NTSB Identification: CEN11LA402
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 18, 2011 in Albia, IA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/14/2012
Aircraft: CESSNA P210R, registration: N900SR
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 stated that the airplane was fully fueled before takeoff. While en route, he requested a destination change due to deteriorating weather along his route of flight. During the descent, about 15,000 feet mean sea level, the engine lost power. The pilot’s efforts to restore engine power were not successful, and he diverted to the nearest airport. The airplane descended below the clouds about 1,000 feet above ground level; however, the airplane was not in a position to land on the runway. The airplane ultimately lost too much airspeed and altitude as the pilot attempted to configure and align the airplane for a landing on the runway. He subsequently landed in a grass area about 100 feet southwest of the runway, nearly perpendicular to the runway orientation.

A postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction. No useable fuel was observed in the airplane fuel tanks at the time of the examination. The fuel tank caps were securely installed, and no evidence of fuel staining or siphoning was observed on the airframe. The pilot noted that the fuel quantity indications before the loss of engine power were near empty and about 10 gallons for the right and left tanks, respectively. He added that the fuel gauges had never worked properly. The pilot stated that he did not visually check the amount of fuel on board during the preflight inspection. He commented that normal airplane endurance was about 5 1/2 hours and the accident flight was about 3 1/2 hours in duration. The airplane was not in compliance with a Federal Aviation Administration Airworthiness Directive requiring a placard denoting that the fuel level must be rechecked 2 minutes after fueling to ensure full fuel tank capacity. In addition, the airplane Pilot's Operating Handbook required a visual inspection of the fuel level as part of the preflight inspection.

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

The pilot's inadequate preflight inspection, in which he did not detect that less fuel was on board the airplane than planned, which precipitated a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion during initial descent.

Full narrative available

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