Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Fuel Exhaustion: Cessna 150L, N1718Q; accident occurred June 22, 2020 near Shelby-Cleveland County Regional Airport (KEHO), North Carolina

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charlotte, North Carolina

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: SHELBY, NC
Accident Number: ERA20CA226
Date & Time: 06/22/2020, 1240 EDT
Registration: N1718Q
Aircraft: Cessna 150
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


According to the pilot, he completed a preflight inspection of the airplane he had recently purchased and departed with full fuel tanks. During the flight, while receiving flight following services from air traffic control, he was requested to adjust his heading and was eventually routed back on course. When the airplane was about 3 miles from the destination airport, the engine "sputter[ed]." The pilot verified that the fuel shutoff was on, primed the engine, and pumped the throttle with little improvement from the engine. He noted that when the airplane was pitched down, the engine would "sputter," and when it was pitched up, the engine would run. He checked the fuel quantity, and the left fuel gauge indicated 1/8 usable fuel and the right tank indicated "almost" 1/4 usable fuel. The pilot decided the airplane would not be able to make the airport and located a field to perform a forced landing. During the accident sequence, the airplane experienced a hard landing and the engine mount and left wing were substantially damaged. After the airplane was recovered, the pilot drained the unbreached fuel tanks and 3 gallons were removed from the airplane. According to the airplane Pilot Operating Handbook, the airplane held 26 total gallons of fuel, of which 22.5 gallons were useable. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical anomalies with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation prior to the accident, however, the right fuel gauge was slightly incorrect.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's inadequate preflight and inflight fuel planning, which resulted in fuel exhaustion.


Aircraft Fuel - Not serviced/maintained
Personnel issues Knowledge of equipment - Pilot
Personnel issues Fuel planning - Pilot
Aircraft Fuel - Fluid level

Factual Information

History of Flight

Enroute-descent Fuel exhaustion (Defining event)
Landing-flare/touchdown Hard landing

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 55, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left 
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No 
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/17/2019
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/24/2019
Flight Time:  272 hours (Total, all aircraft), 120 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 11 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 11 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N1718Q
Model/Series:150 L 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Utility
Serial Number: 15073018
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/01/2019, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1601 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4261 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Continental 
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-200 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 100 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: EHO, 847 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 4 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1235 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 272°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:   10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR): 
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 300°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting:  30.04 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Greenville, NC (PGV) 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Shelby, NC (EHO)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1000 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class E 

Airport Information

Airport: Shelby-Cleveland County Rgnl (EHO)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 846 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Vegetation
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Precautionary Landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 35.254167, -81.525000

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