Sunday, February 24, 2019

Piper PA-32R-300 Lance, N544DG: Accident occurred September 03, 2017 at Merritt Island Airport (KCOI), Brevard County, Florida


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


Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

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


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

http://registry.faa.gov/N544DG



Location: Merritt Island, FL
Accident Number: ERA17LA311
Date & Time: 09/03/2017, 0920 EDT
Registration: N544DG
Aircraft: PIPER PA32R
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Aerodynamic stall/spin
Injuries: 4 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On September 3, 2017, about 0920 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300, N544DG, was substantially damaged when it collided with water during takeoff at Merritt Island Airport (KCOF), Merritt Island, Florida. The private pilot and three passengers were not injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules flight plan was filed for the planned flight to Marsh Harbour International Airport (MYAM), Marsh Harbour, Bahamas.

The pilot reported that prior to the flight, he fueled the airplane to a total of 80 gallons of 100-low-lead aviation gasoline. He then completed a preflight inspection of the airplane and subsequent engine run-up prior to takeoff, with no anomalies noted. The pilot added that although the automated surface observation system reported the wind from 350° at 5 knots, the wind was light and variable at the time of the accident. Additionally, an airplane was in the airport traffic pattern and using runway 11, so the pilot elected to depart in that direction. The pilot initially stated that he extended the flaps "two notches" and rotated the airplane at 80 knots, about two-thirds down the 3,601-foot asphalt runway. He later stated that the flaps were retracted during the takeoff attempt.

A witness, who was a flight instructor at a fixed-based-operator, was standing near a hangar and observed the accident takeoff. The witness stated that his attention was drawn to the accident airplane as it used more of a ground roll during the takeoff attempt than what he was accustomed to seeing. Specifically, the airplane did not rotate until about 2,300 feet down the runway. The nose initially pitched up about 5° and the airplane climbed about 20 to 30 feet above ground level. Then, as the airplane approached trees, the nose pitched up about 15° and the left wing dropped, consistent with a stall. The witness added that the pilot initially reported the engine "quit," but the witness heard engine noise throughout the takeoff, until the airplane impacted the water.

Review of airport surveillance video revealed that the airplane had not lifted off as it traveled off the right side of camera view, about 600 feet prior to the departure end of the runway.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions. The inspector rotated the propeller and confirmed crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity to the rear accessory section of the engine. During rotation, the inspector noted saltwater emitting from the exhaust. The inspector did not attempt a test-run of the engine as saltwater remained in the engine and had corroded one of the magnetos.

The pilot provided weights of the occupants and baggage, and estimated 75 gallons of fuel onboard at takeoff. Based on information provided by the pilot, the airplane was about 117 lbs. below its maximum takeoff weight of 3,600 lbs. The witness estimated 12 bags on board and their combined weight more than double the 100 lbs. that the pilot reported; however, the bags were wet after the accident and could not be accurately weighed. Additionally, the airplane held a total of 94 gallons of useable fuel and the exact fuel load during the takeoff attempt could not be determined.

The recorded weather at an airport located about 8 miles southeast of the accident site, at 0853, was: wind from 330° at 6 knots; visibility 10 miles; few clouds at 6,500 ft; temperature 26° C; dew point 24° C; altimeter 30.09 inches of mercury.

Review of a pilot's operating handbook for the make and model airplane revealed that at 80° F, with flaps retracted, at 3,600 lbs., with a 3-knot tailwind, at sea level, the airplane required about 2,900 feet to clear a 50-foot barrier. The data assumed a liftoff speed of 64 knots and a barrier speed of 69 knots.



Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 43, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 None
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/26/2014
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/18/2016
Flight Time:  627 hours (Total, all aircraft), 65 hours (Total, this make and model), 627 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 10 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N544DG
Model/Series: PA32R 300
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1977
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 32R-7780440
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 09/01/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3600 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 113 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1897 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C126 installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: IO-540
Registered Owner: LANCE N38544 LLC
Rated Power: 300 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None



Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCOF, 8 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0858 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 150°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 330°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C / 24°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Merritt Island, FL (KCOI)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Destination: Marsh Harbour, FN (MYAM)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0920 EDT
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Airport: Merritt Island Airport (KCOI)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 6 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 11
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3601 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 3 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 4 None
Latitude, Longitude:  28.341667, -80.685556 (est)





NTSB Identification: ERA17LA311 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, September 03, 2017 in Merritt Island, FL
Aircraft: PIPER PA32R, registration: N544DG
Injuries: 4 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 3, 2017, about 0908 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-300, N544DG, operated by the private pilot, was substantially damaged when it collided with water during takeoff at Merritt Island Airport (KCOF), Merritt Island, Florida. The private pilot and three passengers were not injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules flight plan was filed for the planned flight to Marsh Harbour International Airport (MYAM), Marsh Harbour, Bahamas.

The pilot reported that prior to the flight, he fueled the airplane to a total of 80 gallons of 100-low-lead aviation gasoline. He then completed a preflight inspection of the airplane and engine run-up prior to takeoff, with no anomalies noted. The pilot added that although the automated surface observation system reported the wind from 350° at 5 knots, the wind was light and variable at the time of the accident. Additionally, an airplane was in the airport traffic pattern and using runway 11, so the pilot elected to depart in that direction. The pilot further stated that he extended the flaps "two notches" and rotated the airplane at 80 knots, about two-thirds down the 3,601-foot asphalt runway.

The pilot also reported that as the airplane climbed above 20 ft, it experienced a decrease of engine power prior to the landing gear being retracted. The airplane was unable to climb without entering a stall. It then drifted left of runway heading and landed in shallow water about 1,000 ft from the departure end of the runway.

The recorded weather at an airport located about 8 miles southeast of the accident site, at 0853, was: wind from 330° at 6 knots; visibility 10 miles; few clouds at 6,500 ft; temperature 26° C; dew point 24° C; altimeter 30.09 inches of mercury.

The airplane was retained for further examination.

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