NTSB Identification: MIA00FA163.
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Accident occurred Friday, May 19, 2000 in TITUSVILLE, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/17/2001
Aircraft: Piper PA-23-160, registration: N3492P
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

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.

According to an eyewitness, the tower controller at Space Coast Regional Airport, Titusville, Florida, (TIX), who was controlling the flight in the landing pattern, when the airplane approached the right pattern abeam-of-landing point to runway 09, it abruptly entered a wings vertical attitude and dove for the ground. The CFI, the survivor, stated postcrash, that he was giving dual check-out procedures to the rated Commercial MEL pilot who was flying. When the CFI zero-thrusted the right engine in preparation for single engine landing practice, the aircraft abruptly entered a half roll to the left, pitched down, and collided with the terrain. Postcrash examination of the engines, airframe, and their components revealed nothing causal. The CFI stated he was not 'on the controls with the pilot' and did not know what control pressures he may have been applying. He also stated that outflow from nearby power plant smoke stacks and a recent runway change from 27 to 09 may have contributed to turbulence or air instability. Two tower controllers, one with 23 years experience at the TIX airport, and the other with 19 years at the TIX airport, stated that neither of them have ever heard an aircraft in the pattern complain of smoke stack generated air instability.

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

The failure of the PIC to maintain control of the aircraft while in the simulated engine inoperative configuration in the landing pattern during a checkout flight resulting in an uncontrolled descent and collision with trees. A factor in the accident is the inadequate monitoring of aircraft control by the checkout pilot.

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