Saturday, August 22, 2020

System/Component Malfunction/Failure (Non-Power): Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six 300, N5909V; accident occurred November 17, 2019 at Venice Municipal Airport (KVNC), Florida

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Venice, Florida
Accident Number: ERA20CA036
Date & Time: November 17, 2019, 13:37 Local
Registration: N5909V
Aircraft: Piper PA32 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Sys/Comp malf/fail (non-power)
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot taxied the airplane 0.5 mile to the hold-short line at the departure runway where he intended to complete an engine run-up. According to the pilot, the right brake "didn't feel right" as he approached the hold-short line, so he completed a 360° turn to "test the brakes at a higher than normal speed," and the right brake failed. During the turn and once the pilot stopped the airplane, he and the passenger smelled smoke and then saw smoke and fire coming from beneath the airplane. After the pilot and passenger safely egressed the cockpit, the airplane was destroyed by fire. The pilot stated that he thought the brake caliper was stuck, which likely led to the brake caliper catching fire.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A stuck brake caliper, which overheated while the pilot was taxiing the airplane, caught fire, and subsequently destroyed the airplane.


Aircraft Brake - Malfunction

Factual Information

History of Flight

Taxi-to runway Sys/Comp malf/fail (non-power) (Defining event)
Taxi-to runway Fire/smoke (non-impact)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 61, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: BasicMed None
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/04/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 1000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 35 hours (Total, this make and model), 1000 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N5909V
Model/Series: PA32 300
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1977
Amateur Built:No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 32-7740074
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/04/2019, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 9 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4039.91 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: TI0-540 SER
Registered Owner: On file
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: KVNC, 19 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1335 EST
Direction from Accident Site: 3°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 50°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 30.06 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 16°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Venice, FL (VNC)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: North Eleuthera, CB (MYEH)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: EST
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 17 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 05
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5000 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 27.067222, -82.440278


  1. A witness on the airport took notice of the unusual amount of power being used relative to the taxi speed of the aircraft.

    Pilot had taken off and returned earlier - seems inconceivable to not notice the increased throttle required to taxi or the tendency to turn into the dragging brake when you expected to have the pedals centered under light touch effort of a normal taxi.

  2. Oh, he knew it was sticking. He knew it was hot and smoking but he did not expect it to catch fire. And I would agree that a brake fire is unusual.


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