind of impact noise. No radio transmissions were heard from the accident airplane. There was a report by a friend of the pilot that the radio in the airplane was inoperative. Examination of the airframe and engine at the accident site did not reveal any mechanical pre-impact anomalies. The fuel tanks in both wings were not breached. The airplane was leveled, and approximately 1.5 gallons of clear automotive gasoline was drained from the airplane's fuel tanks. There did not appear to be an odor of fuel present when the investigation team first examined the wreckage. The wing-mounted, vented fuel caps were found secured. When the fuel level transmitter from each fuel tank was removed, the float arms for each moved smoothly, and were not restricted. Power was applied to the aircraft and each transmitter float moved through their full range of motion, and valid indications were observed on both fuel level gauges. The fuel selector handle was found in the "Both" position. The fuel screen was removed and found to be clean and clear of debris. According to manufacturer's documentation, the total fuel capacity of the airplane was 39 gallons (both tanks), of which, 3.0 gallons are not usable (1.5 gallons per tank). The total fuel found on-board at the accident site was approximately 1.5 gallons. Total flight time, from when the pilot last refueled the airplane with 15 gallons, could not be determined. Examination of the wrecakge showed that the basic shape and volume of the cabin was not altered during the crash. The pilot's seat was found intact with the exception of the forward inboard roller assembly, which remained attached to the seat rail within the cabin. The pilot's lap belt was found intact. Shoulder harnesses were not installed, and by FAA regulations, they were not required to be installed in the 1965 year model airplane. The pilot sustained head and chest injuries during the impact.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: A loss of engine power due to the pilot's failure to refuel resulting in fuel starvation. Contributing factors were the lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing, and a shoulder harness restraint system was not installed. Full narrative available
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