NTSB Identification: SEA07LA156.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, June 12, 2007 in Ludlow, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/27/2007
Aircraft: Cessna 340A, registration: N340WS
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 pilot stated that he did not visually inspect the fuel level in the tanks of the twin-engine airplane before departure. About 15 minutes into the flight, he noticed that the fuel gages were "erratic." About 5 minutes later, the left engine lost power and then regained power with no action by the pilot. Shortly thereafter, the right engine lost power, and the pilot "went to aux pumps" and attempted a restart with no success. The left engine then lost power for the second time, and the pilot "went to aux pumps" and attempted a restart with no success. The pilot made a forced landing in the desert, and during the landing roll, the airplane struck rocks. Examination of the airplane revealed that the right main tank was intact and contained no fuel, and the left main tank was punctured and contained a trace of fuel. The right and left auxiliary tanks contained 27 and 21 gallons of fuel, respectively. Both the left and right fuel selectors were positioned to the right main tank, and both auxiliary fuel pump switches were in the low position. Review of the Pilot's Operating Handbook for the Cessna 340A indicated that in order to utilize the fuel in the auxiliary tanks, the left and right fuel selectors must be positioned to the left and right auxiliary tanks, respectively, and the auxiliary fuel pump switches should be placed in the low position. When questioned about the amount of fuel on board the airplane at departure, the pilot stated that he believed fuel must have been stolen from the airplane while it was parked on the ramp for three days prior to the accident. A written statement was obtained from the line service technician who refueled the airplane, which confirmed that he topped off the airplane with 74.6 gallons of 100LL three days before the accident.

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

The loss of engine power from both engines due to fuel starvation resulting from the pilot's improper fuel tank selector position. Contributing factors were the pilot's inadequate preflight inspection and the lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing.

Full narrative available

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