Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Loss of Control in Flight: Piper PA-28R-200 Arrow, N2702R; accident occurred February 18, 2017 near Centennial Airport (KAPA), Englewood, Arapahoe County, Colorado

Airplane Wreckage at Accident Site Side View. 

Airplane Wreckage at Accident Site Rear View. 

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

Additional Participating Entities: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Denver, Colorado
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Centennial, CO
Accident Number: CEN17LA122
Date & Time: 02/18/2017, 1529 MST
Registration: N2702R
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28R-200
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries:1 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional

On February 18, 2017, about 1529 mountain standard time, a Piper PA28R-200 airplane, N2702R, sustained substantial damage after it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from the Centennial Airport (APA), Centennial, Colorado. The flight instructor sustained minor injuries, and the private pilot receiving instruction sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by Centennial Flyers of Englewood, Colorado, and the instructional flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed.

According to the private pilot who was seated in the left seat, the flight instructor tried to prime the engine several times while pushing the mixture back and forth several times. After the third try, the engine started, and the private pilot proceeded to prepare for takeoff on runway 17L. He stated that the airplane had difficulty obtaining lift during takeoff roll. After liftoff about 75 knots, the engine RPMs remained high and power seemed sufficient, but the airplane was not gaining altitude. Toward the end of the runway, the flight instructor took over the controls and flew the aircraft past the departure end of the 10,000-ft runway, crossed over highway E-470, banked left, and then touched down in grassy area. The private pilot recalled that the airspeed was about 55 knots prior to bracing for impact with trees. He stated that the flight instructor passed out upon impact with a tree and recalled feeling that the left wing sheared off. He recalled pulling himself out of the aircraft and being transported to the hospital.

According to the flight instructor, the engine was run up to 2,000 RPMs, with positive magneto and flight control checks prior to departure. The fuel pump was ON and the mixture was leaned for takeoff. The rotation speed was about 65 knots within about a 1,000-ft ground roll. The airplane gained airspeed to about 75 to 80 knots and had a slow climb. The flight instructor verified that the flap handle was down and the flaps were visually up. Upon reaching about 150 ft altitude, he felt like something was pushing the airplane down. He stated that the engine seemed to have full RPMs and the throttle and mixture were full forward. He stated that he recalled seeing the airspeed at 65 knots and heard a stall warning horn when the airplane contacted the ground.

In an interview after the accident, the private pilot stated that a Falcon Jet took off on runway 17L, about 2 minutes prior to takeoff, and he was concerned about wake turbulence. The flight instructor stated that he was not concerned about the possible wake turbulence because of the wind conditions at takeoff. The flight instructor reported that he thought that the airplane's climbout was affected by a wind shear.

The accident site revealed that aircraft landed in grassy area heading approximately 120°, about 1 mile west of APA. Landing gear track marks showed all three landing gear on the ground with a straight track until impact with a tree. After impact with the tree, the airplane crossed a parking lot driveway, skidded 100 ft, and came to rest inverted.

The airplane wreckage was transported to a secure facility to be examined. During the examination, the throttle, propeller, and mixture controls functioned normally. The engine rotated freely and all cylinders produced compression. The magnetos produced spark at all spark plug terminals. The engine oil screen was found clean. After the visual inspection, the engine was successfully run on the airframe throughout its operating range. The elevator, aileron, and rudder cables were found intact and functional except for impact related damage. 

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor
Age: 58, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/16/2014
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 7400 hours (Total, all aircraft), 17 hours (Total, this make and model), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Pilot-Rated Passenger Information

Certificate: Private
Age: , Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s):None 
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam:09/24/2014 
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 166 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1 hours (Total, this make and model), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N2702R
Model/Series: PA 28R-200 200
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 28R-35252
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/01/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2600 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3436 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: I0360 SER
Registered Owner: Sale Pending
Rated Power: 200 hp
Operator: Centennial Flyers
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: APA, 5793 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1530 MST
Direction from Accident Site: 180°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 15 knots / 23 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 170°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 29.64 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 6°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Centennial, CO (APA)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Centennial, CO (APA)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  MST
Type of Airspace:Class E 

Airport Information

Airport: Centennial (APA)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 5885 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used:17L 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 10000 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 39.570000, -104.849444 (est)


  1. The student pilot's 2,075 word statement in "Student Pilot's Statement CEN17LA122" of the docket is quite a tale, particularly the description of going through the trees.

  2. Not the first time i'v heard "Oh God" and someone passed out.

  3. After reading the students statement I concluded that he is going to make a great Ring Knocker ... Lol.

    If you don't ask him within a few seconds I'm sure he is going to tell you.

  4. Ahem... He wasn't a "student". He was a private pilot receiving instruction. Just sayin'....

    1. I'm an ATP SEL MEL, CFII SEL MEL, CML Glider, 4 ATP Types and ... Ahem... still consider myself a "student" ... Just sayin' ... ;-)

  5. I calculate the density altitude that day at 7919 feet. Could this be the major cause? Regardless, a 10,000 foot runway should give ample room for a takeoff abort.

    1. Density altitude stole a lot of climb performance and the reported gusty wind from 170° has to come down a long hill toward that airport. The moving air mass could easily have a significant downward effect on poor climb performing aircraft while close to the ground, just as the IP described. The downward aspect would be still be there at the 470 loop road but not for the early portion of the RW17 takeoff roll.

      Video of another 200 hp Arrow at KBJC in Colorado (@5660ft EL.) shows long takeoff roll on 9000 foot runway 30L and slow climb with just one person aboard (air temperature unstated):

    2. And it appears that the gear stayed down the whole time in this accident, further inhibiting climb.