Monday, February 28, 2022

Piper PA-28-150 Cherokee, N5208W: Accident occurred February 26, 2022 in Savannah, Georgia

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 traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia 
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Pointblank Aviation Inc

Location: Savannah, Georgia
Accident Number: ERA22LA144
Date and Time: February 26, 2022, 10:43 Local
Registration: N5208W
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-150
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

On February 26, 2022, at 1043 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-150, N5208W was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident in Savannah, Georgia. The student pilot was not injured. The solo instructional flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot, he was on short final for landing on runway 01 at his home airport. He was completing a solo cross-country when the air traffic controller (ATC) in the tower instructed him to discontinue his approach, turn right, and enter the left downwind leg of the traffic pattern for landing on runway 28. Once established on the downwind leg, the pilot completed a right 360° turn as directed by ATC, before he continued the downwind leg and turned left onto the base leg of the airport traffic pattern.

When approaching the turn onto the final approach leg of the traffic pattern, the engine lost power. According to the pilot, the engine “sputtered” and the engine rpm “dropped, then came back up” before the rpm reduced to 300 rpm. Engine rpm was never restored, and the pilot chose to perform a forced landing in the Savannah River.

The airplane was recovered from the Savannah River under the supervision of a Federal Aviation Administration inspector. Flight control continuity was established from the flight controls to all flight control surfaces. Twenty gallons of water and fuel was drained from the airplane’s fuel tanks, of which “maybe 3 or 4 gallons” was fuel. According to the recovery specialist, “About 75% of that was from the left tank. There was about 5 gallons in the right tank, and maybe a gallon of that was fuel.” When asked if the fuel tanks were breached, he replied, “No, when the diver went down there were no ‘rainbows’ going to the surface or any evidence of fuel leaking. There were no ‘rainbows’ on the surface either.”

The fuel selector was found in the right tank position.

The engine was examined at an aircraft recovery facility in Jacksonville, Florida. The spark plugs were removed, the engine was rotated by hand at the propeller, and water was pumped from the cylinders.

During rotation, continuity was confirmed from the powertrain to the valvetrain and the accessory section. Compression was confirmed using the thumb method. The magnetos were removed and dried with compressed air. When actuated with a drill, they produced spark at all terminal leads. The carburetor was removed and disassembled and contained no water or fuel. The fuel inlet screen was intact and unobstructed. The engine driven fuel pump was removed, contained no water or fuel, and pumped fluid when actuated by hand. The electric fuel pump was removed, contained no fuel, and operated when powered by a battery.

The student pilot reported 24 total hours of flight experience, all of which were in the accident airplane make and model.

The airplane’s most recent annual inspection was completed January 18, 2022, at 4,030 total aircraft hours.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N5208W
Model/Series: PA-28-150 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot school (141)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: SAV,51 ft msl
Observation Time: 10:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C /4°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 3800 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots / , 320°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.33 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Statesboro, GA (TBR)
Destination: Savannah, GA

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 32.12758,-81.20213 (est)

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