Friday, January 27, 2017

Piper PA-32R-300, B&B Investment, N6885F: Accident occurred January 26, 2017 in Fort Mohave, Arizona

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration - Flight Standards District Office; Las Vegas, Nevada

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:

B&B Investment:

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA126
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, January 26, 2017 in Fort Mohave, AZ
Aircraft: PIPER PA32R, registration: N6885F
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that during the initial climb he retracted the landing gear normally and then "a few minutes later the radios went blank." The pilot further reported that he believed he had a radio problem, so he decided to return to the airport. During the return, the pilot reported that he moved the landing gear selector to the down position, but the three gear down indicator lights did not illuminate. Subsequently, the pilot reported that he circled a few miles east of the airport to troubleshoot the issue.

During the circling, the pilot reported that he "cycled the master switch and the radio master a couple times with no results." The pilot further reported that the airplane was equipped with an "automatic gear extension system," so he verified that the override switch was not engaged, fully extended the flaps, and slowed the airplane to 85 knots. Subsequently, the pilot believed the landing gear was down, so he returned to the airport for landing. During touchdown, the left main landing gear and nose gear collapsed (or were not extended) and the airplane veered off the runway into dirt, which resulted in substantial damage to the left wing. During a postaccident interview, the pilot reported that he believed he had "a total electrical failure."

According to a witness who owns a house on the airport property, he observed the airplane depart and about 5 minutes later saw that the airplane had returned for landing. The witness reported that the airplane's landing gear were retracted until the point at which the pilot began the landing flare over the runway. The witness further reported, when the airplane was about 5 feet above the runway, each landing gear began to extend, but the airplane touched down before the nose gear and left main landing gear could extend fully. 

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation Safety Inspector (ASI) who arrived at the accident site about two to three hours after the event, when he "switched the master switch on," he observed electrical equipment turn on and heard the landing gear extension motor running. During a subsequent postaccident examination, the FAA ASI reported that he found no abnormalities with the electrical system. He also extended the landing gear to the down and locked position with the electric/ hydraulic system and observed three green indicator lights illuminated. 

According to the Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) for the accident airplane, a "pressure sensing device" in the landing gear system will lower the gear "regardless of the gear selection position," pending that the override switch is not engaged. The POH further stated in part: "The gear is designed to extend at airspeeds below approximately 103 KIAS [Knots Indicated Airspeed] with power off even if the selector is in the up position. The extension speeds will vary from approximately 81 KTS [Knots] to approximately 103 KIAS depending on power settings and altitude."

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