NTSB Identification: ERA12FA021
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, October 23, 2011 in Lexington, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/08/2012
Aircraft: ELKIND BRUCE COZY MK IV, registration: N795DB
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.

According to the passenger, when the cross-country flight was about 20 minutes from the destination airport, the pilot informed him that they had 7 gallons of fuel remaining in the right fuel tank. The passenger encouraged the pilot to switch to the left fuel tank, but he declined. The passenger asked the pilot if he was going to land straight ahead on the runway that was aligned with their course. The pilot stated no, he was going to enter a left downwind for the opposite direction runway. About 2.25 hours into the flight, the pilot lowered the nosewheel and was about to turn from the downwind leg to the base leg of the traffic pattern, when the engine began sputtering. The pilot initiated a steep descending turn toward the runway and did not attempt to change the fuel tank. The airplane collided with trees and terrain about 1/8 mile before the runway.

Examination of the crash site revealed that the airplane impacted an isolated clump of trees in an open, flat soybean field. During postaccident examination of the airplane, the fuel selector valve was found positioned between the left tank position and the off position; however, this may not represent the pre-impact position of the valve, because the cables connected to the valve could have moved during the impact sequence. The left and right fuel sump tanks were not ruptured, the left sump tank contained about 1 gallon of fuel, and the right sump tank was empty. The left and right main fuel tanks were ruptured and contained no fuel. No evidence of fuel leakage from either main tank was noted.

Examination of the airframe, flight controls, and engine assembly did not reveal evidence of any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Based on the passenger’s statement and the fuel quantities found in the sump tanks, it is likely that the pilot delayed switching to the left fuel tank and allowed the right fuel tank to run dry.

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

The pilot's inadequate fuel management, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.

Full narrative available

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