NTSB Identification: ERA13CA107
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, January 07, 2013 in Bear Branch, KY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/07/2013
Aircraft: BREWER JAMES M KR2, registration: N216CB
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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.

Before departure, the pilot/owner filled the fuel tank, adding 1 to 2 gallons of fuel. He expected a flight duration of about 2.5 hours and wanted to land at the destination airport before dark. The departure was delayed about 15 to 20 minutes due to a problem at the fuel facility. Because of the departure delay, the pilot kept the engine rpm at a higher setting and leaned the fuel-air mixture during the climb. During cruise flight, he leaned the fuel-to-air mixture using the onboard exhaust gas temperature gauge, then slightly enriched the mixture. He reported that the fuel quantity indicator installed on the instrument panel was working but that he was not entirely clear at what level the gauge indicated empty. While the pilot was in communication with Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) and about 20 minutes from his destination airport, the engine suddenly quit. He checked the onboard GPS for the nearest airport, which was about 22 miles away. He declared an emergency with Indianapolis ARTCC and looked for a place to land, first noting a four-lane road with some traffic then observing a side road without traffic. He maneuvered the airplane for a forced landing on the side road and sideslipped the airplane. When committed for landing, he fully deployed the speedbrake because the airplane was high and fast. Before touchdown, he straightened the airplane and maneuvered to the right to avoid pedestrians on the left side of the road. While traveling about 20 to 30 mph, the right wingtip collided with a guy wire. The airplane veered to the right and the left main landing gear hit the road and a washout ditch, causing the gear to separate. The airplane slid, and the leading edge of a wing was damaged.

During recovery of the airplane, no remaining fuel was observed in the fuel tank. The pilot considered whether fuel leaked from the fuel strainer or fuel cap but reported that he did not see evidence of a leak. He stated that he believed the airplane’s fuel capacity was 15 gallons, which he used for his preflight planning; however, he noted postaccident that the fuel cap indicated a fuel capacity of 13 gallons. Given that there was less fuel on board than the pilot believed, the higher-than-normal engine rpm setting during the climb, and the lack of fuel postaccident, the evidence is consistent with exhaustion of the airplane’s fuel supply.

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

The pilot’s improper preflight planning, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion. Contributing to the fuel exhaustion was the pilot’s lack of knowledge about the airplane’s total fuel capacity and fuel quantity instrumentation.

Full narrative available

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