NTSB Identification: ANC08LA095
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 01, 2008 in Ketchikan, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/15/2009
Aircraft: CESSNA T210, registration: N59214
Injuries: 1 Minor,1 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 private pilot departed on an instrument flight rules (IFR), personal, cross-country flight after requesting that his airplane's fuel tanks be filled. The destination airport was about 521 nautical miles away. IFR conditions prevailed along the en route portion of the flight, but visual conditions prevailed at the destination airport. The airplane's fuel capacity was 90 gallons, and the engine consumed about 16.5 gallons per hour. The airplane was in cruise flight above the clouds and the pilot requested a visual approach from the south when he was about 19 miles southeast of the destination airport. The airport does not have terminal radar coverage, and is served by a flight service station. The request for a visual approach was not approved due to mountain obscuration south of the airport. The pilot was cleared for the ILS distance measuring equipment (DME) approach. The pilot was initially uncertain of his approach options, which included a radial transition to the localizer, outbound on the localizer with a procedure turn, or a no-procedure turn at 40 DME. He eventually understood and accepted the radial transition clearance, which required him to intercept the localizer course inbound on a 35-mile DME arc. As the airplane approached the inbound localizer heading, the pilot did not make the inbound turn. Air Route Traffic Control Center and Flight Service Station (FSS) personnel made various attempts to contact the pilot to request that he execute a missed approach procedure, but there was no immediate response. The pilot eventually reported that he had descended into visual conditions, but indicated that he was not sure where he was in relation to the airport. He determined his position and began to fly toward the airport at 3,000 feet. Communication with the airplane was garbled and broken for a short while since the airplane was now about 27 miles west of the airport. FSS personnel requested assistance from other airplanes in the area to locate the accident airplane and relay radio communications. About 7 minutes before the accident, the pilot radioed that he was low on fuel and probably would not make it to the airport. He ditched the airplane about 5.4 miles west-northwest of the airport after his fuel supply was exhausted. The pilot and the sole passenger escaped the sinking airplane and were rescued by a float-equipped airplane that had responded to the FSS request for assistance. The pilot reported that he missed the inbound turn onto the localizer because his autopilot failed to capture the localizer. He also said that during the flight headwinds were greater than expected, the cloud ceiling at the destination airport was lower than expected, and the fuel vendor at the departure airport may have not completely filled the fuel tanks to their maximum capacity. The pilot said that he did not visually inspect the fuel tanks prior to departure and that there was no mechanical malfunction of the airplane.

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

The pilot's failure to ensure that there was sufficient fuel on board the airplane for the planned flight, and his inadequate flight planning and navigation, which resulted in fuel exhaustion and ditching short of the planned destination. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's geographic disorientation during his approach to the airport.

Full narrative available

Index for Aug2008 | Index of months