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N4830S accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Westerly, RI
41.366766°N, 71.832847°W

Tail number N4830S
Accident date 05 Sep 1999
Aircraft type Piper PA-32-260
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On September 5, 1999, about 1153 Eastern Daylight Time, a Piper PA-32-260, N4830S, operated by New England Airlines, Inc., was substantially damaged during takeoff from the Westerly State Airport, Westerly, Rhode Island. The certificated airline transport pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Two additional passengers were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the scheduled commuter flight to Block Island, Rhode Island. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 135.

According to a passenger that was seated behind the right front seat passenger, she recalled entering the airplane from the over the wing entrance and climbing into the middle right seat. The pilot did brief the passengers on where the safety card was located and that they should review them. He also briefed on the locations of the life preservers and other safety related items. The pilot then closed the door from where the passenger had entered, but she could not recall him securing the upper latch located on the door. The engine was then started and the airplane was taxied to Runway 07. About halfway to the runway, the pilot stopped the airplane and revved the engine up several times. He then taxied the airplane to the runway, where he revved the engine a second time. The airplane then departed like any other airplane that the passenger had been on before, but it seemed "very shaky."

The passenger further stated that the engine sounded normal to the passenger, with no noticeable hesitations, sputters, bangs, or stoppage. As the airplane climbed, it began to slowly turn to the right, as if it were heading towards Block Island. The pilot then had a concerned look on his face and reached up to an area where the air vents were located. The passenger did recall that the pilot was sweating, by the noticeable perspiration on his head. The pilot then moved his right hand down to an area where the communications and navigation radios were located, and appeared to turn a dial. The pilot then immediately moved his right hand from the radio area to the yoke, gripping the yoke with both hands. The passenger recalled that the yoke then turned about 90 degrees to the left, and the airplane started to bank to the left. As the airplane continued to bank, the passenger did not feel any immediate concern at this point due to the fact that she thought the pilot was going to head back in the direction as they had departed from, "as if they were going to proceed straight out." The airplane continued to bank to the left, and began to descend. The passenger did not recall anything further.

The passenger also added that the engine noises she heard during the flight were "nothing noticeable, except that it was a consistent noise."

The airplane impacted terrain in an open field about 200 feet beyond and to the left of the departure end of Runway 07, and came to rest oriented on a magnetic bearing of 040 degrees.

According to a pilot flying an airplane with a banner attached, he was over Weekapbog, Rhode Island, inbound to WST, when he heard a radio transmission that a "Piper" was going to takeoff on Runway 7. The pilot responded over the radio that he was leaving the shoreline, and was going to enter the airport traffic pattern on the crosswind leg. He then observed the "Piper" lift off the runway normally out the forward left side of his windshield. The "Piper" radioed, "banner tow, I have you in sight." The pilot responded, "I have you also." The "Piper" radioed that he would be going to the southeast. The pilot looked to see the plane again, but he could not see it, and thought that the "Piper" might have taken a right turn towards Block Island. The pilot proceeded to drop off his banner, then came around the pattern a second time, when he saw a white scooter heading towards the departure end of Runway 7. The pilot added that the wind conditions were from the southeast at 10 to 12 knots. The pilot did not feel any windshear at any time during his first approach to the runway or the proceeding landing. The pilot additionally stated that when he was on the crosswind for Runway 7, he was perpendicular to the numbers, about 1,000 feet above the surface. When he saw the "Piper" in front of him, there was about 1/2-mile distance between them. The pilot also stated that to his knowledge, the banner would not droop any less than about 100 feet below the airplane towing it.

A witness, located at the south side of the airport, stated that he heard an airplane takeoff, but did not see it. The airplane had a "normal engine sound to it, nothing sounded abnormal." Moments later the witness heard a loud crash and ran to the scene.

A second witness, located near an open hangar at the north side of the airport, stated that he had seen the airplane from his position looking over the hanger, as it was climbing, about 100-150 feet above the ground. The witness additionally stated that he recalled hearing the engine operating normally.

A third witness, located in a parking lot about one-quarter of a mile from the departure end of the runway, stated that she had heard an airplane in the air, and looked up. She saw the airplane, climbing straight, just above a tree line that was in her view. The engine noise of the airplane then went silent, "very abruptly." About 6 seconds later the engine sound came back. The airplane then began to descend straight down below the same tree line, out of her view.

A fourth witness, located on a golf course south of the airport, stated that he heard an airplane depart at "full throttle." About 10 seconds after first hearing the airplane, the engine abruptly went "full silent," followed 3 seconds later by a series of "crunching" sounds.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 41 degrees, 21 minutes north latitude, and 71 degrees, 48 minutes west longitude, at an elevation of 81 feet mean sea level.


The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and sea, and airplane multiengine land and sea. The pilot also held a flight instructor certificate for airplane single engine land, multi-engine land, and instrument airplane.

The pilot's most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first class medical certificate was issued on April 4, 1999, with no restrictions or limitations.

Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated about 5,259 total flight hours, of which about 202 hours of experience were in the Piper PA-32 series of airplanes. The last documented flight in any Piper PA-32 series airplanes was on August 31, 1999. The last documented flight in a Piper PA-32-260 was on July 8, 1999.

The pilot had received recurrent training in a Piper PA-32-300 on August 31, 1999. The pilot also received an Airman Competency/Proficiency Check on August 31, 1999, and passed with satisfactory results.

The pilot had also flown earlier the day of the accident in a Britten Norman BN2A for about 1 hour.

Additionally, the pilot was employed as a first officer for a regional air carrier that operated Beech 1900D airplanes. The pilot had last flown the Beech 1900D on September 3, 1999.


According to maintenance records, as of September 2, 1999, the airplane had accumulated about 19,792.6 hours of total time in service and the engine had about 8,330.8 hours total time in service.

On July 22, 1999, the engine was reinstalled on the airplane as a "0 Time" engine by the operator, after being serviced by an overhaul facility. On August 3, 1999, the engine was disassembled, and new or overhauled components were installed on the engine. The engine was reassembled and installed on the airplane. At the time of the accident, the engine had accumulated about 76.6 hours. On September 2, 1999, a 100-hour inspection was performed on the engine.


The weather reported on the airport at 1153 was; winds from 090 degrees at 13 knots; 10 statute miles of visibility; scattered clouds at 2,000 and 2,800 feet, and a broken layer of clouds at 3,700 feet.


The wreckage was examined on September 6, 1999, at the accident site.

All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. The main fuselage of the airplane was lying on its left side, with the forward section containing the engine and cockpit area folded under the main passenger cabin area. The right wing was separated from the fuselage at the wing root attachment point, and was rotated downward at an approximate 90-degree angle. All control cables and a fuel line were still connecting the right wing to the fuselage. The right wing main fuel tank exhibited impact damage to the leading edge, and was leaking fuel. The right wing tip tank was not compromised, and contained about 2 gallons of fuel. The left wing, located under the main wreckage, was separated from the wing root. Control cables remained connected to the left wing and fuselage. The left wing main fuel tank and tip tank were both damaged, fuel was only present in the main tank. The horizontal stabilator, attached to its control arm, was bent sideways to the right. The anti-servo trim tab remained attached to all hinges. The outboard left side tip of the stabilator was separated at the rivet line.

The engine was rotated freely through the accessory drive section. Thumb compression and valve train continuity was confirmed to all cylinders. The top spark plugs were removed; their electrodes were intact and light gray in color. The left and right magnetos were removed from the engine and rotated by hand, producing spark on either their leads or towers. The fuel line, connected to the engine driven fuel pump and carburetor, was removed and contained fuel. The carburetor bowl was damaged beyond testing and examination. Continuity for all fuel lines to their respected tank was established by blowing air through the lines. The fuel selector control arm and fuel selector valve, were found at the right tip tank position.

The propeller remained attached to the engine. It exhibited s-bending and chord-wise scarring to both blades.

On September 29, 1999, the wreckage was examined at a recovery facility in Biddeford, Maine. When battery power was applied to the electric auxiliary fuel pump, the motor rotated. When water was poured into the throttle body of the carburetor, and the throttle linkage was moved, water pumped through the accelerator pump outlet in the center of carburetor.


The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Providence, Rhode Island, performed an autopsy on the pilot, on September 5, 1999.

The FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma conducted toxicological testing on the pilot on September 28, 1999. The results were negative.


The airplane wreckage was released on September 6, 1999, to a representative of the owner's insurance company.

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