Final Report: King Air Ran Out of Fuel

 - October 17, 2006, 4:53 AM

Raytheon Beech B200 King Air, Tulsa, Okla., Dec. 8, 2004–After the right engine of King Air N6PE began to “sputter” on approach to Tulsa International Airport, approximately six miles from the runway, the engine quit. The 2,100-hour pilot “looked over at the fuel gauges and both tanks were showing empty.” Moments later, the left engine quit. The auto-ignition system failed to restart the engines, and the pilot feathered both propellers and declared an emergency.

Watching his GPS moving map, he “knew that he was not going to make it to the runway.” He landed on a street, and the right wing struck a telephone pole, substantially damaging the airplane. The fuel transfer switch was found in the right crossfeed position. Three-quarters of a gallon of unusable fuel was found in the right engine nacelle and four gallons (28 pounds) of usable fuel was found in the left. No leaks or anomalies were found in the fuel system.

The NTSB blamed the accident on the loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion because of the pilot’s inadequate preflight and in-flight planning/preparation.

The private pilot, who was instrument-rated, said that before he departed for the 507-nm night flight from La Crosse, Wis., the fuel gauges indicated approximately 800 pounds of fuel on each side, for a total of 1,600 pounds; however, he admitted he did not visually check the amount of fuel.

The pilot thought the Hartzell/Raisbeck quiet turbofan propeller modification would decrease fuel consumption. The Pilot’s Operating Handbook, however,  states that “an error of 3 percent maximum may be encountered” in the fuel gauging system. Post-accident calculations showed that at 565 pounds per hour for two hours and eight minutes, fuel consumption would have been 1,205.33 pounds during cruise flight, plus 285 pounds for start, taxi, takeoff and climb to 28,000 feet. Night VMC prevailed, and an IFR flight plan was filed for the business flight.