|37000 Feet||Browse and search NASA's
Aviation Safety Reporting System
|Local Time Of Day||1201 To 1800|
|Locale Reference||airport : zzz.airport|
|Altitude||msl single value : 700|
|Controlling Facilities||tower : zzz.tower|
|Operator||general aviation : personal|
|Make Model Name||Cheetah|
|Operating Under FAR Part||Part 91|
|Flight Phase||climbout : intermediate altitude|
|Route In Use||approach : traffic pattern|
|Function||flight crew : single pilot|
|Qualification||pilot : student|
|Experience||flight time last 90 days : 1036|
flight time total : 57.3
flight time type : 57.3
|Anomaly||non adherence : published procedure|
non adherence : company policies
other anomaly other
|Independent Detector||other flight crewa|
|Resolutory Action||flight crew : landed in emergency condition|
|Problem Areas||Environmental Factor|
Flight Crew Human Performance
|Primary Problem||Flight Crew Human Performance|
On the date of the event; I had planned to complete a solo cross country to the east of my home airport; ZZZ. However; because of low ceiling in the area of my destination; and upon consultation with my instructor; we decided it would be best to not do the cross country on that day. However; given that I already had the aircraft booked for my use during the afternoon; and the WX at ZZZ was VMC; my instructor and I agreed it would be appropriate for me to perform some solo local flts -- including pattern work at ZZZ and 2 nearby airports; both of which I had flown to multiple times and was comfortable flying to; and were only a short distance away. During my preflight; I inspected the fuel tanks on both the left and the right wings. They appeared lower than I expected them to be; and were not up to the brim of the tank. I retrieved the logbook for the aircraft to determine who flew the aircraft last; and when; found the last person to have flown it was 4 days prior. I walked over to the FBO office; and asked the receptionist to clarify that they had indeed fueled the aircraft on that date. The receptionist; upon checking the logs; did say they fueled the aircraft on that day for the person who had last flown it. I then decided to call my instructor to ask for his opinion. He pointed out that fuel expands/contracts under different temperatures. In the preceding days; temperatures had been warmer than usual for winter; and today it was colder with occasional drizzling. I finally decided that; in my judgement; the fuel levels in both tanks were most likely a result of the atmospheric changes; and would not need to be filled up right to the point they were almost spilling over the top onto the wing. On start-up; I used the left tank; and allowed it to burn for a few mins while I awaited my taxi instructions from the ground controller. As I began taxiing; I switched to the right tank. On takeoff; I flew approximately 5 touch-and-goes on runway xx at ZZZ before deciding to proceed northbound to ZZZ1 (which is about 17 NM north of ZZZ). I performed approximately 5 touch-and-goes at ZZZ1; using runway 36; and decided to proceed to ZZZ2 (southeast approximately the same distance). At this point; I was still using fuel from the right tank. On leaving ZZZ1; I contemplated switching tanks; as I had been burning the right tank almost the entire duration the engine was running. However; I had already left the ZZZ1 class D airspace; and did not feel it would be wise to switch tanks unless I was closer to an airport. About 9 NM from ZZZ2; I contacted the tower control to establish 2-WAY communications; and advised him I planned to do several touch-and-goes. He gave me instructions to do so; however; I decided instead to proceed back to ZZZ. There were some dark cloud fronts moving in from the west; heading eastbound; and I decided it would be best to return to ZZZ and simply do pattern work there; rather than doing so in ZZZ2 and possibly risk being stuck if poor WX moved in. Once back at ZZZ; I switched to the left tank; once I was within a safe distance of the airport. I performed touch-and-goes at ZZZ for what I estimate was at least 1.5 hours. There were also several other aircraft departing or arriving; and at times I had to extend my downwind; perform 360 degree turns or s-turns; to allow for separation. I did not switch back to my right tank; as I felt the previous portion of my flight had been long enough and the tank was possibly near empty. Also; the fuel gauge was reading 'east' for empty. Although I realized the fuel gauges were notoriously faulty; I did not want to put my aircraft in a compromising situation by switching back to that tank; because if it was in fact empty; the engine would shut down. I still believed I had enough fuel in the left tank to continue my pattern work. At approximately XA15; I was preparing to make my final touch-and-go; and return to the ramp; as daylight remaining in the day was near end. On my turn from my crosswind leg to downwind leg; climbing through approximately 700 ft MSL; my engine ceased operation. I immediately advised the tower I had an engine failure; and requested immediate landing on runway xy; which was the best runway for me to returnto soonest. The tower controller cleared me to land; and instructed another aircraft on final for runway xx to go around (right side). Given my extremely close proximity to runway xy (less than 1/2 mi from the runway); I 'slipped' the aircraft down to the threshold; and landed it safely. I was unable to make the turnoff onto the taxiway; and advised the tower controller I was not declaring an emergency. Upon inspection of my fuel tanks; I discovered the left fuel tank was empty; and the right fuel tank had a small amount of fuel left. I started the engine using the right fuel tank and taxied off the runway and to the ramp. I realize I was tremendously fortunate to have been in the position I was; and to have had access to runway xy in such short time. Several fellow pilots commended my response in dealing with the emergency and landing; and keeping a 'cool head' during the crisis. However; I also realize the misjudgement during my preflight; in determining if an appropriate amount of fuel was available for my flight. I have taken this event to be an extreme lesson that fuel management is one of the most critical aspects to flight safety; and there is no room for error in judgement.
