NTSB Identification: CEN09CA021
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, October 06, 2008 in Iowa City, IA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/03/2008
Aircraft: CESSNA 150M, registration: N533JR
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 pilot planned a local night flight to an airport approximately 16 miles north-northwest of the departure airport. He noted that the fuel gauges indicated nearly full on the left fuel tank and about 1/3 on the right fuel tank. The pilot indicated that he had not visually checked the fuel level prior to flight, but had relied on the fuel gauge indications. He reported that after departure, the flight proceeded to the intermediate airport as planned. He executed a practice Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach and landed without incident. The pilot stated that before the return flight, the fuel gauges indicated "a little less than full" on the left fuel tank and about 1/4 on the right fuel tank. After takeoff, the flight proceeded direct to the intended destination at 2,500 feet mean sea level (msl). With no reported traffic in the area, the pilot selected a straight-in approach. However, about 3/4 of a mile from the runway the engine began to lose power. His efforts to restore full power were not successful. The mixture control had not been adjusted after takeoff and was at full rich for the entire flight. He attempted to stretch the glide to reach the runway, but the left wing struck a tree during the approach. The airplane subsequently impacted an adjacent roadway. A post accident inspection by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the fuel tanks did not appear to be breached, and that only a small amount of fuel remained in the fuel tanks. A review of the airplane flight log and fueling records revealed that it had been flown 3.4 hours since it was last refueled. Manufacturer's documentation noted that the airplaneā€™s fuel capacity was 26 gallons total, with 22.5 gallons usable. Fuel consumption ranged from 4.9 gallons per hour (gph) at 65-percent power to 5.9 gph at 78-percent power (full throttle) at 2,000 feet pressure altitude. Approximately an additional 0.8 gallons are consumed during start-up, taxi, and takeoff.

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

Fuel exhaustion due to the pilot's failure to visually verify that sufficient fuel was on-board prior to flight.

Full narrative available

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