NTSB Identification: ERA12LA486
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 27, 2012 in Blacksburg, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/09/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-24-250, registration: N6248P
Injuries: 4 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.

The airplane was approaching the destination airport, and, according to the pilot, the left fuel selector was set to the left main tank and the right fuel selector was set to the right main tank. The engine began to lose power, and the pilot subsequently applied carburetor heat and placed the right fuel selector to the right tip tank position. However, the engine did not regain power. The pilot made a forced landing in the airport parking lot, and the airplane collided with a perimeter fence, resulting in structural wing damage.

Postaccident examination of the wreckage revealed that neither of the main fuel tanks contained usable fuel. The right tip tank contained about 7.5 gallons of fuel; however, the fuel selector was placarded with a note stating that the tip tanks were for use in level flight only. With the left main tank selected and no fuel in that tank, air would have been introduced into the fuel system, resulting in fuel starvation. The pilot’s preflight planning indicated an en route time of 2 hours 32 minutes. However, when the loss of power occurred, the flight had been airborne for about 3 hours 39 minutes. The pilot reported that he was not sure if the airplane’s fuel gauges were accurate, so he relied on fuel burn rate calculations during the flight.

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

The pilot’s inadequate preflight planning and improper in-flight fuel management, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.

Full narrative available

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