Saturday, September 19, 2020

Piper PA-31-350 Chieftain, N257SH: Accident occurred September 19, 2020 at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (KFXE), Broward County, Florida

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. 

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.
Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; South Florida 

Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL 
Accident Number: ERA20LA331
Date & Time: September 19, 2020, 11:59 Local
Registration: N257SH
Aircraft: Piper PA31
Injuries: 8 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air taxi & commuter - Scheduled

On September 19, 2020, about 1159 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-31-350, N257SH, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE), Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The pilot and the seven passengers were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 revenue flight.

According to the pilot, when the airplane was about 10-15 miles offshore over the Atlantic Ocean, the left engine stopped producing power. He turned on the cross-feed valve, switched on both boost pumps, and restored power to the left engine. When the airplane was on a left base for runway 13 at FXE, both engines shut down. The pilot said he was “too low and too slow” to get lined up to land on the runway and made a forced landing on the grass between the runway and taxiway B, resulting in substantial damage to the fuselage.

The airplane wreckage was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper 
Registration: N257SH
Model/Series: PA31 350 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand air taxi (135)
Operator Designator Code: ISCA

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: FXE,13 ft msl
Observation Time: 11:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C /24°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.93 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Freeport (FPO)
Destination: Fort Lauderdale, FL

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 7 None 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 8 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 26.119127,-80.129943 (est)


  1. Chief Pilot had 7 pax and himself on board. 8 people total. Officials Claim the pilot ran out of fuel over the coastline. One engine died and the other was not producing power. Rumor has it the pilot made the airport but stalled the aircraft in the final moments. Pilot claims the airplane fuel gauges must have been broken.

    1. Rumor has it, that those fuel gauges have broken for years on that plane.

  2. If the pilot was having engine problems, why didn’t he declare an emergency? Listening to Live ATC On Tower 2 for KFXE the Pilot was asked to make a go-around. It’s also odd that both props are bent like the engines were running in the pictures I have seen.

    1. If power was on then they would be bent forward not back and if he lost an engine and reduced power then one engine should have been feathered on the dead engine and I'm not seeing that...

    2. If he lost an engine on the coast and he KNEW it was from fuel starvation then WHY didn't he drop it into Pompano as that he practically flew right over it!!

  3. In the Small Aviation Field,Theres an Unwritten rule of Not,question the Judgement of a PIC and just let the Pros(NTSB)Do their job,Apparently None of you Had never Learn it,Why dont You all put your Real names,So your Chief Pilot and your Company know whos behind the Comment?...We call you Guys...THE CHAIR NTSB EXPERTS...Me Willie Gonzalez

  4. The Pilot is very experienced and did a terrific job anyone else it would have been a disaster, thank God he was the Pilot. Mario Jacobo

  5. Chuck Yeager said,
    "If you can walk away from a landing, it's a good landing."
    this does not apply for the Chieftain,
    "If you use the airplane the next day, it's an outstanding landing."

  6. How poor do you have to be to put 7 peoples lives in your hand and not do your job? KFXE security has informed people that the pilot ran out of fuel. If you can not do simple fuel calculations prior to taking off then you should not be flying at all. If you can not afford the fuel then aviation is not for you. It is bovine to pack 8 people into an airplane and ask for 5 gallons per side. I guess this particular aviator also forgot about the reserve fuel requirements.

    Everything so far seems to point to PIC. I dont care if the "fuel gauges" where "broken" or "have been broken for years". you open the tanks. stick the tanks. and submit your fuel request, end of story. If you can not visually stick your tanks then run simple calculations and submit a fuel request that will be sufficient to get you home.

    If everyone claims this aviator is so good then please have him or her come forward and explain what happened.

    Why not feather props?
    Why not divert to pompano?
    Why not ask for more fuel?

  7. yes pilot error, fueled by circumstances, many out of his control. Give him an D minus for all the issues leading up to the first indication of fuel starvation, give him an A for being a real pilot handling everything after the first emergency flow.

  8. All this discussion implies access to inside information, but nobody has mentioned that he landed on the taxiway. From the FAA incident notice posted 21 September:


    A taxiway landing with runoff into turf is a better outcome than a stall/spin crash. The circumstances that made the taxiway the best option will be of interest.