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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: GAA17CA233
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, April 11, 2017 in Llano, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/31/2017
Aircraft: PIPER PA 34, registration: N461RL
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot in the multiengine, retractable-gear-equipped airplane reported that he was flying in instrument meteorological conditions and leveled off at 8,000 ft mean sea level. He began to configure the airplane for cruise flight, and he realized that the right engine cross-feed fuel selector was positioned for the left tank. The left tank fuel indicator displayed empty, and the right fuel indicator displayed 45 gallons remaining. He believed that the fuel indicators had malfunctioned, and he established an approach to a nearby highway intersection. The pilot landed with the landing gear stowed on the asphalt highway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the lower fuselage longerons.  
Per the National Transportation Safety Board Pilot Aircraft Accident Report, the pilot reported that he became complacent during the flight and vowed to use a checklist in the future. The pilot has coordinated with his local Federal Aviation Administration Safety Team to help prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.  
The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot’s complacency during the en route phase of flight, which resulted in fuel mismanagement and a subsequent gear-up landing.