NTSB Identification: NYC00FA001.
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Accident occurred Saturday, October 02, 1999 in CALDWELL, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/02/2001
Aircraft: Cessna 401B, registration: N88VA
Injuries: 3 Serious,5 Minor.

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 aborted the takeoff run after the airspeed indication rose to about 80 miles per hour, but would not go any higher. He could not stop the airplane, before it went off the end of the runway, over a berm, and into a drainage ravine. When the airplane was pulled out of the ravine, both pitot covers were still in place, around the pitot tubes. The runway was 4,553 feet long, calculated takeoff distance was about 2,525 feet, and calculated accelerate-stop distance was approximately 2,950 feet. Tire skid marks started around 3,600 feet from the approach end of the runway, and led to the wreckage. About a year earlier, another airplane was destroyed when it ran into the same ravine, which was located about 200 feet from the end of the runway.

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

The pilot's inadequate preflight, which resulted in an attempted takeoff with the pitot covers installed. An additional cause was the pilot's delayed decision to abort the takeoff, while factors included the misleading airspeed indications, and the proximity of the drainage ravine to the end of the runway.

Full narrative available

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