Opa-Locka, FL, USA
During climbout after takeoff while flying at an airspeed greater than 80 mph, the certified flight instructor (CFI) and pilot rated student reported that the landing gear would not retract. The CFI checked the cockpit trying to troubleshoot the problem and after looking outside, realized the airplane was very low. The airplane impacted grass on the north side of the runway causing the left main landing gear to separate and the nose and right main landing gears to collapse. The airplane came to rest upright and a small postcrash fire damaged the rear portion of the engine. Examination of the airplane following recovery revealed the landing gear selector handle was in the up position, and only the landing light circuit breaker was tripped/popped. Testing of the diaphragm of the landing gear auto extend system revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. When electrical power was applied to the airplane and the landing gear selector handle was placed in the down position, components of the landing gears moved towards the down position. The airplane "Owner's Handbook" indicates the pressure sensing device in the landing gear system prevents "...the gear from retracting at airspeeds below approximately 85 mph with full power, though the selector switch may be in the up position. This speed increases with reduced power and/or increased altitude." The handbook also indicates, "Manual override of the device is provided by an emergency gear lever located between the front seats to the left of the flap handle. The emergency gear lever, when held in the raised position, can be used to override the system, and gear position is controlled by the selector switch regardless of airspeed/power combinations."
On November 6, 2005, about 1613 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28R-180, N4652J, registered to and operated by Palmetto Sales & Leasing, Inc., dba Air Repair, Inc., crashed during takeoff at Opa-Locka Airport, Opa-Locka, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 local, instructional flight. The airplane was substantially damaged and there were no injuries to the certified flight instructor (CFI), pilot-rated student, or rear seat observer. The flight was originating at the time of the accident. The CFI stated that the purpose of the flight was for him to give the pilot-rated student a complex airplane check-out and endorsement. They performed a complete review of the Pilot's Operating Handbook and he instructed the student on the constant-speed propeller and retractable landing gear system. The only irregularity noted during the preflight inspection was the electric pitch trim was inoperative. After starting the engine, they taxied to the approach end of runway 9L where an engine run-up was performed. During the engine run-up while operating only the right magneto, they noted the engine was operating rough; this condition was corrected by leaning the fuel to air ratio. The flight was cleared by air traffic control for takeoff from the end of the runway, and during the takeoff roll while at 81 mph, he instructed the private-rated student to rotate the airplane. The airplane became airborne and when "... we had used most of the runway, the [airplane] was climbing all seemed normal. We raised the gear, nothing happened. I inspected the gear lever it appeared to be correct for gear up. I checked the circuit breakers and all were in still 3 green light." He inspected the emergency gear quadrant and found nothing "improper." At that time the student called for trim but did not specify a direction. He reported that when he was through looking for a solution to the landing gear issue, "I looked out and saw we were already in big trouble we were very low, full power, high rpm, full rich, fuel pump on fuel selector was on." At that time, they were in a slight nose-high attitude and were losing airspeed fast. Almost immediately they were on the ground and, "... we got out turning off everything in the plane." The fire department responded and extinguished a small grass fire located in the engine compartment area. The pilot-rated student reported that during the takeoff roll when the airspeed was at 80 mph, which was 10 mph more than required for takeoff, he rotated the aircraft and began to climb. The vertical speed indicator showed a positive rate-of-climb (300 to 400 feet per minute), the airspeed was "... indicating 80 plus mph and the attitude indicator showed him no more than 10 degrees of pitch." They then attempted to retract the landing gear, which failed to retract. At the same instant while flying at approximately 200 feet, the airplane "...refused to maintain a climb with an airspeed of 80 mph, the aircraft then began to descend." He was not able to verify the readings on the tachometer or the manifold pressure gauge. The CFI took the controls but the landing gear collapsed on impact and the airplane skid for approximately 50 feet. The rear seat occupant reported to an NTSB investigator during an interview that during the initial climb he heard through the headset the CFI call for the landing gear to be retracted. He felt the hydraulic pump start to work at that time. He heard the CFI say the