NTSB Identification: LAX06LA153.
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Accident occurred Sunday, April 30, 2006 in Death Valley, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/29/2007
Aircraft: Ronald R Russell RV-6, registration: N655VT
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane lost engine power during the takeoff initial climb, and nosed over during the ensuing forced landing. The accident pilot radioed that he was having fuel problems and attempted to land just south of the airport. The airplane touched down in soft sand and nosed over. The recovery crew that retrieved the wreckage reported that both fuel tanks contained a substantial amount of fuel. An inspection of the airplane was performed. Trace amounts of fuel were found in the fuel system between the electric fuel pump and the fuel distributor. No fuel was found in the fuel distributor. The electric fuel pump was inoperative when tested. An operative electrical fuel pump and fuel source was connected to the airplane and the engine was started with no difficulties, but because of the damaged propeller, the engine was not run at full power. A magneto check was performed and found to be within the normal range. The right wing fuel tank had an inverted fuel pick-up and the left wing fuel tank had a standard pick-up. Both pick-ups were clean with no debris and free of blockage. The airplane was equipped with an Airflow Performance electric fuel pump, in addition to the engine driven fuel pump. According to the manufacturer of the electric fuel pump, an optional fuel purge system kit that would allow the pilot to purge hot fuel from the fuel lines with cooler fuel to help prevent vapor lock was available. The accident airplane was not equipped with the fuel purge system. The accident airplane's fuel system was installed so if the electric fuel pump became inoperative and the pump was not blocked, the engine driven fuel pump would be able to draw fuel out of the fuel tanks. A representative of the fuel pump manufacturer stated that the fuel pump could run dry for about 1 to 2 minutes before it would fail due to lack of lubrication.

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

a fuel starvation induced loss of engine power due to a likely vapor lock condition in the fuel lines.

Full narrative available

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