This August 2009 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Mooney M20F Injuries: 1 Serious. Location: Suffolk, Va. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: According to the pilot, when he took off the fuel indicators showed ¼ tank of fuel in both the right and left tanks. He said that he was flying around for approximately an hour before he began “buzzing” his house. The engine then lost power and he made an emergency forced landing on a road. During the rollout, the airplane hit a tree.
Examination of the fuel system revealed that both main fuel tank quantity indicators were placard “IN OP.” The airplane was equipped with electronic fuel quantity indicators. It was determined that the electronic fuel indicators were not functioning at the time of the accident. 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.”
Probable cause: A loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion as a result of the pilot’s failure to accurately calculate the fuel required for the flight. Contributing to the accident was a malfunction of the fuel quantity indicators.
For more information: NTSB.gov NTSB Identification: ERA09LA441.