NTSB Identification: ERA14CA104
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 26, 2014 in Rutherfordton, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/23/2014
Aircraft: MOONEY M20C, registration: N6762U
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.
According to the pilot, he checked the fuel gauges in the airplane before departing on a cross country flight. He stated that the left fuel gauge indicated 1/2 tank and the right fuel gauge indicated 1/4 tank. The pilot did not visually check the fuel quantity in the tanks and did not take on any additional fuel. Approximately 60 nautical miles (NM) from his destination, he switched from the left fuel tank to the right fuel tank. The engine began to "stutter" and he switched back to the left fuel tank and the engine resumed normal operation. He located the nearest airport which was 10 NM from his location and made a turn towards it. Shortly thereafter, the engine began to "stutter" again and the pilot shut the engine down and made an emergency landing in a field. During the emergency landing, the airplane collided with trees, and sustained substantial damage to the wings and fuselage. Examination of the fuel system revealed that the fuel tanks were not breached, and the left and right fuel tanks contained less than 1 gallon of fuel in each. A review of the pilot operating handbook (POH) revealed that each fuel tank held 26 gallons of fuel, for a total of 52 gallons. The POH stated that there is 48 gallons of usable fuel, which left 4 gallons of fuel unusable. The POH also revealed that the fuel tanks should be visually checked before flight.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's inadequate pre-flight planning and in-flight monitoring of the fuel level which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion. Full narrative available
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