NTSB Identification: ERA13LA117
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 22, 2013 in Danbury, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/30/2014
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR20, registration: N140PG
Injuries: 3 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 flight instructor was conducting a two-leg, cross-country familiarization flight at night with a private pilot. The flight instructor reported that, before departure, he used a flashlight to look in the airplane’s fuel tanks and determined that they contained 25 gallons of usable fuel and that the two flight legs would require 23.3 gallons of fuel. He then entered 22 gallons in the airplane’s multifunction display (MFD) fuel totalizer. The airplane reached its destination airport and departed on the return flight without incident; however, shortly after takeoff, the low fuel caution light illuminated. The airplane subsequently experienced a total loss of engine power. The flight instructor deployed the airplane’s parachute system, and the airplane subsequently descended into trees about 3 miles northeast of the airport. Postaccident examination of the airplane did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation, and less than 1 gallon of fuel was drained from the fuel tanks.
The president of the flight school stated that, 2 days before the accident, he had 42 gallons of fuel added to the fuel tanks. He then entered 40 gallons in the airplane’s MFD fuel totalizer. He flew two more flights and estimated that the fuel totalizer should have indicated between 14 and 16 gallons before the first leg of the accident flight. Recorded MFD data showed that the total amount of fuel used since the last refueling was 42.4 gallons. The flight instructor likely overestimated the amount of fuel in the airplane before departure and entered the wrong amount into the MFD fuel totalizer, which led to an erroneous display of the actual amount of fuel remaining and his belief that the airplane had sufficient fuel for the flight.

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

The flight instructor’s inadequate preflight inspection in which he incorrectly estimated the airplane’s fuel quantity and his improper reliance on the fuel totalizer rather than the fuel quantity indicating and warning systems to determine the fuel on board, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

Full narrative available

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