landing gear was not retracting or words to that effect, and also reported that the pitch of the airplane remained the same. About 20 to 30 seconds into the flight he observed two sudden drops in altitude. He looked outside, noticed they were losing altitude and were going to impact the ground. He added that the sound of the engine never changed from the time of takeoff to the time of impact. After airport emergency response personnel extinguished a small fire caused by the exhaust pipe, he then "reached inside the cockpit and turned off the battery and fuel tank selector." The airplane came to rest upright, heading approximately 180 degrees in grass north runway 9L, near the departure end of the runway. The left main landing gear was located along the wreckage path in the grass. A small postcrash fire damaged the aft portion of the engine and engine compartment area. The airplane was recovered for further examination. Examination of the airplane following recovery was performed by a representative of the airplane manufacturer with NTSB oversight. The examination of the airplane revealed the nose and right main landing gears were collapsed. Examination of the cockpit revealed the landing gear selector was in the up position, and only the landing light circuit breaker was tripped/popped. Electrical power was applied to the airplane and when the landing gear selector handle was placed in the down position, movement of all landing gear actuators in the proper direction was noted. Testing of the automatic gear extension system revealed that the system's diaphragm was operational. Examination of the engine with NTSB oversight revealed the propeller remained secure to the engine, which remained secured to the airframe. Both propeller blades were bent and curled aft about 12 inches, chordwise scratches were noted on the cambered side of both propeller blades. Crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity was confirmed. Differential compression performed on the cold engine using 80 psi revealed all cylinders had readings over 60 psi. The No. 3 cylinder when first tested indicated 44 psi; however, the reading increased to 60 psi after the exhaust valve was "staked." Continuity of the throttle, propeller, and mixture controls was noted from the cockpit to the engine compartment. The timing of the left and right magnetos were 25 and 30 degrees before top center (BTC) (specification is 25 degrees BTC). No discrepancies were noted with the engine-driven fuel pump or auxiliary fuel pump during testing/examination. The flexible fuel line between the servo fuel injector and flow divider, and the fuel selector valve were free of obstructions. Fuel was noted inside the gascolator bowl, and the fuel selector valve operationally tested satisfactory. Both magnetos produced spark at all ignition leads when rotated using by mechanical means. The servo fuel injector (fuel servo), flow divider, fuel injector nozzles and fuel injector lines were retained for further examination. Examination and bench testing of the 4 fuel injector nozzles, flow divider, and fuel servo was performed at the manufacturers facility with FAA oversight. Bench testing of the fuel servo revealed it flowed 4.2 pounds-per-hour (pph) less than test specification at test point 1, was within limits at test points 2, 3, 6, and 9. The unit flowed .5 pph greater than test specification at test point 4, and flowed .7 pph greater than test specification at test point 7. Disassembly of the fuel servo following bench testing revealed the fuel inlet screen was clear, and a small amount of contamination was noted on the metered side of the fuel diaphragm. Bench testing of the flow divider revealed all but the No. 2 port flowed within limits. The No. 2 port flowed 84 percent (specification is 90 to 100 percent). Bench testing of the fuel injector nozzles revealed all except the No. 3 nozzle flowed within limits. The No. 3 nozzle flowed 30.7 pph (specification is 31.4 to 32.6 pph), and a slight wobble to the flow stream was noted. According to the airplane "Owner's Handbook", the pressure sensing device in the landing gear system prevents "...the gear from retracting at airspeeds below approximately 85 mph with full power, though the selector switch may be in the up position. This speed increases with reduced power and/or increased altitude." The handbook also indicates, "Manual override of the device is provided by an emergency gear lever located between the front seats to the left of the flap handle. The emergency gear lever, when held in the raised position, can be used to override the system, and gear position is controlled by the selector switch regardless of airspeed/power combinations." The airplane minus the retained parts was released to the airplane owner/operator on January 27, 2006. All NTSB retained components were released to the owner/operator on March 1, 2006.
The failure of the pilot-in-command/CFI to maintain control of the airplane and his inattentiveness to the altitude while troubleshooting the landing gear system resulting in the in-flight collision with terrain.
Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database
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