Saturday, June 05, 2021

Fuel Starvation: Van's RV-9A, N20YY; accident occurred June 04, 2021 in West Portsmouth, Scioto County, Ohio

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Cincinnati, Ohio 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: West Portsmouth, Ohio
Accident Number: CEN21LA250
Date and Time: June 4, 2021, 18:45 Local 
Registration: N20YY
Aircraft: Vans RV9 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel starvation 
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot reported he’d taken off and was about 10 minutes from the airport when the airplane’s engine lost power and began to descend. The pilot misdiagnosed the power loss as an electronic ignition problem and troubleshot it as such. However, after turning on the electric fuel pump and switching fuel tanks several times, the pilot was unable to restore engine power and elected to perform a forced landing to a field. During the forced landing the airplane nosed over and came to rest inverted. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the rudder. Federal Aviation Administration inspectors reported that during a postaccident examination of the airplane the right fuel tank was empty, and the left fuel tank had about 4 gallons of fuel. The fuel selector had the right fuel tank selected. No other mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane were found that would have precluded normal operations. The pilot reported he spoke with the previous owner and was unaware that when switching fuel tanks, it could take about 10 seconds for the new tank to pick up fuel. The pilot reported that he had never run a fuel tank empty and was not familiar with how the engine would respond, and how long it would take for fuel to return to the engine when another fuel tank was selected.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s improper use of the airplane’s fuel system, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.


Personnel issues Knowledge of equipment - Pilot
Aircraft Fuel - Fluid management
Environmental issues (general) - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

History of Flight

Initial climb Fuel starvation (Defining event)
Initial climb Loss of engine power (total)
Landing-flare/touchdown Off-field or emergency landing

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private 
Age: 43, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land 
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present:
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 3 With waivers/limitations 
Last FAA Medical Exam: November 22, 2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: September 14, 2020
Flight Time: 276.5 hours (Total, all aircraft), 225 hours (Total, this make and model), 276.5 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 24.6 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 8 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Vans 
Registration: N20YY
Model/Series: RV9 A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental (Special) 
Serial Number: 90778
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: May 11, 2021 Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection: 15 Hrs
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 971 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Continental Titan
ELT: Installed, not activated 
Engine Model/Series: X-361-A1A
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 185 Horsepower
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KDWU, 546 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 19 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 18:56 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 138°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 4 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:  /
Wind Direction: 280°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:  /
Altimeter Setting: 30 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 17°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Portsmouth, OH (KPMH) 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Destination: Flemingsburg, KY (KFGX)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 18:45 Local
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 38.791468,-83.014358 (est)

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