Saturday, July 31, 2021

Abnormal Runway Contact: Piper PA-28R-201T Cherokee Arrow III, N31720; accident occurred July 25, 2020 at Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport (KFHB), Nassau County, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Fernandina Beach, Florida
Accident Number: ERA20CA265
Date & Time: July 25, 2020, 09:40 Local
Registration: N31720
Aircraft: Piper PA28R 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Abnormal runway contact 
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot reported that the airplane had just undergone an annual inspection, and this was the first flight since the work had been completed. After a normal preflight and run-up, the pilot departed, raised the landing gear, and during the initial climb, he felt an "intermittent shudder" from the engine. He reported that all of the engine parameters appeared normal, and when he reduced power in the climb the shudder stopped. The pilot subsequently decided to land immediately; he reported that on downwind in the airport traffic pattern, abeam the runway numbers, he recalled that he lowered the flaps and landing gear. He further reported that the approach was stable, and that the airplane touched down on the left main landing gear first, and as the airplane settled to the runway, the "right wing tip dropped to the runway." The airplane subsequently skidded off the runway and into terrain where the left main landing gear collapsed. The left wing and fuselage sustained substantial damage.

The pilot reported that throughout the traffic pattern, he was "intently watching the engine monitor" and could not recall observing the three green landing gear down annunciator lights prior to landing, however, he recalled that the gear unsafe warning light directly in front of him was not red at any point during the flight. He reported that after the accident, when the airplane was lifted up for recovery, the right main landing gear was found retracted in its well.

A witness that was located on airport property reported that he observed the airplane on short final, and the right main landing gear appeared to be retracted, but the left and nose landing gear appeared to be down. He subsequently observed the airplane touch down on the left main landing gear and roll for "quite some time" before the right wing contacted the runway.

Examination of the landing gear system by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector following the accident found that the nose and right main landing gear functioned normally through multiple cycles. The respective green landing gear annunciator lights functioned normally, and the nose and right main landing gear fell and locked into place through the activation of the emergency gear
release handle as well. The left main landing gear was disconnected from the system prior to the tests due to damage sustained in the runway excursion. The investigation was unable to duplicate any operational discrepancies with the landing gear system.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The failure of the right main landing gear to extend prior to landing, which could not be duplicated during postaccident tests.


Aircraft Main landing gear - Not specified

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing Abnormal runway contact (Defining event)
Landing-landing roll Runway excursion
Landing-landing roll Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private 
Age: 59,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Single-engine sea
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With waivers/limitations 
Last FAA Medical Exam: March 6, 2015
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: April 18, 2019
Flight Time: 215 hours (Total, all aircraft), 17 hours (Total, this make and model), 150 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 0.4 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 0.4 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0.4 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N31720
Model/Series: PA28R 201T 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1978 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal 
Serial Number: 28R-7803297
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle 
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: July 24, 2020 Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2900 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 5267 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: TSIO-360-FB
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 201 Horsepower
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: FHB,15 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 09:35 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 0°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 110° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 26°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Fernandina Beach, FL (FHB)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Fernandina Beach, FL (FHB)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 09:35 Local 
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Fernandina Beach Muni FHB 
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 15 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 13 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5152 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full stop; Traffic pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 30.613056,-81.46611(est)

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