NTSB Identification: WPR12LA023
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 28, 2011 in Prineville, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/2014
Aircraft: CESSNA 185, registration: N520YH
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
During the descent to the destination airport, when the airplane was about 10 miles out and descending through about 6,500 feet, the engine experienced a total loss of power. In response to the power loss, the pilot manipulated the throttle, mixture, and propeller controls, but the engine did not regain power. When the pilot recognized that the airplane would not be able to reach the destination airport, he conducted a forced landing on an unpaved road. During the landing roll at a groundspeed of about 10 mph, the airplane struck some vegetation, and it then nosed over onto its back. The pilot reported that, at the time of the engine power loss, the electronic fuel flow instrument indicated that 16 gallons of usable fuel was remaining, which he believed was sufficient fuel for about 1 more hour of flight and to reach the destination airport. During recovery, the fuel tanks were observed to contain about 16 gallons of total fuel, and the fuel selector handle was found set to the left tank. However, it was determined that some fuel had migrated from the fuller right tank to the nearly empty left tank via the tank vent line while the airplane was inverted. The pilot stated that his typical habit was to operate the airplane with the fuel selector set to the “both” position, but that, at some point during the flight, he had moved the fuel selector to the left tank to correct a fuel imbalance with the intention of resetting it to the “both” position once the imbalance had been corrected. The pilot reported that he realized that he had forgotten to reset the fuel selector to the “both” position and that this caused the power loss. The pilot reported that he did not manipulate the fuel selector handle after the power loss because he did not believe that he had a fuel problem and that he did not refer to any emergency checklists. The Pilot’s Operating Handbook contained an engine failure during flight checklist, which included the step to place the fuel selector valve in the ”both” position, which the pilot did not do.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: A total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation, which resulted from the pilot inadvertently leaving the fuel selector set to the left tank. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s deviation from his normal habit pattern and his failure to refer to the in-flight engine failure checklist after the engine power loss.
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