Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Fuel Exhaustion: Cessna 177 Cardinal, N3225T, accident occurred July 05, 2017 near Fulton County Airport (KUSE), Wauseon, Ohio

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Cleveland, Ohio

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Wauseon, OH
Accident Number: CEN17LA261
Date & Time: 07/05/2017, 1730 EDT
Registration: N3225T
Aircraft: CESSNA 177
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 1 Minor, 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


The accident occurred during the third flight since the airplane had been filled with fuel. The student pilot and flight instructor stated that the engine lost power during the base leg to final approach to turn. The flight instructor took control of the airplane but had insufficient altitude to reach the runway, so he landed the airplane in a field just short of the runway where it contacted a ditch.

The airplane had been flown about 3 hours 45 minutes since it was last filled with fuel. The expected fuel consumption for the engine was 11.7 gallons per hour (gph) at 75% power and 10.14 gph at 65% power, which resulted in an endurance of about 3 hours 30 minutes or 4 hours 10 minutes, respectively. Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed 12 ounces of fuel remained in the fuel system, and there was no evidence of fuel leakage around the airplane. Given the fuel burn calculations and the evidence, it is likely that the flight instructor did not ensure that sufficient fuel was on board for the flight, which led to fuel exhaustion and the subsequent total loss of engine power.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The flight instructor's inadequate preflight fuel planning, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.


Fuel - Fluid level (Cause)

Personnel issues
Fuel planning - Instructor/check pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Sloped/uneven terrain - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

On July 5, 2017, at 1730 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 177, N3225T, collided with the terrain during a forced landing in Wauseon, Ohio. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and student pilot were not injured; the passenger received minor injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. Visual flight rules conditions existed near the accident site at the time of the accident, and a flight plan had not been filed. The flight departed Bolton Field Airport (TZR), Columbus, Ohio, at 1615 en route to the Fulton County Airport (USE), Wauseon, Ohio.

The CFI reported they were landing at USE when the accident occurred. He stated they overflew the airport and entered a left downwind for runway 9. During the base leg to final approach turn, the engine lost power. The CFI took control of the airplane and with insufficient altitude to reach the runway, he landed the airplane in a corn field just short of the runway where it contacted a ditch.

The CFI reported to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector the airplane was filled with fuel, 42 gallons, at the beginning of the day. They practiced touch and go landings for 1 hour 15 minutes in the morning. They then landed, picked up a passenger and flew to TZR where they had lunch prior to returning to USE. The round-trip flight between TZR and USE was about 2 hours 30 minutes resulting in a total flight time of about 3 hours 45 minutes.

The engine specifications show fuel consumption at 75% power is about 11.7 gallons per hour (gph) resulting in an endurance of about 3 hours 30 minutes. The fuel consumption at 65% power is 10.14 gph resulting in an endurance of about 4 hours 10 minutes. The airplane had been equipped with a 115-horsepower engine which was changed to a 180-horsepower engine about 30 flight hours prior to the accident. The pilot stated to the FAA Inspector that they departed TZR with about 15 gallons of fuel onboard and that he intentionally wanted a lower fuel level in the airplane because a mechanic needed to look at the fuel gauges.

A FAA inspector reported that he drained 12 ounces of fuel from the airplane after the accident. He stated there was no evidence of fuel leakage around the airplane. The inspector applied battery power to the airplane and the left fuel gauge indicated full and the right fuel gauge indicated empty. The fuel gascolator had a hole in the bottom of the bowl which was consistent with impact damage.

History of Flight

Approach-VFR pattern final
Fuel exhaustion (Defining event)
Loss of engine power (total)

Off-field or emergency landing
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 22, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/26/2013
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/14/2017
Flight Time:  389 hours (Total, all aircraft), 11.2 hours (Total, this make and model), 283 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 83.8 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 48.1 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 4.1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Student Pilot Information

Certificate: Student
Age: 46, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/31/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Registration: N3225T
Model/Series: 177
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1967
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 17700525
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 09/01/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2350 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A1A
Registered Owner: MARKEY ALLEN H
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: TOL, 683 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 17 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1752 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 82°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 20°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / 12°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Columbus, OH (TZR)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Wauseon, OH (USE)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1615 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class E

Airport Information

Airport: Fulton County (USE)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 780 ft
Runway Surface Condition:
Runway Used: 09
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3862 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 2 None
Latitude, Longitude:  41.612222, -84.138889 (est)

1 comment:

  1. Fuel consumption must also take into account taxi, runup, unforeseen delays, go arounds, and climbs. Its imperative to confirm amount of fuel before any flight. good rule of thumb is to have minimum 1 hr. fuel reserve beyond required flight.