Sunday, March 21, 2021

Piper PA-32R-300, N5544F: Accident occurred March 21, 2019 at Atmautluak Airport (4A2), Alaska

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fairbanks, Alaska

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Atmautluak, Alaska 
Accident Number: GAA19CA174
Date & Time: March 21, 2019
Registration: N5544F
Aircraft: Piper PA32R 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event:
Injuries: 5 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air taxi & commuter - Scheduled


The pilot reported that, while taxiing to the runway for departure, he felt a "large bump." The pilot immediately shut down the engine and inspected the airplane. He identified damage to the right wing and landing gear. 

The pilot further reported that he inspected the taxiway after he saw the airplane's damage and noted that the large bump he felt was due to the right landing gear's encounter with a snow-covered pothole.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The airplane's encounter with a snow-covered pothole during taxi.


Environmental issues Hidden/submerged object - Effect on operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Taxi-to runway Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 47, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/13/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 10/13/2018
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 1183.9 hours (Total, all aircraft), 458.9 hours (Total, this make and model), 1153.9 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 250 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 125 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 6 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N5544F
Model/Series: PA32R 300
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1976
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 32R-7780014
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 02/28/2019, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3600 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2421.8 Hours
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: TIO-540-SER
Registered Owner: Michael W Renfro
Rated Power: 300 hp
Operator: Yute Commuter Service
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Unknown
Condition of Light: Not Reported
Observation Facility, Elevation: PABE, 102 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 14 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1753 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 110°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 5000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 30°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.29 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: -2°C / -3°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Bethel, AK (BET)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Unknown
Destination: Atmautluak, AK (4A2)
Type of Clearance: Unknown
Departure Time:  ADT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Atmautluak (4A2)
Runway Surface Type: Gravel
Airport Elevation: 19 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Holes; Rough; Snow
Runway Used: 33
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3000 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 4 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 5 None
Latitude, Longitude:  60.863889, -162.273889 (est)

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