Friday, December 31, 2021

Fuel Exhaustion: Cessna 152, N68851; accident occurred June 17, 2021 in Bridgeport, Wise County, Texas

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; Irving, Texas

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:
Location: Bridgeport, Texas
Accident Number: CEN21LA278
Date and Time: June 17, 2021, 09:10 Local
Registration: N68851
Aircraft: Cessna 152 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The private pilot reported the airplane had fuel exhaustion during cruise flight that resulted in a total loss of engine power and a forced landing in a field. The airplane touched down on the main landing gear and the pilot was able to keep the nose landing gear off the ground until the airplane traversed through a low area in the field, which caused the airplane to pitch down and the nose landing gear to collapse when it impacted the ground. The left wing rear spar was substantially damaged during the forced landing. The pilot did not report any mechanical malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The pilot reported that he visually inspected the airplane’s two 13-gallon fuel tanks before the flight and had estimated that each fuel tank was about ¾ full (about 19.5 gallons total). He did not utilize a calibrated dipstick to measure the actual fuel remaining in either fuel tank. According to flight track data, the loss of engine power occurred about 1 hour 25 minutes into the flight. The pilot stated that his inaccurate estimation of the fuel level before the flight had resulted in fuel exhaustion during cruise flight and a total loss of engine power.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s inaccurate estimate of the fuel level during his preflight inspection, which resulted in fuel exhaustion during cruise flight and a total loss of engine power.


Aircraft Fuel - Fluid level
Personnel issues Preflight inspection - Pilot
Personnel issues Fuel planning - Pilot
Environmental issues Rough terrain - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

History of Flight

Enroute-cruise Fuel exhaustion (Defining event)
Enroute-cruise Off-field or emergency landing

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private 
Age: 19,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None 
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: None, None
Last FAA Medical Exam: June 3, 2019
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: August 7, 2020
Flight Time: 162.2 hours (Total, all aircraft), 58.7 hours (Total, this make and model), 29.9 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 2.2 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N68851
Model/Series: 152
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1981 
Amateur Built:
Airworthiness Certificate: Utility 
Serial Number: 15285340
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle 
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: April 15, 2021 Annual 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1670 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 42.8 Hrs
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 19740.5 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-235-L2C
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 118 Horsepower
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KXBP, 851 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 09:15 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 22°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.07 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 21°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Fort Worth, TX (AFW)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Bridgeport, TX
Type of Clearance: VFR flight following
Departure Time: 07:45 Local 
Type of Airspace: Class E

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: 33.09,-97.87 (est)

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