On November 24, 2006, at 0851 Pacific standard time, a Cessna T210M airplane, N977SA, impacted a telephone line and an open field after losing engine power near the North Las Vegas Airport (VGT), Las Vegas, Nevada. The private pilot and five passengers were not injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The pilot operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan had not been filed for the cross-country flight that originated from Salt Lake City (SLC), Utah, at 0650 (0750 mountain standard time). The accident site was located at 36 degrees 12.98 minutes north latitude and 115 degrees 10.17 minutes west longitude. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot's written statement, he calculated that the airplane would be at the maximum gross weight of 3,800 pounds with passengers, baggage, and 320 pounds of fuel (approximately 53 gallons). The pilot checked the fuel consumption from a similar trip, which took place on October 26, 2006, and noted that the airplane used 33.5 gallons of fuel. Based on the previous trip's fuel consumption, the pilot believed the 320 pounds of fuel would be adequate to complete the flight with 30 minutes of fuel reserve.
The pilot further stated that the winds aloft for their planned altitude were forecast to be from 260 degrees at 10 knots. The no-wind flight time for the 322-mile trip from SLC to VGT was reported by the pilot to be 1 hour 50 minutes. The pilot recalculated the total flight time utilizing the winds aloft data and determined that the total flight time increased by approximately 5 minutes. The pilot then recalculated his estimated fuel consumption and determined that the 320 pounds of fuel would be sufficient to conduct the trip with adequate reserve.
The pilot said he monitored the fuel gauges "constantly" throughout the flight, and the fuel flow gauge indicated about 95 pounds of fuel per hour during the cruise portion of the flight. About 65 minutes into the trip, the left tank fuel quantity gauge indicated 45 pounds (about 7.5 gallons) of fuel remaining. The pilot positioned the fuel tank selector to the right tank so that he would have the 30-minute reserve fuel available from the left tank during the descent. He believed, at that time, that he would be able to finish the flight utilizing the right fuel tank.
Approximately 15 miles from VGT, the right fuel tank was emptied and the engine began to run rough. The pilot switched the fuel selector back to the left tank, as the right tank fuel quantity gauge was indicating empty. With the left fuel tank still indicating 45 pounds remaining, the pilot evaluated the situation and believed the airplane had enough fuel to complete the last 5 to 10 minutes of the flight. As the airplane descended through 3,800 feet above the ground, the pilot maneuvered the airplane on right base for runway 30L. When the airplane was about 4 miles from the airport (about 5 minutes after switching to the left fuel tank), the engine lost power. The pilot declared an emergency and attempted to restart the engine, successfully doing so intermittently for only a few seconds. The engine lost power for the final time when the airplane was about 2 miles from the airport. The pilot attempted a landing to an open field, but impacted a telephone line and terrain.
On the day of the accident, the pilot informed the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge that he had exhausted the fuel during the flight. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's aviation unit responded to the accident site after hearing the pilot's emergency transmissions. A report provided by the aviation unit indicated that the pilot said that he believed he had 30 minutes of fuel remaining when the engine lost power, but added that he had mismanaged his fuel. He further stated that he thought about refueling at the Mesquite Airport (located about 66 nautical miles northeast of VGT), but finally elected to continue to VGT instead.