NTSB Identification: NYC98FA009.
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Accident occurred Saturday, October 11, 1997 in MORGANVILLE, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/15/1999
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-180, registration: N3981T
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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.

The pilot took off in the vicinity of the airplane's maximum gross weight and cleared 50 foot high trees 75 feet beyond the end of the runway. The airplane completed a right 180 degree turn, descended, and collided with trees with the retractable landing gear still extended. Maintenance records revealed that the number 4 cylinder had been removed due to low compression 295 hours before the accident to replace an exhaust valve, and again 76 hours before the accident due to low compression to reface the valves. Examination of the engine revealed the number 4 cylinder fuel injector nozzle was partially obstructed. An annual inspection was performed on the airplane between the two removals of the number 4 cylinder, by the maintenance facility performing the engine maintenance. The landing gear had been written up by pilots on five occasions in the 3 months prior to the accident, for not retracting after takeoff, and the airplane continued to be flown with the write-ups. The last write-up occurred 7 days prior to the accident and remained open. Maintenance was performed on the landing gear system after the last write-up and not documented in the airplane's logbooks.

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

The inadequate maintenance by the flying club and maintenance facility, which resulted in a takeoff with a partially blocked fuel injector nozzle and the failure of the landing gear to retract after takeoff. This resulted in the pilot's diverted attention and the subsequent stall.

Full narrative available

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