NTSB Identification: CEN13LA381
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 30, 2013 in Hot Springs, AR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/02/2014
Aircraft: BEECH C23, registration: N3KT
Injuries: 2 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 departed with 50 gallons of fuel onboard (confirmed by receipts and a lineman) of which 2.6 gallons was unusable. The pilots verified that the fuel was correct and was not contaminated. During the flight, they appropriately leaned the mixture for each altitude at which they were flying. About 1 hour into the flight, they switched to the left fuel tank, and about 1 hour 42 minutes later, they switched back to the right fuel tank. About 8 miles from the airport, the engine lost power. The pilots turned on the fuel pump, and the engine regained power briefly. They selected the left fuel tank, and the engine again regained power. The pilots expected to make the airport and estimated that 8 gallons of fuel remained, which would have met required fuel reserves. About 3 miles from the airport, the engine lost power again. The pilots switched to the right fuel tank. However, the engine produced short “bursts of power.” At this point, the left seat pilot turned control over to the right seat pilot. A small, clear, grassy area was selected for a forced landing. The left wing impacted a tree, and the nose hit another tree. An examination of the airplane revealed that the fuel tanks were intact. The flight’s fuel planning was reviewed and found to be adequate to complete the flight. Using the manufacturer’s “best power” fuel mixture setting, 41.6 gallons of fuel would be needed to complete the flight. However, 26 ounces of fuel was recovered from both fuel tanks. The pilots stated the fuel gauges worked during the flight. The pilot operating handbook indicated that it is “the pilot’s responsibility to ascertain that the fuel quantity indicators are functioning and maintaining a reasonable degree of accuracy, and to be certain of ample fuel for a flight.” It is likely that the pilots did not use the best power fuel mixture setting throughout the flight, thus burning more fuel than they had planned for the flight. However, they should have been monitoring the fuel consumption and landed before the fuel was exhausted.

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

The pilots’ failure to monitor and manage fuel consumption during cruise flight, which resulted in fuel exhaustion and a subsequent forced landing.

Full narrative available

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