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N9360P accident description

North Dakota map... North Dakota list
Crash location 46.920556°N, 96.815833°W
Nearest city Fargo, ND
46.877186°N, 96.789803°W
3.2 miles away
Tail number N9360P
Accident date 07 Feb 2018
Aircraft type Piper Pa 24-260
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On February 7, 2018, about 1800 central standard time, a Piper PA-24-260 airplane, N9360P, had a runway excursion when its landing gear collapsed during landing on runway 18 at the Hector International Airport (FAR), near Fargo, North Dakota. The pilot and passenger were uninjured. The airplane sustained substantial wing damage when it contacted a runway sign. The rental airplane was registered to Vic's Aircraft Sales LLC and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Dusk light visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from FAR about 1740.

In an interview with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot reported that he'd taxied the airplane to the Jet Center to pick up a passenger. When leaving the Jet Center, the airplane's engine would not start. A ground power unit was used to start the airplane's engine. The pilot ran the airplane's engine in an attempt to charge the battery and verified the charging system by checking the ammeter. The pilot taxied the airplane out to the runway and performed a run-up; however, he did not verify the ammeter indication before takeoff.

After departure, the pilot noticed that he did not receive a radio call from the tower controller and saw that all the radios were inoperative. He subsequently re-entered the traffic pattern at FAR and rocked the airplane's wings to indicate to the tower controller that he was experiencing radio difficulties. The controller gave him a green light to land and the pilot selected the gear down using normal procedures, and then due to the electrical failure, initiated the emergency gear extension. The pilot was unable to remove the cover plate over the emergency gear handle, so he bent the cover back. He then placed the emergency extension rod into the right hole on the torque tube and rocked the rod back and forth. The pilot checked the mirror on the wing tip and the landing gear appeared to be down. On touchdown on the runway, the landing gear collapsed, and the airplane slid off the runway where it impacted a runway sign.

The pilot was not able to see the emergency gear extension instruction printed inside the cover plate as he could not open it, and he did not use the emergency procedures in the airplane flight manual or abbreviated check list to properly extend the gear.

According to the flight instructor who conducted the pilot's checkout in the accident airplane, he'd explained to the pilot how the electrical system fails to charge a battery that has gone completely dead even when you use external power start the engine. The instructor further explained that "for the battery to be charged by the alternator you first need to get at least a minimal charge in the battery to provide enough voltage to open the field for the electricity from the alternator to flow to the battery to fully charge it."

The instructor also explained the emergency landing gear extension and how it would require a mechanic to reset the gear. Once the emergency landing gear extension had been accomplished the pilot cannot retract the gear. The instructor and pilot then pulled the floor panel for the landing gear and visually discussed the landing gear and emergency gear extension for a second time. This included pulling the removable extension handle from its position and demonstrating how it inserted into the socket. The instructor advised that the pilot would feel a positive movement and physical locking of the gear into place when the emergency procedure was completed. He pointed out that during an electrical failure, the pilot would not have a gear down light illuminated but there was the mirror on the left wing that would show at least two of the gear down.

An FAA inspector interviewed a mechanic that troubleshot the aircraft electrical system following the accident. It was determined that the alternator was the cause of the electrical charging failure and that the battery was not fully charged before takeoff.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to use the published emergency procedures to manually extend the landing gear when an electrical failure precluded normal extension of the landing gear, resulting in the gear collapse during landing. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to ensure, before takeoff, that the battery was fully charged after its depletion due to a faulty alternator.

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