NTSB Identification: DFW07CA202.
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Accident occurred Sunday, September 16, 2007 in Taylor, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/20/2007
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-180, registration: N6017P
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The 2,000-hour private pilot reported that his single-engine airplane lost power while at altitude of 8,000 feet MSL during a night VFR flight. As a precaution, the pilot elected to initiate the descent to his destination airport after successfully restarting the engine. While descending to the airport, the engine lost power a second time and the pilot elected to perform a gear-up forced landing to an open field 2 nautical miles north east of his intended destination. Additionally, the pilot noted that the right fuel gauge indicated one-fourth full and the left fuel gauge indicated an unknown low amount of fuel. The airplane sustained structural damage during the forced landing. The 3 occupants reported that they were able to egress from the airplane unassisted. Having flown this route multiple times, the pilot stated that he always landed with 45 minutes of fuel in reserve. The pilot added that the fuel gauges on his airplane were usually accurate and he was unaware of his low fuel condition until after the engine lost power the second time. The FAA investigators that responded to the accident site reported that both the left and right fuel tanks had been exhausted. Weather at the destination airport 5 minutes after the mishap was reported as calm winds, visibility 10 statute miles, with clear skies, temperature 23 degrees Celsius, dew point 18 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 30.08 inches of Mercury.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as result of the pilot's inadequate in-flight planning/decision. Contributing factors were the lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing and the dark night. Full narrative available
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