NTSB Identification: FTW97LA206.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 27, 1997 in GREELEY, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-31-350, registration: N491SC
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot said that while in cruise flight, he observed the left front portion of the left engine cowling starting to come loose. After receiving clearance from air traffic control, he started to divert to the nearest suitable airport. Shortly thereafter, the left cowling completely separated from the aircraft and struck the vertical stabilizer. Postaccident inspection disclosed the outboard cowling latches were in the UNLOCKED position, and the inboard latches were in the LOCKED position. A portion of the cowling remained attached via the inboard latches. The pilot said he checked the cowling latches during his preflight inspection and they were all in the LOCKED position. Orange stripes had been painted across the latches to visually indicate LOCKED and UNLOCKED positions.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

unlatching of the left outboard engine cowling latches for undetermined reason(s), which allowed the left engine cowling to separate inflight and strike the vertical stabilizer.

Full narrative available

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