NTSB Identification: CEN12LA149
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, February 04, 2012 in Ray, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/15/2013
Aircraft: Pipistrel Virus 912, registration: N325MZ
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

A witness reported that the motorglider engine did not sound normal during the preflight run-up and takeoff. The engine subsequently lost power when the aircraft was about 200 feet above ground level. The motorglider took off to the west and entered a gradual left turn. It impacted a golf course less than a mile from the airport. The duration of the accident flight was about 2 minutes. A postaccident examination revealed an accumulation of debris on the inlet side of the fuel pump screen; however, the debris did not appear to obstruct the screen significantly. The appearance of the debris was similar to the fiberglass material used in the construction of the airframe. The fuel tanks had been repaired shortly before the accident due to damage related to the use of alcohol-containing fuel (ethanol). The engine fuel line did not contain any fuel and the carburetors contained only a minimal amount of fuel.

Although the finding of minimal fuel at the engine was consistent with fuel starvation, a definitive reason for a starvation event could not be determined. According to a carburetor icing probability chart, an airplane operating in the ambient conditions at the time of the accident could expect a serious risk of carburetor icing while at cruise and glide power. Engine operations at low power during ground operations are similar to that of operations at glide power, making the carburetor susceptible to icing prior to takeoff; however, a conclusive determination related to the presence of carburetor icing was not possible. A prescription medication commonly used for the management of anxiety disorders and for insomnia was detected at subtherapeutic levels. However, any impairment of the pilot at the time of the accident could not be determined.

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

A loss of engine power due to fuel starvation for reasons that could not be determined because the postaccident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

Full narrative available

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