WPR09LA396
WPR09LA396

On August 13, 2009, about 1541 mountain daylight time, a Beech A60, N99BE, experienced a total loss of engine power while cruising en route to Pocatello, Idaho. The pilot diverted to the airport nearest his location, and he made a forced landing in an open field about 1/4 mile from the Bear Trap Airport, Minidoka, Idaho. The airplane nosed over during rollout and was substantially damaged. Nestor Aviation & Aerobatics, LLC., Chubbuck, Idaho, owned and operated the airplane. The commercial certificated pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan had been filed. The personal flight was performed under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from Boise, Idaho, about 1430.

The pilot reported to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator that, earlier in the day, he had departed Boise with a total of 89 gallons of fuel in his airplane, according to its fuel gauges. The pilot believed that upon landing in Pocatello, 57 gallons of fuel remained in the fuel tanks. The flight from Boise to Pocatello consumed 32 gallons of fuel. Prior to departing Pocatello for the approximate 190-mile return (accident) flight to Boise, the pilot added 20 gallons of fuel to the airplane.

[Note: Based upon the reported 89 gallons of fuel in the airplane when the flight commenced, and the 20 gallons subsequently added, the airplane's tanks contained a total of 109 gallons of fuel.]

The pilot stated to the Safety Board investigator that, during his preflight preparations, he relied on the airplane's fuel tank gauges and its fuel totalizer to ascertain the quantity of fuel on board. He opined the airplane had about 77 gallons of fuel in its tanks upon his 1430 takeoff. The pilot stated that, on takeoff, the fuel tank gauges indicated the tanks were between 1/3 and 1/4 full. En route to Boise, the pilot observed that the fuel tank gauges decremented as the flight progressed, and they eventually indicated the tanks were about 1/4 full.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) coordinator, at 1536 the pilot made a radio transmission to an air traffic control facility during which he stated that he had lost power in one engine. The pilot headed toward Bear Trap, the nearest airport, which was located about 39 miles short of his intended destination. About 5 minutes later, the pilot broadcast that both engines were without power. The pilot made a forced landing about 1/4 mile from Bear Trap. The airplane touched down in the underlying uneven, soft terrain and nosed over.

The FAA coordinator subsequently inspected the airplane and reported finding an estimated 2 gallons of fuel in one tank; the other tank was dry. No fuel was observed in the main fuel lines to the engines.

The FAA coordinator further reported that the airplane's last annual inspection was performed at least 7 years prior to the accident flight. The pilot reported that during the past 6 years, the airplane was operated a total of 100 hours.

Regarding the pilot's currency, the pilot reported that his last flight review was recorded in 2002, and his last aviation medical certificate was issued in 2004.

Under the direction of the Safety Board investigator, fuel consumption computations for the pilot's flight route were performed by Hawker Beechcraft Corporation. Based upon Beech's data, an A60 would be expected to consume about 56 gallons of fuel flying from Boise to Pocatello, and about 50 gallons of fuel for the return flight, for a total of about 106 gallons.

The pilot acknowledged in his completed "Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report" that no mechanical malfunctions or failures had occurred, and that "…the engine failure was due to fuel exhaustion."

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