NTSB Identification: WPR10LA111
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, January 14, 2010 in Napa, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/20/2010
Aircraft: ERCOUPE 415-D, registration: N2332H
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Almost immediately after takeoff, at 100 feet above ground level (agl), the engine of the single engine airplane began to lose power, surged two times, then lost all power. The pilot landed in an open field off the end of the runway. During the landing the nose wheel sank into the soft ground, collapsed, and the airplane nosed into the ground. The pilot reported that both wing fuel tanks were full and the engine run up was normal. During the post accident airplane examination fuel was identified in both wing tanks, the fuselage header tank, and the main fuel valve was observed rotated to the 2 o’clock position. The valve was a two position valve; "off" when positioned to 9 o’clock, and "on" when positioned to 12 o’clock. Investigators observed that the valve had no positive stops and could be rotated past the 9 o’clock or 12 o’clock positions. The valve was located on the far left bottom side of the instrument panel, about knee level, which was not the standard location for the valve. During the post accident examination of the engine, investigators were able to run the engine up to 2,500 rpm, and noted that if the operator in the left seat moved his left knee to the left, it would push on the fuel valve, rotating it to the 2 o’clock position. With the fuel valve at the 2 o’clock position, fuel flow to the carburetor was reduced to a "trickle," and the engine slowly lost power.

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

A loss of engine power due to fuel starvation as a result of the unintentional movement of the fuel selector valve beyond its stops during takeoff initial climb resulting in restricted fuel flow.

Full narrative available

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