NTSB Identification: WPR09FA102
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 28, 2009 in Santa Monica, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/11/2010
Aircraft: SIAI-MARCHETTI SF-260C, registration: N688C
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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.

Witnesses observed the airplane climb normally after takeoff until reaching an altitude between 200 to 400 feet, then the engine sound stopped. The airplane appeared to slow down as it made a right turn followed by a descending spin until impacting the runway. The main wing tanks had been topped off about 1 week before the accident by another pilot. The pilot reported that he taxied the airplane to the hangar with the fuel selector valve in the right tip fuel tank position per standard operating procedures for the airplane. The pilot stated that a small amount of fuel was in the tip tank; however, the exact quantity was not able to be determined. Postaccident on-site examination of the wreckage revealed that the fuel tank selector valve handle appeared to be in the right tip fuel tank position. Based on detailed examination of the selector, and the nature of the cockpit structure deformation, it was later determined that the fuel tank selector valve was out of its detent and was actually between the Right Tip Tank and the Both Tip Tank selections. The fuel tank selector was probably moved out of the selector detent as a result of the crushing forces and structural deformation around the selector handle during the impact sequence. The fuel tank selector valve assembly was disassembled and found to be operational. The approved airplane flight manual for the airplane indicated that the selector valve should be positioned on the left wing tank for starting. Both the manual and the placards on the instrument panel stated that the use of “Tip Tank” and “both Tips” is limited to level flight only. The airframe and engine were examined with no mechanical anomalies identified.

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

The pilot’s failure to select the proper fuel tank for takeoff, which resulted in a loss of engine power. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control while attempting a return to runway maneuver.

Full narrative available

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