On October 28, 2004, at 2115 central daylight time (CDT), N2845Q, a Cessna 172L, registered to and operated by Gulf Atlantic Airways, collided with the ground 300 feet short of runway 14 at Mobile Regional Airport, Mobile, Alabama, following a loss of engine power. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91, and visual flight rules (VFR). Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and a VFR flight plan was filed, and activated. The commercial pilot and three passengers were not injured and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight originated at Gainesville Regional Airport, Gainesville, Florida, at 1830 eastern daylight time on October 28, 2004.

According to the pilot, the purpose of the flight was a cross-country to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He stated he began planning his flight earlier in the day on October 28, 2004, and discussed his flight plan with a Gulf Atlantic Airways certified flight instructor. The pilot stated that his intended point of refueling was Carr Memorial Airport, Bogalusa, Louisiana. He stated during preflight inspection of the airplane, he observed the fuel level in both wing fuel tanks and believed that the airplane was full of fuel. He reported an uneventful run-up, take-off, climb, and cruise. He stated that he received Air Traffic Control (ATC) VFR flight following services during the flight. However at 2105 CDT, approximately 10-20 miles north-northwest of Mobile Regional Airport, at 8,500 feet altitude, the pilot established radio contact with Mobile Tower and reported complete loss of engine power. He stated that he attempted to restart the engine, but was unsuccessful. The tower controller cleared the flight to land on runway 14. The pilot was further cleared to maneuver as neccessary for the approach to land. The airplane collided with the ground 300 feet short of runway 14.

According to the CFI employed by Gulf Atlantic Airways, he and the pilot spent an hour discussing cross country planning and procedures on the day of the accident flight. He stated that they specifically discussed fuel consumption, refueling stops enroute, and altitude enroute. The CFI stated that he flew with another student in the accident airplane, before the accident flight. The CFI reported that the airplane was full of fuel when he and the student departed and they flew the airplane for one hour. He stated that when he returned from his flight, he observed the pilot still planning his flight. The CFI stated he reminded the pilot to have the fuel tanks "topped off." The CFI stated that later that evening he received a telephone call from the pilot stating that he had been in an aircraft accident. The CFI stated that the pilot stated he "started his GPS timer when he took off. When the engine shut off... the timer was at three hours and 36 minutes."

Review of refueling records on file at University Air Center and Gulf Atlantic Airways, revealed the airplane was topped off with 100 low lead fuel on October 27, 2004. The airplane flew one hour on October 28, 2004, and was not refueled before the accident flight.

The post-accident examination of the airplane revealed that the right wing outboard of the wing strut attach point was crushed aft, the left wing tip was separated, and the upper wing skin was buckled. The main landing gear were collapsed and the nose landing gear was separated. The engine assembly was separated from the firewall and the engine mounts. The engine compartment firewall and forward fuselage were buckled, and the windscreen was separated from its mounts.

The post-accident examination of the engine revealed suction and compression and valve action on all cylinders. The crankshaft was manually rotated through 360 degrees and engine drive-train continuity was established. The right magneto produced an ignition spark to each spark plug ignition lead when rotated. Examination of the fuel system revealed that both wing fuel tanks were intact, and less than one pint of 100 low lead fuel was recovered from the right wing fuel tank. No fuel was recovered from the left wing fuel tank. No fuel was recovered from the fuel strainer, carburetor, or fuel line from the fuel strainer to the carburetor.

According to the 172L Owner's Manual, the standard wing fuel tanks have a capacity of 42 gallons of fuel, of which 38 gallons are usable fuel. The cruise fuel consumption in standard conditions at gross weight, with the mixture leaned, ranges from 6.5 gallons per hour to 10 gallons per hour. Additionally, according to the Owner's Manual, the climb fuel consumption, from sea level to 8,500 feet, at gross weight, with full power, in standard conditions, and with the mixture leaned above 5,000 feet, ranges from 3 gallons to 6 gallons of fuel.

The pilot is a citizen of El Salvador and holds a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued commercial pilot certificate with airplane single- and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane ratings, only when accompanied by his Chilean pilot license.

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