Friday, March 1, 2019

Piper PA-32-260, privately owned and operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, N1563X: Accident occurred February 28, 2019 in Atlantic Ocean

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Miramar, Florida

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: AO
Accident Number: ERA19TA111
Date & Time: 02/28/2019, 1352 EST
Registration: N1563X
Aircraft: Piper PA32
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On February 28, 2019, at 1352 eastern standard time, a privately owned and operated Piper PA32-260, N1563X, was ditched into the Atlantic Ocean about 25 nautical miles east of West Palm Beach, Florida. The private pilot was uninjured. The airplane was not recovered and presumed substantially damaged. The flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which departed Treasure Coast International Airport (FPR), Fort Pierce, Florida, around 1300 and was destined for Grand Bahama International Airport (MYGF), Freeport, Bahamas.

According to the pilot, he topped off all fuel tanks in FPR, and was flying with VFR flight following to the Bahamas. About 15 minutes after leveling off at 3,500 ft mean sea level, the engine started to "sputter" immediately after the pilot initiated a climb to 7,500 ft. He turned on the fuel boost pump, observed that the fuel pressure was good, but noted no improvement in engine performance. He then switched fuel tanks and applied carburetor heat but was unable to diagnose the problem, and the engine lost all power shortly thereafter. He turned into the wind, extended full flaps to reduce his ground speed, and advised air traffic control that he would be ditching. After landing in the water, the pilot egressed without incident onto the airplane's wing and deployed a life raft; the airplane subsequently sank and was not recovered. The pilot activated a personal emergency position-indicating radio beacon and was rescued.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine and multi-engine land instrument airplane. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed 6,918.9 total hours of flight experience of which 810 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.
According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1975 and was powered by a 260-hp Lycoming, O-540 Series reciprocating engine. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed March 19, 2018, at a recorded tachometer reading of 898.2 hours and an airframe total time of 6,461.2 hours. The engine had accumulated 1,807.5 hours since major overhaul.

At 1353, the weather reported at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), about 25 miles west of the accident site, included winds from 080° at 8 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 3,600 ft, temperature 24° C, dew point 17° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.05 inches of mercury.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N1563X
Model/Series: PA32 260
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
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: , 19 ft msl
Observation Time: 1853 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 25 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 17°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 3600 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 80°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Fort Pierce, FL (KFPR)
Destination: Freeport (MYBG)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude:  26.659444, -79.688056 (est)

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