Friday, November 26, 2021

Fuel Starvation: Piper PA-28-181 Archer II, N46MD; accident occurred August 24, 2021 near Eagle County Regional Airport (KEGE), Gypsum, Colorado

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; Denver, Colorado

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

iTechnology Design Inc

Location: Gypsum, Colorado 
Accident Number: CEN21LA383
Date and Time: August 24, 2021, 09:33 Local 
Registration: N46MD
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-181
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel starvation 
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot reported that the airplane’s fuel tanks were filled to the tabs during the preflight. He then departed on about a two-hour local flight, which included touch and go landings. He added that he did a soft field technique, where he pulled up abruptly. The engine then ran rough, so he leveled off, and the engine regained power briefly, before going to idle rpm. He lowered the flaps for the forced landing. During the forced landing, the left wing separated from the airplane after impact with a fence post.

The pilot stated that he ran the fuel tank too low and when he pulled up during the takeoff, the remaining fuel was unable to reach the engine. He added that he “just ran the left tank too long without switching” fuel tanks.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A loss of engine power due to fuel starvation and the pilot's mismanagement of the available fuel.


Aircraft Fuel - Fluid management
Personnel issues Identification/recognition - Pilot

Factual Information

History of Flight

Takeoff Loss of engine power (partial)
Takeoff Fuel starvation (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 19
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: No
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: September 3, 2019
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: June 12, 2020
Flight Time: 70.2 hours (Total, all aircraft), 67.5 hours (Total, this make and model), 18.8 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 3.7 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2.3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N46MD
Model/Series: PA-28-181 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1976
Amateur Built:
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal 
Serial Number: 28-7790247
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: August 18, 2021 Annual 
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 9555 Hrs at time of accident 
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91A installed, not activated 
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A4M
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 180
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time: 
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:  /
Wind Direction: 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:  /
Altimeter Setting: 30.3 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 16°C / 2°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Gypsum, CO 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Gypsum, CO 
Type of Clearance: Unknown
Departure Time:
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Airport: Eagle County Regional EGE
Runway Surface Type:
Airport Elevation: 6547 ft msl 
Runway Surface Condition:
Runway Used:
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 39.623148,-106.93823 (est)

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