NTSB Identification: CEN11LA117
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 18, 2010 in Lake Elmo, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/21/2011
Aircraft: PIPER PA-46-350P, registration: N92358
Injuries: 2 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.

About an hour after takeoff the airplane was in cruise flight at 16,500 feet mean sea level (msl) when the pilot heard a loud noise followed by a rapid cabin depressurization. The pilot rapidly descended to 10,500 feet msl. The pressurization stabilized and he continued to his destination airport. About 3 hours and 25 minutes after takeoff, the airplane was approaching the destination airport and was about 1,500 feet above ground level when the engine suddenly lost power. The pilot attempted to restart the engine by putting the mixture, propeller, and throttle controls full forward. He turned on the emergency fuel pump and engaged the starter button, but the engine did not start. The pilot executed a forced landing at night to a field that had about 2 - 2.5 feet of snow in it. During the landing roll, the left wing separated from the fuselage. The inspection of the airplane revealed that the right wing fuel tank was empty. The left wing fuel tank was intact and appeared to be full of fuel. The fuel selector was found on the left tank. The pilot reported that he was certain that he had switched tanks sometime during the climb, but was not certain if he had switched tanks after that. The pilot reported that the loss of engine power was the result of fuel starvation.

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

The pilot's improper fuel management which resulted in the loss of engine power due to fuel starvation. Contributing to the accident was the distraction of the cabin depressurization.

Full narrative available

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