NTSB Identification: CHI93LA184.
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Accident occurred Thursday, May 27, 1993 in ELY, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/17/1994
Aircraft: PIPER PA-23-160, registration: N3333P
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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 REPORTED THE LEFT ENGINE LOST POWER WHILE THE FLIGHT WAS CRUISING AT 7,000' MSL. HE SAID HE FEATHERED THE LEFT PROP, BUT CONTINUED TO LOSE ALTITUDE. HE WAS UNABLE TO MAINTAIN ALTITUDE, AND MADE A FORCED LANDING INTO TREE TOPS. THE PILOT REPORTED THAT THE AIRPLANE'S MAIN LANDING GEAR HAD KEPT 'SAGGING' THROUGHOUT THE FLIGHT, AND HE WAS REQUIRED TO PLACE THE MAIN GEAR SELECTOR IN THE 'UP' POSITION EVERY 3 TO 5 MINUTES. HE SAID THE GEAR PROBLEM WAS APPARENTLY CAUSED BY A SLOW LEAK IN THE HYDRAULIC SYSTEM, AND THAT IT HAD BEEN SCHEDULED FOR REPAIR. HE WROTE IN HIS REPORT TO THE NTSB: 'IN RETROSPECT, I BELIEVE THIS SEEMINGLY MINOR PROBLEM MAY HAVE BEEN OF CRITICAL SIGNIFICANCE IN CAUSING THIS PROBLEM...I MAY HAVE BEEN ABLE TO RECOGNIZE THIS AS THE SOURCE OF DRAG...AND AVOID THE CRASH-LANDING.' AN EXAMINATION OF THE LEFT ENGINE AFTER THE ACCIDENT DISCLOSED WATER AND DEBRIS IN THE FUEL SYSTEM AND BLACKENED SPARK PLUGS.

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

the pilot's decision to continue flight with a known deficiency in the airplane's hydraulic system. Factors associated with the accident are the loss of power in the left engine due to fuel contamination, and a leak in the hydraulic system.

Full narrative available

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