Original NASA ASRS Text
Title: AN AA5 PILOT FAILED TO PREFLT FUEL QTY FULLY AND RAN ONE FUEL TANK DRY IN THE LNDG PATTERN. ACFT LANDED ON AN INTERSECTING RWY.
Narrative: ON THE DATE OF THE EVENT; I HAD PLANNED TO COMPLETE A SOLO XCOUNTRY TO THE E OF MY HOME ARPT; ZZZ. HOWEVER; BECAUSE OF LOW CEILING IN THE AREA OF MY DEST; AND UPON CONSULTATION WITH MY INSTRUCTOR; WE DECIDED IT WOULD BE BEST TO NOT DO THE XCOUNTRY ON THAT DAY. HOWEVER; GIVEN THAT I ALREADY HAD THE ACFT BOOKED FOR MY USE DURING THE AFTERNOON; AND THE WX AT ZZZ WAS VMC; MY INSTRUCTOR AND I AGREED IT WOULD BE APPROPRIATE FOR ME TO PERFORM SOME SOLO LCL FLTS -- INCLUDING PATTERN WORK AT ZZZ AND 2 NEARBY ARPTS; BOTH OF WHICH I HAD FLOWN TO MULTIPLE TIMES AND WAS COMFORTABLE FLYING TO; AND WERE ONLY A SHORT DISTANCE AWAY. DURING MY PREFLT; I INSPECTED THE FUEL TANKS ON BOTH THE L AND THE R WINGS. THEY APPEARED LOWER THAN I EXPECTED THEM TO BE; AND WERE NOT UP TO THE BRIM OF THE TANK. I RETRIEVED THE LOGBOOK FOR THE ACFT TO DETERMINE WHO FLEW THE ACFT LAST; AND WHEN; FOUND THE LAST PERSON TO HAVE FLOWN IT WAS 4 DAYS PRIOR. I WALKED OVER TO THE FBO OFFICE; AND ASKED THE RECEPTIONIST TO CLARIFY THAT THEY HAD INDEED FUELED THE ACFT ON THAT DATE. THE RECEPTIONIST; UPON CHKING THE LOGS; DID SAY THEY FUELED THE ACFT ON THAT DAY FOR THE PERSON WHO HAD LAST FLOWN IT. I THEN DECIDED TO CALL MY INSTRUCTOR TO ASK FOR HIS OPINION. HE POINTED OUT THAT FUEL EXPANDS/CONTRACTS UNDER DIFFERENT TEMPS. IN THE PRECEDING DAYS; TEMPS HAD BEEN WARMER THAN USUAL FOR WINTER; AND TODAY IT WAS COLDER WITH OCCASIONAL DRIZZLING. I FINALLY DECIDED THAT; IN MY JUDGEMENT; THE FUEL LEVELS IN BOTH TANKS WERE MOST LIKELY A RESULT OF THE ATMOSPHERIC CHANGES; AND WOULD NOT NEED TO BE FILLED UP RIGHT TO THE POINT THEY WERE ALMOST SPILLING OVER THE TOP ONTO THE WING. ON START-UP; I USED THE L TANK; AND ALLOWED IT TO BURN FOR A FEW MINS WHILE I AWAITED MY TAXI INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE GND CTLR. AS I BEGAN TAXIING; I SWITCHED TO THE R TANK. ON TKOF; I FLEW APPROX 5 TOUCH-AND-GOES ON RWY XX AT ZZZ BEFORE DECIDING TO PROCEED NBOUND TO ZZZ1 (WHICH IS ABOUT 17 NM N OF ZZZ). I PERFORMED APPROX 5 TOUCH-AND-GOES AT ZZZ1; USING RWY 36; AND DECIDED TO PROCEED TO ZZZ2 (SE APPROX THE SAME DISTANCE). AT THIS POINT; I WAS STILL USING FUEL FROM THE R TANK. ON LEAVING ZZZ1; I CONTEMPLATED SWITCHING TANKS; AS I HAD BEEN BURNING THE R TANK ALMOST THE ENTIRE DURATION THE ENG WAS RUNNING. HOWEVER; I HAD ALREADY LEFT THE ZZZ1 CLASS D AIRSPACE; AND DID NOT FEEL IT WOULD BE WISE TO SWITCH TANKS UNLESS I WAS CLOSER TO AN ARPT. ABOUT 9 NM FROM ZZZ2; I CONTACTED THE TWR CTL TO ESTABLISH 2-WAY COMS; AND ADVISED HIM I PLANNED TO DO SEVERAL TOUCH-AND-GOES. HE GAVE ME INSTRUCTIONS TO DO SO; HOWEVER; I DECIDED INSTEAD