NTSB Identification: NYC05FA140.
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Accident occurred Friday, September 02, 2005 in S. Hackensack, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/28/2006
Aircraft: Cessna 177A, registration: N30491
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.
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.
On the day of the accident, the pilot and passenger flew from the pilot's home airport to the destination airport approximately one hour away. Prior to departing from the destination airport, the pilot performed several touch-and-go landings at night for currency reasons, and then the pilot and passenger departed for the return flight. After flying for about an hour, the pilot declared an emergency, and was radar vectored to the closest airport. She advised air traffic control that the airplane was "out of fuel," and that she "hope[d] to make it to the runway." The airplane impacted a utility pole and a building approximately 1/4 mile from the end of the runway. Examination of the airplane and engine revealed no mechanical anomalies. Four gallons of fuel were drained from the right fuel tank, and the left tank was empty. The pilot refueled the airplane on the day prior to the accident, at an airport 50 miles from her home airport. According to the Cessna 177 Owner's Manual, the average fuel burn rate was between 8 gallons per hour (gph) and 10 gph. Toxicological testing performed on the pilot's blood detected alprazolam (a prescription anti-anxiety medication also known by the trade name Xanax) at a level consistent with recent ingestion of an impairing dose of the medication. Testing additionally detected diazepam (a prescription anti-anxiety medication also known by the trade name Valium) in the pilot's blood. The two medications detected are not typically indicated for use together. The pilot, a self-employed psychologist, had not reported any mental conditions or use of medications on her applications for airman medical certificate.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's inadequate preflight planning, which resulted in fuel exhaustion and subsequent loss of engine power. A factor in the accident was the pilot's impairment from prescription medication. Full narrative available
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