NTSB Identification: CEN12CA051
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 01, 2011 in Borger, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/18/2012
Aircraft: DOWNER BELLANCA 14-19-2, registration: N711W
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was on a cross-country flight at 9,500 feet mean sea level. About 20 miles from his destination, he started the descent to the airport. The pilot reported that he looked at his fuel gauge and decided to switch fuel tanks when the airplane reached 5,000 feet. As he leveled the airplane, the engine lost power before the pilot switched fuel tanks. He turned on the fuel pump and attempted to turn the fuel selector knob. However, the knob broke in half, leaving just the post. Unable to turn the post and restart the engine, the pilot elected to conduct a forced landing in an open area. During the forced landing, the left wing was nearly severed in two by impact with a tree, the landing gear collapsed, and the fuselage sustained substantial damage. After the accident, the pilot stated that he mistakenly turned the fuel gauge selector knob and not the fuel selector knob then got distracted by the knob breaking.

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 as a result of the pilot’s improper fuel management. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s diverted attention with the broken fuel gauge knob.

Full narrative available

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