Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Piper PA-32R-300 Cherokee Lance, N4477F: Accident occurred September 19, 2016 near Grants-Milan Municipal Airport (KGNT), Grants, Cibola County, New Mexico

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Albuquerque, New Mexico 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms 

http://registry.faa.gov/N4477F

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA375
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 19, 2016 in Grants, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/20/2017
Aircraft: PIPER PA 32R-300, registration: N4477F
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

After a preflight inspection and engine run up that revealed no anomalies, the private pilot and two passengers were departing on a cross-country flight. The pilot stated that the airplane became airborne approximately 5,000 ft down the 7,172-ft-long runway at 80 knots. Approximately 100 feet above ground level, he heard a "gurgle" and the engine experienced a loss of power. The pilot verified that the fuel pump was on and the throttle was in its full-forward position. The pilot then located a forced landing site and during the landing, the airplane impacted a tree. The occupants egressed, and the airplane was subsequently consumed by postcrash fire. The accident airport was located at an elevation about 6,500 ft mean sea level (msl). Given the atmospheric conditions at the time of the accident, the density altitude exceeded 9,000 ft msl, which would have significantly increased the airplane's takeoff distance and reduced its climb capability. The pilot's experience operating in high density altitude environments could not be determined. Review of photos from the accident site revealed that the fuel selector handle appeared to be located between the left fuel tank and off positions; however, the fuel selector was not examined and its position could not be verified, therefore, the reason for the reported loss of engine power could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined based on the available information.

On September 19, 2016, about 1700 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA 32R-300 airplane, N4477F, impacted a tree and terrain during a forced landing near Grants, New Mexico. A ground fire subsequently occurred. The pilot and two passengers were uninjured. The airplane was destroyed during the impact and ground fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which did not operate on a flight plan. The flight was originating from the Grants-Milan Municipal Airport (GNT), near Grants, New Mexico, at the time of the accident and was destined for the Cedar City Regional Airport, near Cedar City, Utah.

According to the pilot's accident report, the pilot performed a pre-flight inspection. He taxied to the run-up area for runway 31 and conducted the before takeoff checklist. He taxied the airplane to the beginning of the runway and set the throttle to full power. The roll-out and acceleration was considered to be normal. The airplane lifted off approximately 5,000 feet down the runway at 80 knots. Approximately 100 feet above ground level and about two 2 seconds after lift-off, he heard a "gurgle" and the airplane lost engine power. The pilot verified that the fuel pump was on and the throttle was in its full position. He turned the airplane about 20 degrees to the left and determined the airplane would not be able to return to the airport at its altitude at the time. The pilot located a landing site and he landed the airplane in between two trees. During the landing roll, the airplane turned to the left and headed for a tree. He was unable to correct the heading with applied right rudder. The airplane impacted a tree and the airplane caught on fire. The pilot and passengers exited airplane and ran away from fire.

N4477F was a 1976 model Piper PA-32R-301 airplane with serial number 32R-7680449. The airplane was a low-wing, all-metal, single-engine, six-place monoplane. It had a retractable tricycle landing gear configuration, and was powered by a fuel injected, six-cylinder, Lycoming IO-540 engine with serial number L-15137-48A, which drove a Hartzell variable-pitch propeller.

At 1655, the recorded weather at GNT was: Wind calm; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 30 degrees C; dew point -13; altimeter 30.28 inches of mercury. The local temperature and dew point were not in the range conducive to carburetor icing.

GNT was a public, non-towered airport, which was owned by the City of Grants, New Mexico. It was located about three miles northwest of Grants, New Mexico. The airport had a surveyed elevation of 6,536.9 feet above mean sea level. The airport's runway 13/31 was 7,172 feet by 40 feet with an asphalt surface.

A Federal Aviation Administration Air Safety Inspector examined the wreckage. The Inspector, in part, indicated that the airplane was badly damaged by fire. However, the fuel selector handle was not in the "full on" position for selecting a fuel tank. An image of the fuel selector valve showed it was found selecting a position by the left tank position and the off position.

The Piper service manual, in part, stated:

8-18. FUEL SELECTOR VALVE OPERATION.
When the fuel selector handle is not in a positive selector detent
position, more than one fuel port will be open at the same time. It
should be ascertained that the fuel selector is positioned in a detent,
which can be easily felt when moving the handle through its various
positions.

Piper Service Bulletin (SB) 772, in part, stated:

PURPOSE: It has been determined that certain Cameron l-H65-3
Fuel Selector Valves (Piper Part Number 69735-0SV) may exhibit
excessive freeplay between the valve shaft and arm.

