NTSB Identification: CEN11LA651
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 17, 2011 in Nunica, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/27/2013
Aircraft: NORTH AMERICAN AT-6, registration: N217RK
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.
According to the pilot, the airplane had been refueled to its full capacity prior to the flight to the accident airport. The pilot indicated that the "flight to the accident airport required 50 minutes, which would have burned, with start-up, taxi, and flight time, 29 gallons.” The pilot then departed the accident airport and stated that he applied full takeoff power. On climbout, the low fuel pressure light illuminated just before gear retraction, the fuel pressure then dropped to zero, and the engine abruptly lost power. A video taken at the airport where the accident occurred revealed that the airplane lost power during takeoff, impacted a tree on the left side of the departure runway, and subsequently impacted terrain. The airplane’s engine monitor data revealed no recorded engine anomalies and fuel flow monitor data indicated 32.5 gallons of fuel used up to the time of the accident, and 77.1 gallons remaining. The pilot stated that he verified the fuel prior to departure at the accident airport by visual reference of fuel gauges and airplane fuel flow meter. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the right fuel tank was full. No anomalies were detected during the examination of the engine-driven fuel pump, gascolator, and the wobble pump. The fuel selector was found selected to the reserve position, which feeds from the reserve fuel retained within the standpipe and any additional left tank fuel above that retained reserve amount. The left main and reserve standpipes and screens were installed correctly and were free of obstructions. The left fuel tank contained about four gallons of fuel when it was defueled. The pilot did not visually check the level of the fuel tank’s contents prior to departure; had he done so, he would have recognized that the left tank’s fuel level was below what was expected. Fuel usage figures provided by both the pilot and the engine monitor data indicated there should have been over 20 gallons of fuel remaining in the left tank at the time of the accident. The reason for the discrepancy between the expected and actual fuel amounts could not be determined.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The loss of engine power due to fuel starvation during climbout for undetermined reasons, because postaccident examination of the fuel system did not reveal any discrepancies that would have precluded normal engine operation. Contributing to the accident was the pilot not visually checking the fuel level prior to departure. Full narrative available
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