Monday, April 13, 2020

Loss of Engine Power (Total): Pitts S-2B, N487J; accident occurred April 10, 2020 near Flying Oaks Airport (2TE2), Azle, Texas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Irving, Texas

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Accident Number: CEN20CA146
Date & Time: April 10, 2020, 17:44 Local 
Registration: N487J
Aircraft: Pitts S2
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot reported that, during his preflight inspection, he determined that the fuel tank was about 1/2 full (12 gallons). After the airplane departed the airport and reached about 1,300 ft above ground level, the engine lost all power. The pilot turned back to the airport and chose a field for a forced landing. The airplane landed hard, the landing gear collapsed, and the airplane then flipped over and came to rest upside down, which resulted in substantial damage to the vertical stabilizer and rudder. Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the fuel tank contained about 1 gallon of fuel. Following the accident, the pilot stated that he realized he had misread the fuel gauge and that there were only about 3 gallons of fuel onboard at takeoff. Based on this information, it is likely the loss of engine power was due to fuel exhaustion.

Probable Cause and Findings

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


Personnel issues Fuel planning - Pilot
Aircraft Fuel - Inadequate inspection
Aircraft Fuel - Fluid level

Factual Information

History of Flight

Prior to flight Preflight or dispatch event
Enroute Fuel exhaustion
Enroute Loss of engine power (total) (Defining event)
Landing Off-field or emergency landing
Landing Hard landing
Landing Landing gear collapse
Landing Roll over

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Engineer; Military; Private
Age: 61, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Rear
Other Aircraft Rating(s):None 
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present:No 
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed:No 
Medical Certification: Class 1 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/13/2020
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/06/2020
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 20000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 300 hours (Total, this make and model), 10000 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 150 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Pitts
Registration: N487J
Model/Series: S2 B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1987
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Aerobatic; Normal
Serial Number: 5127
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/02/2020, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1700 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 1951 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:  as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: AEIO-540-D4A5
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 260 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: KNFW, 608 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1752 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 131°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 25000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction:160° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.98 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 7°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Fort Worth, TX
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Cleburne, TX (CPT)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1740 CDT
Type of Airspace: Unknown 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 32.815556, -97.543056