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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: MIA02LA050
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Thursday, January 17, 2002 in Lake Placid, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/25/2002
Aircraft: Mooney M20J, registration: N201XL
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The flight departed VFR and just as the aircraft became airborne, the engine lost power. The pilot lost directional control, and crashed into an adjacent orange grove off the left side of the runway abeam a point about 3/4 way down the 3,000 foot runway. The aircraft received substantial damage and the pilot sustained minor injuries. Postcrash examination of the aircraft revealed the right wing contained no fuel and was the fuel source selected on the fuel selector. The left wing was nearly full. A postcrash examination of the engine's fuel injection distribution block revealed no fuel. Postcrash engine run revealed a fully operational engine. The pilot performed a visual check of fuel aboard the evening prior to his early morning departure, and noted 26 gallons of fuel in the right wing tank and 32 gallons of fuel in the left wing tank. He did not perform a visual check of fuel as part of his preflight walk around inspection the morning of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The failure of the pilot to perform a proper preflight inspection and his improper fuel tank selection for takeoff, resulting in a loss of engine power on takeoff due to fuel starvation, and the pilot's failure to maintain directional control of the aircraft resulting in an uncontrollable descent and collision with orange trees and terrain.