NTSB Identification: LAX94FA159.
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Accident occurred Friday, March 11, 1994 in LOS ANGELES, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/24/1995
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-180, registration: N8129W
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
DURING INITIAL CLIMB AT 300 FEET AGL, THE UPPER COWL RAISED UP BETWEEN 1 AND 2 INCHES. THE PILOT REPORTED HE STAYED IN THE PATTERN. ON BASE LEG, THE UPPER COWL DISLODGED FURTHER FROM THE ACFT AND PRODUCED DRAG. UNABLE TO MAINTAIN ALTITUDE, A FORCED LANDING WAS MADE DURING WHICH THE ACFT COLLIDED WITH POWER LINES AND HOMES 1/2 MILE FROM THE RUNWAY. PRIOR TO THE FLIGHT, THE PILOT, WHO OWNED THE ACFT AND WHO WORKED AS AN A & P MECHANIC, HAD REMOVED AND PARTIALLY REPLACED THE ENGINE COWL. A FRIEND OF THE PILOT, WHO ALSO HELD AN A & P CERTIFICATE AND WAS A PILOT, ASSISTED BY PLACING THE LEFT SIDE OF THE UPPER COWL BACK ON THE ENGINE COMPARTMENT. THE SURVIVING PILOT REPORTED THAT HE HAD NOT OBSERVED THE PILOT-RATED PASSENGER PHYSICALLY SECURE THE LEFT SIDE OF THE UPPER COWL TO THE ENGINE COMPARTMENT. DURING THE WRECKAGE EXAM, ALL OF THE FIRE-DAMAGED COWL STRUCTURE WAS FOUND AT THE CRASH SITE EXCEPT FOR THE TWO FORWARD-POINTED UPPER COWL ENGAGEMENT PINS AND THEIR SUPPORTING STRUCTURE. ALSO NOT FOUND WAS THE NYLON GROMMET/BUSHING WHICH NORMALLY WAS SEATED IN THE LOWER COWL'S LEFT SIDE FORWARD PLATE ASSEMBLY.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the failure of the upper engine compartment cowl to remain attached to the lower cowl during initial climb as a result of inadequate maintenance and replacement practices by the aircraft owner. Full narrative available
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