NTSB Identification: ERA12FA002
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, October 02, 2011 in Ewell, MD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/13/2012
Aircraft: TEMCO GC-1B, registration: N3825K
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 pilot made an uneventful 45-minute cross country flight from his home airport to the destination airport. About 10 minutes into the return flight, the airplane was cruising over water at 2,000 feet mean sea level when it experienced a total loss of engine power. The pilot attempted to glide to an island and performed emergency procedures; however, he did not verify the position of the fuel tank selector. The airplane glided about 2 miles before ditching in the water. The airplane was equipped with main and auxiliary fuel tanks that held 26 and 9 gallons of fuel, respectively, and the engine burned about 9 gallons of fuel per hour; the pilot reported that both tanks were full when he departed from his home airport. The pilot further reported that, if he had accidentally left the fuel selector positioned to the auxiliary fuel tank prior to departing his home airport, he would have had just enough fuel to fly the outbound leg, begin the return leg, and lose engine power where he did. When the airplane was recovered, the fuel selector was found positioned to the auxiliary fuel tank. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions. In the pilot’s operating handbook for the airplane, the procedure for an engine failure during flight stated that, for airplanes equipped with an auxiliary fuel tank, the pilot should ascertain that the fuel selector valve is on a tank containing fuel.

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

The pilot's improper fuel management in that he did not verify the fuel selector position before beginning the flight or after the power loss, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation and subsequent ditching.

Full narrative available

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