Saturday, September 04, 2021

Fuel Starvation: Piper PA-25-235 Pawnee B, N7366Z; accident occurred September 10, 2020 in Destin, Okaloosa County, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aerial Banners North Inc

Location: Destin, Florida 
Accident Number: ERA20CA317
Date & Time: September 10, 2020, 14:30 Local
Registration: N7366Z
Aircraft: Piper PA25 Aircraft
Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel starvation 
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Banner tow


The pilot was conducting a routine banner tow flight in an airplane equipped with a main fuel tank as well as an auxiliary fuel tank that transferred fuel to the main fuel tank via a manually activated fuel pump. The pilot was distracted due to the air traffic control and the volume of air traffic in the area, and stated that he did not activate the auxiliary fuel tank transfer pump at the turnaround point where he typically would have during other banner tow flights. After about 3 hours of flight time, the engine lost power. The pilot was unsuccessful in his attempts to restart the engine, which included activating the fuel transfer pump during the descent. He subsequently ditched the airplane into the Gulf of Mexico, during which both of the airplane’s wings were substantially damaged.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to manage the available fuel supply which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power.


Personnel issues Use of equip/system - Pilot
Aircraft Fuel - Fluid management

Factual Information

History of Flight

Enroute-cruise Fuel starvation (Defining event)
Emergency descent Ditching

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial 
Age: 36, Male
Airplane Rating(s): 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 2 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: February 11, 2020
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: October 11, 2019
Flight Time: 624.4 hours (Total, all aircraft), 273.7 hours (Total, this make and model), 182.5 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:
Piper Registration: N7366Z
Model/Series: PA25 235 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1965 
Amateur Built:
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal 
Serial Number: 25-3320
Landing Gear Type:
Tailwheel Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: July 22, 2020 100 hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 8012.52 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-540-B2B5
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 235 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: DTS,22 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time: 
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2000 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.06 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 23°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Panama City, FL (ECP)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Panama City, FL (ECP)
Type of Clearance: VFR flight following
Departure Time: 11:35 Local 
Type of Airspace: Unknown

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 30.394721,-86.470275(est)

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