If this condition exists and is left uncorrected, the indicated selector
valve position may not correspond with the actual position of the
selector valve, resulting in partial or restricted fuel flow through the
valve ports, and possible loss of power.

...

INSTRUCTIONS:
During Each Preflight:
1. Move the Fuel Selector Control into each of its three positions -Off,
Left, and Right - to insure that a positive detent is present at each of
the three positions.
2. If positive detent is not exhibited at any of the three positions, the
Fuel Selector Valve must be replaced before further flight.

The installed version of the fuel selector valve could not be determined due to the fire damage it sustained.

The Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) current at the time of the accident, in part, stated:

ENGINE POWER LOSS DURING TAKEOFF
If sufficient runway remains for a normal landing,
leave gear down and land straight ahead.

If area ahead is rough, or if it is necessary to clear
obstructions:
Gear selector switch..................................................UP
Emergency gear lever (on aircraft equipped with backup
gear extender).locked in OVERRIDE ENGAGED position

If sufficient altitude has been gained to attempt a restart:
Maintain safe airspeed.
Fuel selector.................. switch to tank containing fuel
Electric fuel pump....................................................ON
Mixture................................................................. RICH
Alternate air........................................................ OPEN
Emergency gear lever.................................. as required
If power is not regained, proceed with power off
landing.

The POH did not amplify or caution the pilot of the importance of ensuring the fuel selector is in a positive detent on a fuel tank selection position to the extent that the maintenance manual and SB explained it.

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA375
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 19, 2016 in Grants, NM
Aircraft: PIPER PA 32R-300, registration: N4477F
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 19, 2016, about 1700 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA 32R-300 airplane, N4477F, impacted a tree and terrain during a forced landing near Grants, New Mexico. A ground fire subsequently occurred. The pilot and two passengers were uninjured. The airplane was destroyed during the impact and ground fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which did not operate on a flight plan. The flight was originating from the Grants-Milan Municipal Airport (GNT), near Grants, New Mexico, at the time of the accident and was destined for the Cedar City Regional Airport, near Cedar City, Utah.

According to preliminary information, the pilot performed a pre-flight inspection. He taxied to run-up area for runway 31 and conducted the before takeoff checklist. He taxied the airplane to the beginning of the runway and set the throttle to full power. The roll-out and acceleration was considered to be normal. He lifted off approximately 5,000 feet down the runway at 80 knots. Approximately 100 feet above ground level and about two 2 seconds after lift-off, he heard a "gurgle" and the airplane lost engine power. The pilot verified that the fuel pump on and the throttle was in its full position. He turned the airplane about 20 degrees to the left and determined the airplane would not be able to return to the airport at its altitude at the time. The pilot located a landing site and he landed the airplane in between two trees. During the landing roll, the airplane turned to the left and headed for a tree. He was unable to correct the heading with applied right rudder, the airplane impacted a tree, and the airplane caught on fire. The pilot and passengers exited airplane and ran away from fire.

N4477F was a 1976 model Piper PA-32R-301 airplane with serial number 32R-7680449. The airplane was a low-wing, all-metal, single-engine, six-place monoplane. It had a retractable tricycle landing gear configuration, and was powered by a fuel injected, six-cylinder, Lycoming IO-540 engine, which drove a Hartzell variable-pitch propeller.

At 1655, the recorded weather at GNT was: Wind calm; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 30 degrees C; dew point -13; altimeter 30.28 inches of mercury.



CIBOLA COUNTY – Late afternoon on Monday, a 1976 Piper PA-32R-300 single engine plane suddenly came down shortly after take off from the Grants/Milan Airport behind the federal prison (CCA or Four Cs) in Milan in Milan causing it to catch fire which caused a small grass fire.

According to officials, pilot and owner of the plane, Michael Clark, and two passengers were flying to Utah and needed to stop in Grants for fuel and food. “Upon take off,” Sheriff Tony Mace said, “the plane would not gain altitude and the engine was sputtering.”

While Clark was attempting to land the plane in a field, it appears the plane’s wing clipped a tree causing it to spin sideways and eventually catching fire, Mace said.

The plane and everything in it eventually burned, which also caused the grass under and a small area around the plane to burn, including a few shrubs. 
Emergency personnel were able to immediately assist the three persons and the plane and stop the small fire.

Amazingly, Clark and his two passengers were able to walk away from the crash site with no injuries.

According to Mace, on Tuesday the FAA was in the area to investigate the crash.

Clark is from Texas and his passengers were from Oklahoma.

Source:  http://www.cibolabeacon.com

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