Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Fuel Starvation: Piper PA-28-180, N747KM; accident occurred December 05, 2017 near Brewton Municipal Airport (12J), Escambia County, Alabama

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Brewton, AL
Accident Number: ERA18LA041
Date & Time: 12/05/2017, 1400 CST
Registration: N747KM
Aircraft: PIPER PA28
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel starvation
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 5, 2017, about 1400 central standard time, a Piper PA-28-180, N747KM, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Brewton, Alabama. The private pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the personal flight that departed Dekalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK), Atlanta, Georgia, and was destined for Pensacola International Airport (PNS), Pensacola, Florida. The airplane was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot, the airplane was in cruise flight, at 8,000 ft mean sea level, for "a couple hours" when the air traffic control (ATC) controller told him to descend to 4,000 ft and fly around some thunderstorms in that area. The pilot stated there were strong headwinds and he would have preferred to stay at the higher altitude, but complied with the direction from ATC. Subsequently, the engine experienced a total loss of power, and he notified ATC that he wanted to divert to Brewton Municipal Airport (12J), Brewton, Alabama. The pilot further stated that due to the strong headwind, he knew the airplane was not going to be able to glide to 12J, so he attempted to land in a field. During the approach to the field, the airplane collided with some tree tops and landed hard in the field. During the roll-out, the airplane contacted a fence post, which damaged the right wing.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the airplane sustained damage to the landing gear fairings, right side of the fuselage, firewall, and right wing leading edge. There was additional damage to the horizontal stabilator, propeller and the right-wing fuel tank was breached and leaking fuel. The right-wing fuel tank was approximately ½ full. The left-wing fuel tank, which was undamaged, contained approximately 20 fluid ounces of fuel. One ounce of fuel was recovered from the firewall mounted fuel strainer bowl. The fuel selector valve was found in the left fuel tank position. The FAA inspector examined the engine and did not find any preimpact mechanical deficiencies that would have precluded normal operation. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 32, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/24/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 10/26/2017
Flight Time:   (Estimated) 300 hours (Total, all aircraft), 83 hours (Total, this make and model), 197 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 75 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 51 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N747KM
Model/Series: PA28 180
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 28-7305149
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 09/30/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2505 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4344 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed
Engine Model/Series: O-360 SER
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: KNDZ, 178 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 18 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1956 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 178°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2300 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3600 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots / 19 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 190°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: 
Altimeter Setting: 30.07 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C / 21°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: ATLANTA, GA (PDK)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Pensacola, FL (PNS)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 1100 EST
Type of Airspace: Class E

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 31.010833, -87.037222 (est)


  1. Switch fuel tanks? Why? I never had to do that in the 172.

  2. Right you are - couldn't find "both" on the low wing aircraft fuel selector and was never trained to know why (or ignored that portion of instruction). Is it culture now to not read the POH or get a check ride in a new type?


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