NTSB Identification: ERA11FA222
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 03, 2011 in Chesapeake, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/27/2012
Aircraft: REPLOGLE LANCAIR 360, registration: N164T
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot had earlier flown to the airport and was taking his sister on a short familiarization flight. Witnesses reported that, after takeoff, when the airplane was beyond the departure end of the runway and about 200 to 300 feet above the ground, the engine began sputtering and backfiring. The airplane then turned sharply to the right (back toward the runway), stalled, and spun. It began to recover, and, as it did, several witnesses heard a brief reestablishment of power before impact. An examination of the wreckage indicated that, at the time of impact, the airplane was in an approximate 20-degrees-nose-down left rotation. No preexisting mechanical anomalies were noted with the engine or the airplane. Both fuel tanks were found empty but compromised. Areas of browned vegetation at the crash site indicated that, although specific fuel amounts could not be determined, very little fuel had been in the left fuel tank and far more fuel had been in the right tank. Although the fuel selector was found in the right tank position, its position prior to the loss of engine power could not be determined. If the fuel selector had been selected to the right tank while the airplane was in its initial climb attitude, it is possible that there was an insufficient quantity of fuel in the tank to cover the port that supplied the engine and that, when the nose of the airplane subsequently fell during the stall, fuel moved forward to cover the port and resupply fuel to the engine, resulting in the restored power heard by witnesses. A more likely scenario is that the pilot took off with the fuel selected to the left tank, and, once the loss of engine power occurred, he selected the right tank, which resupplied fuel to the engine before impact.

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

The pilot did not maintain airspeed following a loss of engine power, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and spin. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's selection of the wrong fuel tank at takeoff, which resulted in fuel starvation and the total loss of engine power.

Full narrative available

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