NTSB Identification: CEN11FA508
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 25, 2011 in Williston, ND
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/09/2014
Aircraft: BEECH A36, registration: N41MK
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

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 passenger reported that the purpose of the local flight was to take low-altitude aerial photographs of nearby ground structures and that, shortly before the accident, the pilot remarked that the engine was not operating normally and asked him to look for a suitable landing area. He believed that the engine was still running at that time. The pilot located an open landing area and was in the process of landing when the right wing collided with terrain. During the postaccident examination, about 18 gallons of usable fuel was recovered from the left wing fuel tank, and no usable fuel was recovered from the right wing fuel tank. The observed damage to the propeller blades was indicative of the engine producing at least idle power at the time of the accident. A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Additionally, the engine demonstrated the ability to produce rated horsepower during an operational test run. A review of fueling records and recorded engine data from previous flights established that the partial loss of engine power was likely due to fuel starvation and not from a mechanical malfunction of the engine. Although the fuel selector was found positioned to draw fuel from the left wing fuel tank, it is likely that the pilot repositioned the selector from the right wing fuel tank when he detected the engine problem. Because he was maneuvering at a low altitude, the airplane likely had insufficient altitude and time to reestablish fuel flow and restore engine power.

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

The pilot's improper fuel management, which resulted in fuel starvation and a partial loss of engine power while maneuvering at a low altitude.

Full narrative available

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