Saturday, September 07, 2019

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee Cruiser, N55633: Accident occurred August 31, 2019 near Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport (KCXO), Montgomery County, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:


Location: Conroe, TX
Accident Number: CEN19LA299
Date & Time: 08/31/2019, 0800 CDT
Registration: N55633
Aircraft: Piper PA28
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 31, 2019, about 0800 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140 (Cherokee Cruiser) airplane, N55633, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing to a large pond near Conroe, Texas. The commercial pilot and the passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to a private individual and was operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a visual flight rules personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Palestine Municipal Airport (PSN), Palestine, Texas, about 0700.

The pilot reported the purpose of the flight was to transport him and his sister to the Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport (CXO), Conroe, Texas, for a personal event. The flight originated from the Cherokee County Airport (JSO), Jacksonville, Texas at 0620. The airplane was previously filled with fuel and the pilot verified the fuel status before departing, which was 36 gallons of fuel onboard. The airplane arrived at PSN at 0645, and the pilot picked up his sister. After greetings, a passenger briefing, the runup procedures, and taxiing, the airplane departed from PSN at 0700 for CXO.

For the fuel planning for the flight, the pilot reported his plan was to use the right fuel tank until the descent into CXO. When the onboard global positioning system showed the airplane was about 15 miles (nautical) north of CXO, the pilot turned on the fuel pump and switched to the left fuel tank. After coordination with the air traffic control tower at CXO, the pilot maneuvered the airplane for a straight-in approach to runway 14. As the airplane approached the traffic pattern altitude and with the airport in sight, the pilot executed the before landing check.

The engine rpm was set to 1800, the mixture was adjusted to full rich, and the carburetor heat was turned on. The pilot reported that as soon as he turned the carburetor heat on, the engine went to idle. He immediately turned the carburetor heat back to off. He surmised that having the carburetor heat off would not fix the problem, and so he turned the carburetor heat back on.

After assessing the situation and realizing the airplane didn't have adequate power for flight, the pilot called the air traffic control tower at CXO to report the emergency and elected to conduct a forced landing to a nearby road. The pilot verified all of the circuit breakers were in, he verified the various switches were in the correct locations (particularly making sure the fuel pump switch and the master switch were both on), he verified the position of the magneto switch, and the location of the controls of the throttle quadrant. He reported he did not observe anything out of place.

He did not try to turn the magneto key since it was already in position and the engine was still running, but at idle. He switched the fuel selector back to the right fuel tank, he cycled the throttle twice, and left it at full power. The airplane was about 100 ft and 60 kts over the trees and the pilot assessed the situation that the airplane would not be able to land to the road. The pilot observed a pond and decided to execute a water landing to the pond. During the water impact, the airplane came to rest upside down, in a nose-down attitude as shown below in figure 1. The left wing sustained substantial damage from the water impact.

Figure 1 – View of the submerged airplane in the pond (courtesy of the Texas Department of Public Safety).

The circular shaped freshwater pond has an estimated width of 520 ft and a length of 430 ft. The estimated depth of where the airplane came to rest in the pond was between 5 to 7 ft. The bottom of the pond consisted of sand. The pond is about 3 miles to the north of the threshold for runway 14 at CXO.

During the underwater egression, the pilot stationed in the left seat and passenger stationed in the right seat released themselves from their restraint systems, up righted themselves, and switched positions in the cockpit since the door was on the passenger's side (the right side of the cockpit). In the Piper PA-28 series, the pilot is stationed in the left seat and there is only one door which is on the right side of the cockpit, above the right wing. After they switched positions, part of a passenger window breached from the force of the water, and water rapidly filled up the cabin and cockpit.

The pilot turned the safety latch at the center top of door, which was under his feet, and reported "it didn't feel right." He then pulled the locking latch located on the rearward side of the door, but it would not move. Since he could not open the door to egress, he then punctured and pushed out the acrylic glass door window, which provided a suitable avenue of escape for him and the passenger as shown below in figure 2. The pilot and passenger waded to shore without further incident. A good Samaritan driving by stopped to assist the pilot and passenger, and first responders were contacted. The airplane was recovered from the pond and moved to a secure location for a future examination of the airframe and engine.

Figure 2 – View of the door as the airplane was being recovered from the pond (courtesy of the Montgomery County Police Reporter).

The NTSB has previously identified egression difficulties with the Piper PA-28 series, particularly with an accident involving a fire or water egression. NTSB Safety Recommendations Letter A-81-26 Through -28, based upon several Piper PA-28 accidents, states in part:

The cabin door on the Cherokee, like several other single-engine aircraft designed for five or less persons, is the only available exit. Therefore, when the cabin door becomes jammed, blocked, or otherwise unusable during an accident, there are no alternate means of egress. Furthermore, the Cherokee door is designed with two separate latches: a locking latch located on the rearward side of the door, and a safety latch at the center top of the door which should be latched prior to the flight to provide a proper seal around the door. The prompt location and operation of the top safety latch can be difficult for occupants and rescuers alike.

The four-seat capacity airplane, serial number 28-7325447, was manufactured in 1973. The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming Engines O-320 series engine. According to the pilot, the airplane's registration records were in the process of being changed at the time of the accident.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N55633
Model/Series: PA28 140
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: KCXO, 245 ft msl
Observation Time: 1253 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2200 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Palestine, TX (PSN)
Destination: Houston, TX (CXO)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 30.403889, -95.437222 (est)

Two people suffered minor injuries Saturday morning after the plane they were flying in crashed into a pond near Farrell Road in Willis, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The plane was headed for Conroe Airport, where air traffic controllers had dispatched firefighters for a report of an aircraft emergency. Shortly after, officials from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office were told the plane might have to land on Interstate 45.

Minutes later, it was capsized in a nearby pond. A 50-year-old male and a 50-year old female were transported in stable condition, according to the Montgomery County Police Reporter.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.

Original article ➤

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Officials are working to determine what caused a plane to crash into a pond in Montgomery County Saturday morning.

Montgomery County Sheriff's Office responded to reports of a plane crash on Seven Coves Road near FM 2432.

TxDPS tweeted out a photo showing the plane upside down in a body of water.

Officials said the 50-year-old pilot and his passenger were transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration says they will investigate the crash.

Story and video ➤

WILLIS, Texas - Two people were injured Saturday when a small plane crashed into a pond near Willis.

The crash was reported about 8 a.m. along Farrell Road.

According to officials, the tower at the Conroe airport received an emergency declaration from the pilot.

Officials said they thought the pilot might attempt to land on Interstate 45, but got a call a few minutes later that the aircraft was upside down in a pond.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, both the pilot and passenger suffered minor injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.

Story and video ➤

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