NTSB Identification: NYC00LA055.
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Sunday, December 19, 1999 in MORRISTOWN, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/13/2001
Aircraft: Piper PA-30, registration: N7397Y
Injuries: 2 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.

While taking off, the pilot rotated the airplane at a speed below Vmc. As the airplane began to climb, the pilot and passenger, who was a certificated multi-engine flight instructor, observed the stall warning light illuminate, and the pilot lowered the nose to attain Vyse. The right engine then began to loose power. The pilot applied full power to the left engine, along with left rudder and the passenger retracted the landing gear. The airplane banked to the right and descended to the ground. The pilot additionally stated, 'The airplane just did not get enough speed up,' and suspected that the engine failure was from water in the fuel system. Prior to flight the pilot and passenger observed 'a little bit' of water on the asphalt, which came from the right side fuel drain when the airplane was pre-flight inspected. After the accident, a FAA inspector examined the area where the airplane was pre-flight inspected and did not observe any fuel stains on the asphalt. The airplane was last flown 30 days prior to the accident. A FAA Airworthiness Directive stated that to eliminate water contamination of the aircraft fuel supply, an inspection was required at each 50 hours of operation. Maintenance records dated after September 16, 1997 did not reveal any compliance of the AD, and the airplane had accumulated about 281 hours of operation. The airplane owner's manual stated, 'Accelerate to single engine minimum control speed (Vmc) before applying stronger back pressure for rotation.' The owner's manual also stated that, 'On take-off the aircraft should be kept either on, or near the runway, until reaching Vmc.' The FAA Airplane Flying Handbook (AFH), stated, 'If the airplane has just become airborne and the airspeed is at or below Vmc when the engine fails, the pilot could avoid a serious accident by retarding both throttles immediately. If this action is not taken immediately, the pilot will be unable to control the airplane.' It additionally stated, 'THE AIRPLANE SHOULD NEVER LEAVE THE GROUND BEFORE Vmc IS REACHED. Preferably, Vmc + 5 knots should be attained.' The AFH also stated, 'Sufficient fuel should be drained from the fuel strainer quick drain and from each fuel tank sump to check for fuel grade/color, water, dirt, and smell. If water is found in the first fuel sample, further samples should be taken until no water appears.'

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

The pilot's failure to obtain proper takeoff airspeed and his failure to follow published emergency procedures. Factors related to the accident were the pilot's inadequate preflight and water contamination of the fuel system.

Full narrative available

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