Friday, January 10, 2020

Fuel Exhaustion: Cessna 172E Skyhawk, N3031U; accident occurred April 30, 2019 in Wasilla, Alaska

View of damage to the right wing.
Federal Aviation Administration

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Anchorage, Alaska

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Wasilla, AK
Accident Number: GAA19CA236
Date & Time: 04/30/2019, 1900 AKD
Registration: N3031U
Aircraft: Cessna 172
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional

The flight instructor reported that during the preflight inspection, he asked the student how much fuel was on board the airplane, and the student replied, about three hours of fuel. During the flight, the instructor observed that the right fuel gauge needle displayed, "little movement." After a brief conversation with the student regarding fuel burn, the instructor decided to return to the airport.

The student pilot was the owner of the airplane, and he reported that when the instructor asked about the fuel gauge during the flight, the student replied that the fuel gauge "works intermittently."

The student pilot reported that, about 5 nautical miles from the airport, the airplane "ran out of fuel at 3,000ft MSL." The instructor landed the airplane on a road, and the right wing struck a powerline pole.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing.

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 66, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/11/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Student Pilot Information

Certificate: Student
Age: 56, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/18/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 87 hours (Total, all aircraft), 87 hours (Total, this make and model)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N3031U
Model/Series: 172 E
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1963
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 17250631
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/28/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2300 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2562 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91 installed
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A1A
Registered Owner: On file
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: PAWS, 354 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0056 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 238°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 400 ft agl
Visibility:  8 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 6500 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 3 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 70°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 30.4 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 11°C / 0°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Wasilla, AK (PAWS)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Wasilla, AK (PAWS)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1730 ADT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 61.599167, -149.450556 (est)

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