NTSB Identification: ERA10LA248
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, April 28, 2010 in LaGrange, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/26/2011
Aircraft: ENGINEERING & RESEARCH ERCOUPE 415-C, registration: N87172
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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

The pilot completed a preflight inspection of the airplane before taking off and flying to an airport 32 nautical miles (nm) away. There, he made a full stop landing, taxied back, and took off for another airport 16 nm away. Again, he made a full stop landing and taxied back, before taking off for his original departure airport. Just after takeoff, while the airplane was in the traffic pattern downwind leg, about 1000 feet, the engine sputtered twice and lost power. He then attempted to land on the runway, but the airplane landed short and the nose landing gear buckled. Subsequent examination of the airplane revealed that no fuel lines were compromised or blocked, that the fuel lines had little to no fuel in them, and that the gascolator was approximately half full of fuel. In addition, the fuel header tank was empty while the two wing tanks were almost full. The fuel tank shut-off valve, and the main fuel valve were found in the off position, but the pilot stated that he had turned off both upon evacuation of the airplane. He also stated that it was his practice to turn off the fuel tank shut-off valve after every flight. The fuel tank shut-off valve controlled fuel flow from the wing tanks to the header tank. With the lack of fuel found in the header tank, it was likely that the fuel tank shut-off valve had been in the off position for all three flights, which ultimately resulted in fuel starvation to the engine.

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

A loss of engine power due to the pilot's inadequate preflight inspection and his failure to ensure that the fuel tank shut-off valve was open resulting in fuel starvation.

Full narrative available

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