NTSB Identification: ERA12CA276
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, April 10, 2012 in Iuka, MS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/15/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-151, registration: N43003
Injuries: 2 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.

On the day before the accident, the pilot and passenger flew the airplane 575 miles from their home airport to conduct business. The pilot reported that during that flight he observed a discrepancy with the airplane's fuel quantity indicating gauges but that the gauges seemed to work correctly when he "pushed" on the edge of the instrument panel. After landing, the pilot requested that the airplane be refueled, but when he returned the next day to prepare for the return flight, the fuel tanks had not been filled. The pilot visually observed the fuel quantity in both fuel tanks and estimated that there was sufficient fuel for about 3.5 hours of flying, so he decided to take off and stop for fuel during the return flight. About 2.5 hours and 300 miles into the flight, the plot began searching for an airport where he could land and refuel the airplane. Shortly thereafter, the airplane's engine began losing power, so the pilot switched fuel tanks and diverted to nearest airport, which was about 14 miles away. About 4 miles from the airport, the engine lost all power, and the pilot performed a forced landing in a field. The airplane struck several trees during the landing roll, shearing the wings from the fuselage. The pilot reported no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airplane, with the exception of the accuracy of the airplane's fuel gauges. Examination of the wreckage at the accident scene revealed no evidence of any fuel, fuel spillage, fuel leakage, or odor of fuel.

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

The pilot's improper preflight planning and inflight fuel management, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

Full narrative available

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