NTSB Identification: ERA12LA480
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 22, 2012 in Mapleton, ME
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/13/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA A185F, registration: N5168E
Injuries: 1 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 a cross-country flight at an altitude of about 2,500 feet mean sea level and about 5 nautical miles from the destination airport, the pilot observed a sudden decrease in engine power. After activating the high-power fuel boost pump setting and subsequently switching fuel tanks, the pilot performed a forced landing to a nearby field; the boost pump remained activated for the rest of the flight. During the landing, the airplane collided with trees, resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage and right wing. Fuel normally flows by gravity from each wing’s fuel tank to a three-position selector valve. The selector valve then allows fuel flow from either the left wing tank, the right wing tank, or both tanks simultaneously. A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed no fuel in the right wing tank, 10 to 12 gallons of fuel in the left wing tank, and unobstructed fuel lines from the left wing tank to the fuel selector. A visual engine examination and engine test run with fuel supplied directly to the fuel selector revealed no engine operating anomalies, indicating that the pilot likely had the right fuel tank selected when the engine first lost power. When the pilot attempted to regain engine power, he left the auxiliary fuel pump activated for the rest of the flight, well beyond the 3- to 5-second interval dictated by the airplane’s engine restart procedures, which likely resulted in the engine flooding.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot’s improper fuel management, which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power, and his use of an improper engine restart procedure. Full narrative available
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