On June 30, 2000, about 1520 eastern daylight time, a Bellanca 17-30A, N8787V, registered to an individual, crashed while attempting a forced landing following loss of engine power near Albany, Georgia, while on a Title 14 CFR Part 91 instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft was destroyed and the private-rated pilot and commercial-rated check pilot received serious injuries. The flight originated from Albany, Georgia, the same day, about 1515.

The pilot stated he was giving the dual student a biennial flight review. The startup and takeoff were normal. At about 1,000 feet, the dual student, who was flying the aircraft, made a power reduction to 2,500 rpm and 25 inches manifold pressure. Shortly after this, the dual student switched fuel tanks. The engine failed and the dual student switched fuel tanks again, but the engine did not restart. The pilot took the controls and identified the closest field for an emergency landing. The dual student switched fuel tanks again and continued to try to restart the engine. The boost pump was properly engaged each time the tank was changed but no fuel pressure or fuel flow registered on the gauge. The pilot saw that they would not make the selected open field, and as they approached tree tops, he slowed the aircraft and attempted to steer to the most open spot among the trees. The aircraft impacted the trees and then the ground, coming to rest upright.

The dual student stated that on the previous flight, another pilot ran a fuel tank dry. He was not sure which fuel tank. On the day of the accident, he was finishing his biennial flight review. After takeoff, while climbing through 1,000 feet, he reduced power to 2,500 rpm and 25 inches manifold pressure. He then switched fuel tanks. The engine immediately quit and he turned on the electric fuel boost pump, but the check pilot noticed the fuel flow gauge read zero at this time. He then switched back to the left tank. The engine still did not start. The pilot took control of the aircraft and turned toward a peanut field for a forced landing, but the aircraft touched down in a wooded area, about 150 yards short of the field.

Examination of the engine and aircraft fuel system by an FAA inspector showed the engine fuel manifold valve and engine fuel system did not contain fuel. The electric fuel boost pump operated only in the prime or high boost position. A wire on the electric fuel boost pump switch was disconnect from the on or low position. When the wire was reconnected the electric fuel boost pump operated in the on or low boost position.

The flight manual for the aircraft has a note under the title "Fuel Controls" which states "In the event a fuel tank has been run dry and is refueled with fuel selector valve off, or set on other than noted tank, it is possible to have air in the lines. This should be eliminated by running up engine on noted tank or tanks before takeoff." The flight manual also states under "Airstart" "The auxiliary fuel pump normally used for starting the engine is also used to restore fuel pressure after switching from an empty tank. If a tank is inadvertently run completely dry, it is necessary to actuate the auxiliary fuel pump in the on position to restore fuel pressure and restart the engine." Pages from the flight manual are an attachment to this report.

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