NTSB Identification: ANC06LA140.
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Accident occurred Saturday, September 16, 2006 in Soldotna, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/29/2007
Aircraft: Piper PA-12, registration: N593V
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.
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 commercial certificated pilot departed on a Title 14, CFR Part 91, cross-country flight in a float-equipped airplane. About 15 minutes after takeoff, the engine began to lose power and then quit. The pilot made a forced landing on a small lake, but collided with trees before touchdown. The pilot said he departed with 10 gallons of fuel, and noted that the right wing fuel gauge was indicating 1/4 full. After landing, the pilot said that the right fuel gauge was still indicating 1/4 full. The following day, the pilot began to drain the fuel tanks and discovered that both wing fuel tanks were empty. He eventually drained about 2 gallons of fuel from the fuel system. The left wing fuel indicator was an original float-type rod. The right wing tank quantity indicator was installed in the airplane by a mechanic under a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), about 4 months before the pilot purchased the airplane. The STC utilizes a "U" shaped, clear segment of plastic tubing, which functions as a visual column indicator (sight gauge) of the tank's fuel level. The installation instructions for the sight gauge include the installation of a length of fuel hose between the ends of the sight gauge, and the fuel tank outlets. The length of the hose is not specified in the STC, only stating, "as required." During a postaccident examination of the airplane by an FAA inspector, the pilot and a mechanic noted that they found an excessively long length of fuel hose between the lower sight gauge attach point, and the lower fuel tank outlet. They stated the length of hose was arched upward between the two points of attachment, allowing fuel to be trapped in the lower end of the sight gauge.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's failure to refuel the airplane before departure, which resulted in fuel exhaustion, and a total loss of engine power during cruise flight. Factors contributing to the accident were an inaccurate fuel tank indication on one of the two fuel tanks, and the improper modification of the fuel tank indicator by maintenance personnel. Full narrative available
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