Saturday, February 13, 2010

Check your fuel tanks every time

A good preflight inspection includes looking at the fuel inside the fuel tanks and not just checking the gauges.

Pilot experience doesn't eliminate the simple mistakes that you might assume would only happen to new or careless pilots.

Read the following excerpt for the NTSB report and see if you can find the mistake.

Pilot Cert: Commercial; Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Instrument Ratings: Airplane
Medical Cert:Class I
Date of Last Med. Exam: 04/2009

Flight Time in Hours
Total: 3015
Total in accident make and model: 50

The commercial pilot was 500 feet above ground level on approach to his destination airport when the single-engine airplane lost power.

The pilot made a forced landing to a rain-soaked field
approximately 8 miles north of the runway.

On touchdown the nose gear sank into the muddy terrain and

According to the pilot the airplane had approximately 15 gallons of fuel on board upon departure.

An on-scene inspection of the fuel tanks indicated 2 1/2 gallons in the left tank and 1 gallon in the right tank.

The aircraft manual states 1 1/2 gallons of fuel is unusable in the tanks.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the firewall.

The pilot and passenger were not injured.

At this point there are no indications of a fuel leak or other reason for the lack of fuel except the failure of the pilot to complete the proper checks.

Aircraft fuel gauges are only required to show the correct quantity when the tanks are empty.

With this being the case, why would anybody fail to look in to the fuel tanks to verify the quantity?

Why would you plan a flight that didn't include ample reserves?

The answer could be very simple.

Some reasons:

Not using a check list

No ladder for a high wing aircraft

Lacking a
FuelHawk Universal Fuel Gauge


Feeling Rushed

Simply Forgot

Improper Flight Planning

Failure To Keep Track Of Winds Aloft

Failure to Apply Proper Safety Margins

The fact of the matter is that if you have 1 hour or 1000 hours of flight time matters little.

It will always be the simple things that we need to focus on so we don't allow ourselves to be hurt by things that are 100% avoidable.

Fly safe!

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