While In Cruise Flight About 1,000 Ft Above Ground Level, The Engine Began Running Rough

Location: Union, Nebraska Accident Number: CEN22LA260
Date & Time: June 19, 2022, 10:30 Local Registration: N208C
Aircraft: Smith Miniplane DSA-1 Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

Analysis: The pilot reported that, while in cruise flight about 1,000 ft above ground level, the engine began running rough. The pilot subsequently made a forced landing into a wooded area, which resulted in substantial damage to the airplane. Postaccident examination revealed that no fuel was present in the fuel line from the engine-driven pump to the carburetor. The carburetor bowl was completely dry, and the fuel tank was empty when viewed with a borescope. No anomalies were observed with the fuel cap vent, filler neck, carburetor, engine cylinders, magnetos, or the engine’s mechanical continuity.

Based on the available evidence, it is likely that the airplane’s fuel supply was exhausted due to the pilot’s inadequate fuel planning, leading to a loss of engine power and forced landing. The airplane was not equipped with a fuel quantity gauge, which likely contributed to the pilot’s lack of awareness of the airplane’s low fuel state.

Probable Cause and Findings–The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot’s inadequate fuel planning, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov