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N9285R accident description

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Tail numberN9285R
Accident dateAugust 22, 2005
Aircraft typePiper PA-32R-301
LocationWest Chester, PA
Near 39.985277 N, -75.581945 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 22, 2005, about 1030 eastern daylight time, N9285R, a Piper PA-32R-301, was destroyed during impact with trees and terrain, and subsequent postcrash fire, following an aborted landing at Brandywine Airport (N99), West Chester, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, which departed North Central State Airport (SFZ), Pawtucket, Rhode Island, about 0815.

According to the pilot's brother, the pilot and his passenger had flown from Maine to Rhode Island, where they stayed for a time. During that flight, the pilot had contacted his brother, via telephone, while en-route and reported that he was experiencing some type of problem with the left main landing gear, or its associated indicator light. At the conclusion of the visit, and while preparing for the accident flight, the pilot and his brother inspected the airplane and did not note any deficiencies. The pilot subsequently departed for Brandywine Airport.

A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control (ATC) communication information revealed that the pilot contacted New York Terminal Radar Approach Control at 0917, and requested to navigate through the New York City area airspace. The flight proceeded uneventfully, and ATC services were terminated when the airplane reached the vicinity of the destination airport.

Several persons near Brandywine Airport observed the airplane during the landing approach, and during the aborted landing.

One witness, who was working in his shop on the north side of the airport, heard the pilot report via radio when he entered the airport area. The witness subsequently heard the pilot report his position on the downwind, base, and final legs of the traffic pattern. The witness next saw the airplane about 100 yards from the threshold of runway 27, with the flaps fully extended and the landing gear retracted. He then warned the pilot, via radio, that the airplane's landing gear was not extended.

As the witness ran toward the runway, he saw the airplane's flaps drag on the runway pavement. Shortly thereafter, he heard the engine power increase. The nose of the airplane pitched down, and the propeller contacted the runway. The airplane climbed, banked left, struck trees located about 500 feet before the departure end of the runway, and continued to climb.

The witness then followed the path of the airplane in his vehicle. He briefly lost sight of the airplane, and when he next saw it, he observed the engine and propeller "shaking." The airplane then disappeared from his view behind trees.

The witness stated that all of the pilot's radio transmissions were "normal," and stated specifically that the pilot did not make any distress calls, nor did he request any assistance.

Another witness, who was in his hangar on the south side of the airport, stated that he heard an unusual sound and looked up to see the airplane in a steep bank turn, at an altitude of "less than double [the] height of trees." The airplane's landing gear was extended, its speed slowed, and its pitch angle increased. He heard the engine "maintaining the sound of full power," while the airplane turned to the east. The airplane continued to slow, and the pitch angle continued to increase, as the wings leveled. The airplane then descended out of his view. Moments later he heard the sounds of impact.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight in the township of West Goshen, Pennsylvania, at 39 degrees, 59 minutes north latitude, 75 degrees, 34 minutes west longitude.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on April 5, 2001, with the limitation of "MUST WEAR CORRECTIVE LENSES." On that date the pilot reported 6,000 total hours of flight experience.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane was a 1997 Piper PA-32R-301. The most recent annual inspection was completed October 1, 2004, and at that time the airplane had accrued 486 total hours of flight time.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The weather reported at Pottstown Limerick Airport (PTW), about 15 nautical miles north, at 1054 included variable winds at 4 knots, clear skies below 12,000 feet, 10 statute miles visibility, temperature 79 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 61 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.89 inches of mercury.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

Brandywine Airport was comprised of a single 3,347 by 50-foot runway oriented in a 09/27 configuration.

An employee of the airport fixed base operator witnessed the aborted landing, and outlined the area where he saw the propeller strike the runway. Examination of the area revealed uniformly spaced, parallel pavement abrasions, about 8 inches in length. The markings began about 870 feet beyond the runway 27 threshold, and continued for about 150 feet along the centerline of the runway.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane came to rest in a wooded area, adjacent to a reservoir, about 1/2 mile south of the airport. The initial impact point was a large tree, about 50 feet above the terrain elevation. The wreckage path was about 150 feet long, and oriented in a direction of 180 degrees magnetic. The main wreckage came to rest oriented on a 130-degree heading.

Numerous broken tree branches, and several pieces of wood cut at 45-degree angles were found along the wreckage path. Those pieces were generally about 12 inches long, and displayed black paint transfer on the cut surfaces. One cut piece was about 5 inches in diameter.

The right wingtip was lodged at the top of the initial impact tree, and the outboard-most portion of the left wing came to rest about 20 feet behind the main wreckage. The left wing had separated from the fuselage at the wing root, and came to rest just behind the stabilator. The inboard portion of that wing exhibited fire damage. The left main landing gear was out of its well, and lying with the wheel toward the trailing edge of the wing. The landing gear attachment points and actuator were destroyed by fire, but the down lock hook was found in the locked position. The right wing was separated from the fuselage at the wing root, and was located immediately adjacent to the fuselage. The right main landing gear was in the down and locked position.

The nose landing gear was folded into its well. The nose landing gear actuator had separated at both attachment ends. The actuator was found in the extended position, and the actuator rod was bent 90 degrees. Further examination revealed that the nose landing gear down locking mechanism was impact damaged.

The left wingtip navigation light was removed, and examination revealed that the light bulb filament was stretched.

The right portion of the stabilator was bent and crushed upward, and the left portion was fire damaged. The vertical stabilizer was crushed on the left side, and the rudder was intact.

The fuselage was fire damaged, and the portion of fuselage above the lower window line was consumed by fire. The cockpit and instrument panel were also consumed by fire.

The air conditioner door was found in the up and closed position.

Flight control continuity was confirmed from the stabilator, stabilator trim, rudder, and right aileron, to the main cabin area. Left aileron control continuity was established to the wing root, where the cable was separated, and consistent with tension overload. The flight control cables were also attached to the stabilator control "t-bar," the rudder bar, and the aileron control chain.

The flap actuator jackscrew displayed 2 threads, and the flap torque tube brackets measured 6 inches from the left and right boltholes to the bottom of the fuselage. These measurements were consistent with a 40-degree flap setting.

Both flaps were separated from their respective wing attachment points, and the left flap exhibited fire damage. The inboard trailing edge portion of both flaps, and the bottom of the cabin entry step, exhibited longitudinal scratching and gouging.

All three propeller blades were curled and gouged at the blade tips, consistent with ground contact.

The engine was largely intact and damaged by fire. The crankshaft was rotated by the propeller, which remained attached. Continuity was confirmed from the propeller flange to the rear gears, and to the valvetrain. Compression was observed on all cylinders using the thumb method. Bore scope examination of all cylinders revealed no anomalies.

The magnetos were fire damaged and could not be rotated. All six top spark plugs were removed. Their electrodes were intact and dark gray in color.

The fuel servo was removed and examined. The mixture control arm was near the full rich position, and the throttle was near the full open position. The fuel servo inlet screen was free from obstruction. The fuel manifold valve diaphragm was intact, and the fuel manifold valve and all six fuel injector nozzles were absent of debris. The fuel pump was fire damaged and could not be examined.

The oil filter element was charred, and no metal particles were observed.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

On August 22, 2005, an autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Chester County Corner, West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Toxicological testing was performed by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The test revealed the presence of the following drugs:

30.33 (ug/ml, ug/g) ACETAMINOPHEN detected in Urine 0.079 (ug/ml, ug/g) DIPHENHYDRAMINE detected in Blood DIPHENHYDRAMINE present in Urine CETIRIZINE detected in Blood CETIRIZINE present in Urine

Review of the medical records maintained on the pilot by the FAA Aerospace Medical Certification Division revealed that the pilot had noted multiple times to have a history of hay fever, and on his most recent application for airman medical certificate dated 4/5/01, to be using Claritin (loratadine) occasionally for hay fever. At the time of the accident, the pilot's medical certificate was expired.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to an aircraft recovery facility on August 24, 2005.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.