NTSB Identification: NYC08LA299
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 01, 2008 in Cumberland, RI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/23/2010
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-260, registration: N5529J
Injuries: 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 owner/pilot departed in the single-engine airplane for the personal cross-country flight. He climbed to and set the power for a cruise altitude of 7,500 feet, and noted that his digital engine monitor indicated an engine speed of 2,300 rpm. Shortly thereafter, without any unusual noises or vibration, the engine speed decreased to 1,100 rpm, the manifold pressure appeared unchanged, and the airplane started to descend. The pilot exercised the propeller control to increase the rpm, but there was no response to his inputs. He declared an emergency, and attempted to divert to a nearby airport, but then elected to perform an off-airport landing in a field. During the rollout, the airplane struck bushes and trees that bordered the field. The pilot received minor injuries, and there was no fuel spill. Post-accident examination of the airplane revealed that the two inboard fuel tanks were full, the right outboard contained several gallons, and the left outboard tank contained only trace amounts of fuel. The fuel selector valve was reset to one of the main tanks; the engine started readily, and ran normally. Engine monitor data showed that during the flight, combustion had ceased, but the propeller continued to windmill during the 6 minutes of the descent. The pilot did not recognize the power loss, and misdiagnosed it as a propeller problem, and did not continue his trouble-shooting to positively identify and correct the underlying problem. In addition, the pilot's fuel management procedures were not in compliance with the procedures specified in the airplane manufacturer's operating manual. It stated that, "...If time permits," the pilot should manipulate the throttle and fuel selector in a continued attempt to restore engine power. Below that, a note stated "...If engine power was caused by fuel exhaustion, power will not be regained after tanks are switched until empty fuel lines are filled, which may require up to ten seconds...."

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

The pilot's improper fuel management practices, which resulted in fuel starvation and a complete power loss. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's misdiagnosis of the situation, and his cessation of trouble-shooting to positively identify and correct the underlying problem.

Full narrative available

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