NTSB Identification: ERA09CA232
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 04, 2009 in Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/19/2009
Aircraft: CESSNA 177RG, registration: N1838Q
Injuries: 2 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 visually inspected each fuel tank before departure but incorrectly believed the fuel tanks were full. Each fuel tank contained more than 22 gallons but less than 25 gallons usable fuel. When near the destination airport the engine experienced a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion. The pilot proceeded towards an alternate airport, but was unable to land there and landed gear-up short of the intended runway. A total of 3 to 4 ounces of fuel were drained from the wing fuel tanks. No tank damage and no fuel leaks were noted from the fuel filler caps or fuel tank sump drain valves. Both fuel quantity gauges were noted to read empty when aircraft's battery power was applied. Although an engine-monitoring instrument with fuel flow capability was installed after the airplane was manufactured, installation instructions required placards to read that the airplane's fuel quantity gauges should be used to determine the fuel level in the tanks, and the original fuel flow gauge is the primary instrument for fuel flow. Postaccident examination of the instrument panel revealed neither placard was installed. Though the airplane was modified by installation of a turbocharger which required an increase in fuel flow, the increase was within the limits of the fuel flow transducer. The calculated average fuel flow during the accident flight was 10.3 gallons-per-hour, which was consistent with the average calculated fuel flows on two flights before the engine was overhauled. Fueling records at the intended destination reflect that on one occasion he landed with no more than 5.0 gallons of usable fuel remaining.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's failure to divert to an alternate airport resulting in the total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion. Contributing to the accident were the pilot's incorrect determination of the fuel load prior to the flight, the lack of placards near the engine-monitoring instrument, and the pilot's reliance of the on-board engine-monitoring instrument instead of the fuel quantity gauges. Full narrative available
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