Pilot Forced to Land Aircraft due to Fuel Starvation

The aircraft had nearly 25 gallons of fuel in the left wing fuel tank and the right wing fuel tank had nearly 8 gallons of fuel when it took off from the runway.

The pilot had positioned the fuel selector on the left wing fuel tank.

The aircraft was a Mooney N20J and the airport was near Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The intention of the pilot was to practice takeoffs and landings.

After flying for nearly 30 minutes, the aircraft was in its fourth takeoff and was nearly 400 to 500 feet above the runway.

And the engine stopped turning.

There was no other option left for pilot but to land straight ahead and the aircraft went straight into a fence.

The investigation of the plane crash revealed that there was fuel leaking from the aircraft, but the left and right wing were damaged in the accident.

The damaged aircraft still had nearly 10 gallons of fuel in the left tank and nearly 5 gallons of fuel in the right tank.

The fuel that was still there in both the tanks was more than the unusable fuel limit of both of them.

The fuel line that connects the engine-driven fuel pump with the fuel servo was taken apart, and no fuel was found in this line.

The fuel line that connects the engine driven fuel pump with the boost pump was also disconnected. Now when the boost pump was run, it pushed out the fuel in pulsating spray, indicating there was air in the line.

Based on investigation it was concluded that the engines stopped giving power as there was interruption in fuel flow. However, the reason why this interruption happened in the fuel flow could not be found out.

Probable cause of plane crash: The engine stopped producing power due to interruption in fuel flow during takeoff. The reason why fuel flow was interrupted could not be determined during testing and investigation.

NTSD Identification ERA15LA177

This April 2015 plane crash report was published on the website of National Transportation Safety Board. This article is written for education purpose only and to make fellow pilots and aviators aware of the problems that may occur during flying.


One thought on “Pilot Forced to Land Aircraft due to Fuel Starvation

  • April 17, 2017 at 7:17 am

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