NTSB Identification: CEN11LA635
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 10, 2011 in Waukegan, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/28/2012
Aircraft: FAIRCHILD M-62A-3, registration: N103JC
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.

Before flight, the pilot checked the airplane’s fuel quantity using the fuel gauges but did not perform a visual inspection of the fuel tanks or top off the fuel tanks. The pilot selected the right fuel tank because its gauge indicated that it was 3/4 full. During the flight, the airplane experienced a total loss of engine power while on the downwind to base leg of the traffic pattern. The pilot turned toward the runway but realized that there was another airplane on short final that precluded his landing on the runway, so he elected to perform an off-airport landing to a field. Examination of the airplane revealed that there was no usable fuel aboard the airplane, the right fuel gauge indicated 3/4 full, and the left fuel gauge indicated empty. Federal Aviation Administration safety guidance information states that fuel gauges are subject to malfunctions and errors, and certification regulations only require that a fuel gauge read “zero” during level flight when the quantity of fuel remaining in the tank is equal to the unuseable fuel supply. Therefore, fuel gauges should not be depended upon for checking the fuel quantity in a tank, and pilots should either top off fuel tanks or perform a visual inspection of fuel tanks to verify fuel quantity.

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

The pilot’s inadequate preflight inspection of the airplane, which resulted in fuel exhaustion and a total loss of engine power. Contributing to the accident were a malfunctioning fuel gauge and air traffic that prevented an on airport landing.

Full narrative available

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