ERA09LA441
ERA09LA441

On August 3, 2009, about 1700 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20F, N3549N, made a forced landing and collided with trees near Suffolk, Virginia. The private pilot was seriously injured, and the two passengers were uninjured. The airplane was substantially damaged by impact forces. The flight was operated as a personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight originated from Suffolk Executive Airport, Suffolk, Virginia, at 1630.

The pilot stated that he departed with ¼ tank of fuel in the right and left main fuel tanks. He said that he was flying around for approximately an hour before he began "buzzing" his house. He made a series of sharp banks, and the engine lost power. He made an emergency forced landing on a road, and during roll out the airplane collided with a tree.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the airframe and flight control system components showed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunctions. Examination of the fuel system revealed that both main fuel tanks were empty of fuel, and that the tanks were not breached. Further examination of the fuel system revealed that the main fuel tank quantity indicators were placarded "inop." The airplane was equipped with electronic fuel quantity indicators: Electronics International FL 2RA-12. Examination of the electronic fuel indicators revealed when the battery master switch was turned ON, the indicator showed different readings in each toggled position (left, total, right), when switching back to that position. When toggled to the “left”: the indicator read 23.0 gallons of fuel with the left LED illuminated above the ½ mark and the right LED illuminated red for 0. Toggle to “right” and back to “left” had an indication of 16.5 gallons of fuel with left LED on ½ mark and right LED now on yellow mark. Similar readings were found when switching to “total” or “right”, with the right side displaying 4.5 gallons of fuel. Review of the Dual Fuel Level (FL-2) operating and installation instructions stated: (do not solely rely on the FL-2 to determine the fuel levels in the fuel tanks). The instructions also required that a placard reading (do not solely rely on the fuel levels instrument to determine the fuel levels in the aircraft) be mounted on the aircraft instrument panel near the FL-2. Examination of the engine by the FAA inspector revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction.

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