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N104RM accident description

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Crash location 36.208611°N, 115.195277°W
Nearest city Las Vegas, NV
36.174971°N, 115.137223°W
4.0 miles away
Tail number N104RM
Accident date 05 Jan 2012
Aircraft type Piper Aerostar 601P
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On January 5, 2012, at 1539 Pacific standard time, a Piper Aerostar 601P, N104RM, sustained substantial damage during a landing at North Las Vegas Airport (VGT), Las Vegas, Nevada. The private pilot, the sole occupant of the airplane, was not injured. The owner/pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal local flight, which had originated approximately 39 minutes before the accident. A flight plan had not been filed.

The pilot stated that the purpose of the flight was to practice instrument landing approaches. On the third approach, he requested to side step from runway 12 left to 12 right for a full stop landing. The tower controller approved the side step and cleared him for landing. The pilot reported that almost immediately after touchdown, the airplane began “wavering” and moments later, veered to the left. He attempted to regain directional control with the application of “full right rudder” and subsequently the airplane departed the right side of the runway. The pilot attributed the loss of directional control to a main landing gear malfunction.

A witness said that the airplane’s landing touchdown was “firm” but not abnormal. Several witnesses observed the airplane to “fishtail” almost immediately after touchdown and drift towards the left side of the runway. As the airplane approached the left side of the runway, it “yawed” right and went “skidding” down the runway while facing right. The left engine propeller blades began contacting the runway. The witness said that as the airplane began moving to the right side of the runway, he heard the right engine increase to near full power. When the airplane entered the dirt on the right side of the runway, it spun to the left coming to rest facing the opposite direction from its approach to landing.

Postaccident inspection of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that both wings were bent up, the wing flaps were bent, the left wing’s fuel tank was compromised, and the fuselage had several holes in it. On January 25, 2012, the airplane was examined by the FAA inspector and a licensed mechanic. They found the left propeller assembly feathered, and the right propeller blades were bent forward. Examination of the cockpit revealed the both throttle leavers were in the aft/closed position, the propeller control leavers were full forward, and the mixture controls were full rich. The throttle levers in the cockpit exhibited normal operation and friction, but both propeller control levers exhibited little friction and could be moved with one finger’s pressure. The pilot had not reported any malfunctions with the airplane’s engines or their propeller assemblies.

A police video documented that moments after the accident, a police officer suggested that the pilot turn the airplane's electrical power off; the pilot was observed to reenter the accident airplane.

The mechanic suggested that the forward bending of the right propeller blades indicated that the right engine was at a high power setting when it contacted the ground and that the airplane was sliding backwards. Additional, the right wing flaps were bent forward indicating aft movement at the time of terrain contact. The airplane’s nose and main landing gears were examined, and no preimpact anomalies were identified.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain directional control of the airplane during the landing roll.

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