LAX06CA026
LAX06CA026

On November 7, 2005, about 0230 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-28-161, N2111P, impacted trees and terrain near Payson, Arizona. Skyschool, Inc., was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured; the airplane was substantially damaged. The cross-country personal flight departed Odessa, Texas, about 2145 on the evening of the 6th with a planned destination of Prescott, Arizona. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The approximate global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the primary wreckage were 34 degrees 15 minutes north latitude and 111 degrees 20 minutes west longitude.

In a written statement to the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot stated that he was returning from a personal cross-country flight to Texas. About 1 hour west of St. Johns VOR (very high frequency omni-directional radio), the pilot climbed to 12,000 feet to try and reach the Drake VOR, but was unable to receive a signal and descended down to his original cruising altitude of 10,500 feet. During this maneuver the pilot noted the fuel gauges showed 5 gallons in each tank. The pilot also noted his suction indication warning light illuminated. He notified Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center (ABQ ARTCC) that he was going to make a precautionary landing at Payson Airport, Payson, Arizona. About 12 miles north of the airport the airplane began to lose partial power, and every attempt to regain full power failed. After a total loss of engine power the pilot maneuvered for an emergency landing but was unable to reach the airport. Shortly before impacting terrain, the pilot heard what sounded to him like trees striking the underside of the fuselage. After the impact he notified ABQ ARTCC of his location and his personal status, and then exited the aircraft through the side window.

According to the flight school, the last annual inspection was completed in June 2005. The flight school also performs 50-hour inspections. The last 50-hour inspection was completed on August 24, 2005.

The pilot stated that the airplane and engine had no mechanical failures or malfunctions prior to the accident.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) accident coordinator interviewed the pilot and made a copy of the pilot's logbook shortly after the accident. In the "remarks" section of the log for the flight from Prescott to Odessa, the pilot noted the following: "Almost out of fuel - 3 Gals left!!" The flight lasted 5.3 hours, and consumed 45.4 gallons, giving the airplane a fuel burn rate of 8.56 gallons per hour. Using the Hobbs meter time supplied by the pilot and operator, the airplane had been flying for 5.7 hours from Odessa to the point of impact. At a rate of 8.56 gallon per hour, a flight lasting 5.7 hours would have consumed about 48.5 gallons, exceeding the airplane manufacturer's approved pilot's operating handbook usable fuel capacity of 48 gallons.

The FAA inspector also reviewed a copy of the radio transmission recordings from ABQ ARTCC the night of the accident. After the second loss of power, the pilot told the controller: "I think my tanks are dry."

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