NTSB Identification: NYC08FA020
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 27, 2007 in Boynton Beach, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/06/2010
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-181, registration: N8155C
Injuries: 2 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.

Shortly before the end of a planned 2-hour night instructional instrument flight, at an altitude of about 1,000 feet above the ground, the airplane’s engine lost power. The certificated flight instructor directed the certificated private pilot to perform a forced landing to a golf course, but while on final approach the airplane impacted trees and cartwheeled. Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the right fuel tank was intact but empty. The left fuel tank was breached but contained approximately 6 gallons of fuel, and an accident site soil analysis indicated a fuel spill of approximately 20 to 30 gallons. The electric fuel pump switch was found in the “on” position and the fuel selector valve was found with right fuel tank selected. Performance data indicated that the flight would have consumed approximately 25 gallons, or about half of the total fuel on board when the airplane took off. The surviving passenger reported that after the loss of engine power, both pilots were concentrating on finding a suitable landing spot, which was difficult due to the darkness, rather than troubleshooting the loss of engine power. The pilot operating handbook states that any time fuel starvation is suspected during flight, the fuel selector should immediately be positioned to the other tank and the electric fuel pump switched to the “on” position.

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

A total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation as a result of the pilots' improper in-flight fuel management.

Full narrative available

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