NTSB Identification: NYC08CA192
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 24, 2008 in Millinocket, ME
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/03/2008
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-260, registration: N4823S
Injuries: 5 Minor.

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 of a rented Piper PA-32-260 utilized 14 gallons per hour fuel consumption for the estimated 3-hour cross country flight. With five people and camping gear onboard, the pilot was able to fill both main fuel tanks, and partially fill the left tip tank for a total of 60 gallons of fuel. Following the takeoff, the pilot climbed the airplane to 5,500 feet, and set the power for approximately 65 percent. The mixture was leaned, and set about half way between full rich and idle cutoff. However, "within the first hour of flight," the pilot noted the engine oil temperature "near the upper end of the green zone," and added "about 1 inch of mixture control lever stroke." The pilot first exhausted the fuel from the left tip tank, then alternated utilizing the left and right fuel main tanks every 30 minutes for most of the remainder if the flight. About 30 minutes prior to arriving at the destination airport, while passing near an en route city, the pilot observed approximately 14 gallons of fuel remaining, which he equated to 1 hour of flight time. About half way between the city and the destination, the pilot descended to 3,500 feet, and shortly thereafter, the fuel was exhausted from the left tank. The pilot switched to the right tank, but about 2 miles from the destination, "fuel was exhausted and the engine quit." The pilot then glided the airplane toward the airport, and cleared trees, but the main landing gear clipped a perimeter fence before the airplane landed on a road and rolled into a ditch. Neither the pilot nor the Federal Aviation inspector on scene noted any preimpact mechanical anomalies. Another airport was located about 20 miles closer and 5 miles to the right of the course to destination airport. The pilot reported 154 hours of flight time and 16 hours in make and model. He also noted that, in hindsight, he wished he had calculated fuel burn prior to reaching the en route city.

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

The pilot’s failure to properly monitor fuel consumption during the flight.

Full narrative available

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