NTSB Identification: CEN12LA651
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 10, 2012 in Boonville, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/24/2014
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-140, registration: N5538F
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.
The student pilot reported that he performed a preflight inspection and added 10 gallons of fuel to each tank before the solo flight. After takeoff, the airplane’s engine lost power during initial climb. He then executed a forced landing in a field. Postaccident examination of the airplane, including the fuel system and engine, found fuel in both tanks but an absence of fuel in the fuel lines from the gascolator to the mechanical fuel pump. The fuel selector was found in the off position, but the student pilot’s flight instructor reported that he had turned the fuel selector to the off position after arriving at the accident site. The instructor stated that he could not be sure, but the fuel selector may not have been fully engaged in the detent before he moved it to the off position. Although it is possible that the student pilot did not have the fuel selector properly positioned, the preimpact position of the valve could not be determined. The student pilot reported no preimpact malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: A total loss of engine power during initial climb due to fuel starvation for reasons that could not be determined because postaccident examination could not verify whether the fuel selector was properly positioned before takeoff.
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