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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: ERA15LA149
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, March 09, 2015 in Fort Myers, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/14/2015
Aircraft: PIPER PA-24-250, registration: N6514P
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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 pilot reported that, about 10 miles from the destination airport, he switched the left and right fuel tanks from the auxiliary position to the main tank position. On final approach for landing and when the airplane was at an altitude of about 500 ft, the engine stopped producing power. The propeller continued to rotate, but the engine did not respond to throttle inputs. The pilot stated that he then switched the fuel selectors from the main tank position back to the auxiliary tank position and turned on the electric fuel boost pumps, but the engine did not regain power. He added that, each time he moved the fuel selectors, he visually confirmed their position. The pilot performed a forced landing to a parking lot, during which the airframe aft of the engine compartment was fractured and the fuselage was substantially damaged. There was no odor of fuel or evidence of fuel spillage at the accident scene; however, the fuel caps were removed, and large quantities of fuel were found in each wing tank. Examination of the cockpit revealed that both the left and right tank fuel selectors were in the “off” position and that the fuel selector position decal had been displaced upward and over each handle by impact forces, which indicates that the fuel selectors were in the “off” position at impact and not moved subsequently. Continuity of the fuel system was confirmed from all four fuel tanks, through the fuel selectors, to the fuel supply line forward of the firewall. The engine was test run, and it started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran without interruption at all power settings.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's inadvertent placement of both fuel selectors to the "off" position, which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power.