TO PROCEED BACK TO ZZZ. THERE WERE SOME DARK CLOUD FRONTS MOVING IN FROM THE W; HDG EBOUND; AND I DECIDED IT WOULD BE BEST TO RETURN TO ZZZ AND SIMPLY DO PATTERN WORK THERE; RATHER THAN DOING SO IN ZZZ2 AND POSSIBLY RISK BEING STUCK IF POOR WX MOVED IN. ONCE BACK AT ZZZ; I SWITCHED TO THE L TANK; ONCE I WAS WITHIN A SAFE DISTANCE OF THE ARPT. I PERFORMED TOUCH-AND-GOES AT ZZZ FOR WHAT I ESTIMATE WAS AT LEAST 1.5 HRS. THERE WERE ALSO SEVERAL OTHER ACFT DEPARTING OR ARRIVING; AND AT TIMES I HAD TO EXTEND MY DOWNWIND; PERFORM 360 DEG TURNS OR S-TURNS; TO ALLOW FOR SEPARATION. I DID NOT SWITCH BACK TO MY R TANK; AS I FELT THE PREVIOUS PORTION OF MY FLT HAD BEEN LONG ENOUGH AND THE TANK WAS POSSIBLY NEAR EMPTY. ALSO; THE FUEL GAUGE WAS READING 'E' FOR EMPTY. ALTHOUGH I REALIZED THE FUEL GAUGES WERE NOTORIOUSLY FAULTY; I DID NOT WANT TO PUT MY ACFT IN A COMPROMISING SITUATION BY SWITCHING BACK TO THAT TANK; BECAUSE IF IT WAS IN FACT EMPTY; THE ENG WOULD SHUT DOWN. I STILL BELIEVED I HAD ENOUGH FUEL IN THE L TANK TO CONTINUE MY PATTERN WORK. AT APPROX XA15; I WAS PREPARING TO MAKE MY FINAL TOUCH-AND-GO; AND RETURN TO THE RAMP; AS DAYLIGHT REMAINING IN THE DAY WAS NEAR END. ON MY TURN FROM MY XWIND LEG TO DOWNWIND LEG; CLBING THROUGH APPROX 700 FT MSL; MY ENG CEASED OP. I IMMEDIATELY ADVISED THE TWR I HAD AN ENG FAILURE; AND REQUESTED IMMEDIATE LNDG ON RWY XY; WHICH WAS THE BEST RWY FOR ME TO RETURNTO SOONEST. THE TWR CTLR CLRED ME TO LAND; AND INSTRUCTED ANOTHER ACFT ON FINAL FOR RWY XX TO GO AROUND (R SIDE). GIVEN MY EXTREMELY CLOSE PROX TO RWY XY (LESS THAN 1/2 MI FROM THE RWY); I 'SLIPPED' THE ACFT DOWN TO THE THRESHOLD; AND LANDED IT SAFELY. I WAS UNABLE TO MAKE THE TURNOFF ONTO THE TXWY; AND ADVISED THE TWR CTLR I WAS NOT DECLARING AN EMER. UPON INSPECTION OF MY FUEL TANKS; I DISCOVERED THE L FUEL TANK WAS EMPTY; AND THE R FUEL TANK HAD A SMALL AMOUNT OF FUEL LEFT. I STARTED THE ENG USING THE R FUEL TANK AND TAXIED OFF THE RWY AND TO THE RAMP. I REALIZE I WAS TREMENDOUSLY FORTUNATE TO HAVE BEEN IN THE POS I WAS; AND TO HAVE HAD ACCESS TO RWY XY IN SUCH SHORT TIME. SEVERAL FELLOW PLTS COMMENDED MY RESPONSE IN DEALING WITH THE EMER AND LNDG; AND KEEPING A 'COOL HEAD' DURING THE CRISIS. HOWEVER; I ALSO REALIZE THE MISJUDGEMENT DURING MY PREFLT; IN DETERMINING IF AN APPROPRIATE AMOUNT OF FUEL WAS AVAILABLE FOR MY FLT. I HAVE TAKEN THIS EVENT TO BE AN EXTREME LESSON THAT FUEL MGMNT IS ONE OF THE MOST CRITICAL ASPECTS TO FLT SAFETY; AND THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ERROR IN JUDGEMENT.
Data retrieved from NASA's ASRS site as of May 2009 and automatically converted to unabbreviated mixed upper/lowercase text. This report is for informational purposes with no guarantee of accuracy. See NASA's ASRS site for official report.