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N3AG accident description

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Crash location 36.210556°N, 115.194444°W
Nearest city North Las Vegas, NV
36.198859°N, 115.117501°W
4.4 miles away
Tail number N3AG
Accident date 02 Jan 2013
Aircraft type Piper PA-60-602P
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On January 2, 2013, about 1515 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-60-602P, N3AG, veered off the runway during landing at North Las Vegas, Nevada. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot receiving instruction and the flight instructor were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage from a post-crash fire. The local instructional flight departed North Las Vegas about 1430. Visual meteorological (VMC) conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot remained in the traffic pattern after departure, and completed three full-stop landings without incident; one was on runway 12R, and the other two were on runway 12L. As prearranged with the flight instructor prior to departure, the fourth takeoff was a simulated left engine failure about 600 feet above ground level (agl). The pilot followed emergency procedures, used the checklist, and prepared to land.

About 50-100 feet agl on final, the pilot felt that the airplane was a little too high, and elected to initiate a go-around. The propeller and mixture controls were already full forward. Movement of the throttle levers full forward resulted in neither engine increasing in power. The flight instructor pushed the nose down. The airplane shuddered about 15 feet agl, but did not stall. The pilot pulled the nose back before touchdown, and landed on the main landing gear. He stated that touchdown was not hard; it felt like a normal landing. The right wing went down immediately as if the right main landing gear had collapsed, and the airplane veered off the runway into a ditch in the infield.

The flight instructor noted that the airplane was on fire. The pilot shut down all power and the fuel mixture. It took three vigorous tries to open the upper clamshell door before the pilot and flight instructor could egress. Within a few moments of their exit, the airplane caught fire.

An airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic was working on the airport ramp. The A&P heard an airplane coming in for landing, and noted that the engine sounds were increasing and decreasing. He observed an airplane porpoising, and coming in fast. He thought that the airplane landed hard; the right main landing gear and nose landing gear collapsed on touchdown. The airplane caught fire within 40 to 50 feet after touchdown; it started sliding, and then it exited the runway surface.

The axle of the right main landing gear strut with the lower link still bolted to it was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Office of Research and Engineering Materials Laboratory for examination.

A fractured piece of the piston was contained in the axle, and a portion of a fractured bolt was contained at the lower link connection to the upper link. Examination of the piston's fracture face revealed that it was oriented diagonally to the strut center line, and displayed a grainy surface with shear lips, consistent with a bending overload event. The fracture face on the lower link to upper link attachment bolt displayed grainy surfaces in a cup and cone formation with a distinct shear lip oriented in one direction, also consistent with a bending overload event.

Due to the postaccident fire damage, examination of the engines failed to reveal the reason why they did not respond to power input.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot’s failure to maintain an adequate descent rate while on final approach, which resulted in a hard landing and landing gear collapse due to overload following the failure of both engines to respond to power inputs during an attempted go-around for reasons that could not be determined due to postcrash fire damage.

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