Accident Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II N81291,
ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 172646
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:Friday 2 January 2015
Type:Silhouette image of generic PA34 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II
Registration: N81291
MSN: 34-8070037
Year of manufacture:1979
Total airframe hrs:7573 hours
Engine model:Continental TSIO-360 SER
Fatalities:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 5
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Kuttawa, KY -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Tallahassee International Airport, FL (KTLH)
Destination airport:Vernon Outland Airport, IL (KMVN)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The commercial pilot departed on a cross-country flight in night instrument meteorological conditions with the airplane’s fuel tanks full, providing an estimated fuel endurance of 4 hours 50 minutes. Two hours 50 minutes into the flight, the pilot reported a loss of engine power on the right engine, which was followed by a loss of engine power on the left engine. The pilot attempted to land at a nearby airport; however, the airplane impacted trees about 8 miles short of the airport. A review of weather information revealed no evidence of in-flight icing or other weather conditions that may have contributed to the accident. Postaccident examination of the airframe and engines revealed no preimpact failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. All fuel tanks were compromised; however, an undetermined amount of fuel spilled from the left fuel tank during recovery of the wreckage. The left engine fuel selector valve was found in the “X-FEED” (crossfeed) position, and the corresponding cockpit fuel selector switch was found in an intermediate position, which was likely the result of impact damage. The right engine fuel selector valve and the corresponding cockpit fuel selector switch were found in the “ON” position. With the valves in these positions, both the left and right engines would have consumed fuel from the right fuel tank. Review of performance charts and fueling records indicated that if the flight was conducted with the valves in the as-found positions, exhaustion of the fuel in the airplane’s right fuel tank would have occurred about the time the pilot reported the dual engine failure. In addition, the yaw trim was found in the full nose-right position. It is possible that the pilot used nose-right yaw trim to counteract an increasing left-turning tendency during the flight as fuel was burned from only the right wing’s fuel tank making it relatively lighter than the left wing. According to the expanded checklist in the pilot’s operating handbook for the airplane, during taxi, the pilot was to move each fuel selector to “X-FEED” for a short time, while the other selector was in the “ON” position, before returning both fuel selectors to the “ON” position before takeoff. According to a checklist found in the airplane, the fuel selectors were to be set to “X-FEED” during taxi and then to “ON” during engine run up. GPS data recovered from onboard devices indicated that the pilot taxied from the ramp and onto the active runway without stopping in about 3 minutes, indicating that it is unlikely he performed a complete run up of both engines before takeoff. He likely failed to return the left engine fuel selector from the “X-FEED” to the “ON” position, where it remained throughout the flight and resulted in fuel starvation and a loss of engine power on both engines. Toxicological testing revealed that the pilot was taking citalopram (an antidepressant) and rosuvastatin (a statin); however, it is unlikely these drugs contributed to the accident. Review of medical and pathological information revealed no evidence of any medical condition that may have contributed to the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows: The pilot's failure to properly set the left engine fuel selector before takeoff and to recognize the incorrect setting during the flight, which resulted in fuel starvation and a loss of engine power on both engines.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ERA15FA088
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report




Photo(c): NTSB

Revision history:

03-Jan-2015 05:52 Geno Added
03-Jan-2015 12:41 Aerossurance Updated [Operator, Nature, Source, Damage, Narrative]
03-Jan-2015 14:49 MarkStep Updated [Source]
05-Jan-2015 14:29 Aerossurance Updated [Source]
23-Jan-2015 22:50 Geno Updated [Time, Location, Phase, Source]
02-Apr-2015 09:36 Anon. Updated [Time]
17-Dec-2016 13:57 Aerossurance Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:28 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
06-Mar-2022 16:47 Captain Adam Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative, Photo]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314