NTSB Identification: ERA10CA016
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 13, 2009 in Meadville, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/03/2010
Aircraft: PIPER PA28, registration: N8886E
Injuries: 1 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, who was operating on an instrument-flight-rules flight plan, filed for an altitude of 6,000 feet and a flight time of 5 hours. He stated that the airplane contained 50 gallons of fuel, of which 48 gallons were usable, "enough for 6 hours of endurance." The pilot reported that, approximately 10 nautical miles from his destination, he noticed that the left fuel gauge indicated "empty" and the right fuel gauge was "just above empty." He estimated that he had "about 6 gallons." Shortly after, at 3,200 feet, the engine lost power. When he regained visual contact with the ground at approximately 2,500 feet, the pilot noticed a baseball field to his right "less than a half mile away" and attempted to turn towards it. During the turn, the airplane "lost altitude quickly and the right wing struck a tree." The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing. The engine, engine mounts, and firewall were pushed aft into the instrument panel, and the upper fuselage was buckled. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector who responded to the accident scene reported that the fuel tanks and fuel lines were dry, and the propeller exhibited no signs of rotation on impact. The engine could be rotated by hand, and compression was obtained on all cylinders. The pilot and the FAA inspector both reported no mechanical malfunctions. According to information obtained from the airplane's FAA-approved flight manual, the engine consumed approximately 8.4 gallons per hour at 75% power when leaned to the manufacturer's specifications. The pilot stated that he was aware of strong headwinds forecasted for his route of flight, but they were about what he had expected and planned for during his preflight calculations.

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

A loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot's inadequate fuel planning.

Full narrative available

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