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N4683B accident description

Oregon map... Oregon list
Crash location 44.835555°N, 117.798333°W
Nearest city Baker City, OR
44.774875°N, 117.834385°W
4.5 miles away
Tail number N4683B
Accident date 09 Jul 2017
Aircraft type Cessna 180
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 9, 2017, about 0630 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 180 airplane, N4683B, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Baker City Municipal Airport (BKE), Baker City, Oregon. The commercial pilot and passenger were not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal cross country flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Johnson Creek Airstrip (3U2), Yellow Pine, Idaho, about 0630 mountain daylight time and was destined for Red Bluff Municipal Airport (RBL), Red Bluff, California; BKE was a planned en route refueling stop.

In a report submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot reported that two days prior to the accident he and his passenger flew from Grants Pass, Oregon, to 3U2. The pilot stated that en route to 3U2 he stopped in McCall, Idaho, where he observed that the fuel totalizer read 30 gallons. He then added 26 gallons of fuel, which to his calculation indicated that he had 56 gallons of fuel on board, and set the totalizer to 50 gallons to allow for the unusable fuel; he subsequently made the 26-minute flight to 3U2. The pilot reported that the following morning, he flew to various airstrips in the backcountry, logging 1.6 [hours] tach time; the pilot stated that the fuel totalizer read 26.5 gallons when he landed at 3U2.

The next morning the pilot stated that he and his passenger departed 3U2 for the 97 nautical mile (nm) flight to BKE. About 45 minutes into the flight, at an altitude of 3,000 ft above ground level and 5 nm east of BKE, and while setting up for a left downwind for runway 17, the engine lost power. The pilot stated that he then set up for a straight-in approach to runway 26, checked that the fuel selector was on BOTH, and surmised that the airplane was out of fuel. Initially thinking that he could easily make the runway, the pilot did not consider an alternate landing spot. Subsequently, when it became apparent that he was not going to make the runway, the pilot was forced to land in a hay field with irrigation ditches in his path. After having touched down the airplane dropped into a ditch and was substantially damaged; the airplane came to rest upright about 200 yards east of runway 26. The pilot mentioned that at the time of the accident the fuel totalizer indicated 14 gallons; however, it appeared the airplane was out of fuel. The pilot also commented in his statement that there had been talk of the Monarch Fuel Caps, which were installed on the accident airplane, that if they were not installed correctly with the chain and ball, that fuel will vent overboard. The pilot concluded by saying, "Ultimately, I am responsible for how much fuel is in the tanks, but I can't help thinking that there were contributing factors."

In a report submitted to the NTSB IIC, a Federal Aviation Administration operations inspector assigned to the Boise Flight Standards District Office, Boise Idaho, responded to the accident site. The inspector reported that the pilot admitted to him that he had run out of fuel after he asked the pilot if he could see the data card from the Garmin 530. The inspector further reported that when he asked the pilot what the fuel gauges were reading just before the engine failure, the pilot replied that the right [gauge] was in the red and that the left gauge read 3/8. The inspector also reported that during his onsite inspection of the airplane, he did not observe any fuel streaking stains on the top of either fuel tank. Additionally, the inspector reported that when recovery personnel drained fuel from both tanks, well under a gallon was drained from the left fuel tank, and under 5 gallons from the right fuel tank.

The pilot reported no mechanical anomalies with the airplane or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

NTSB Probable Cause

The loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion, which resulted from the pilot's inadequate preflight fuel planning.

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