NTSB Identification: MIA01FA072.
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Accident occurred Thursday, February 08, 2001 in Ponce, PR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/02/2002
Aircraft: Piper PA-30, registration: N181MM
Injuries: 1 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.

Witnesses observed the pilot having trouble starting the right engine after refueling. Once the right engine was started it made a popping sound. The pilot proceeded to taxi to the runway and takeoff with the right engine still making a popping sound. The airplane was observed to climb to about 250 to 300 feet with the landing gear still extended. The airplane then began to descend and turn to the right. After turning to a downwind position, the airplane rolled rapidly to the right and descended, impacting the ground in a near vertical attitude. Postcrash examination showed the left propeller was rotating during impact and there was no evidence of failure or malfunction of the left engine. The right propeller showed no evidence of rotating under power at ground impact and the propeller blades were locked on the start latches at the 18 degree position. No evidence of failure or malfunction of the right propeller or propeller governor was found. The right engine assembly showed no evidence of precrash failure or malfunction. The right engine fuel servo had a bent regulator stem which caused sticking of the fuel regulator and abnormal fuel mixtures. The right fuel selector was found off after the accident and the mixture, throttle and propeller controls for the right engine were found in the low midrange position. The landing gear and landing gear control were found in the landing gear extended position. The wing flaps were retracted. The checklist for engine failure requires the pilot to retract the landing gear, maintain at least the single engine minimum control speed, and shutdown the failed engine and feather the propeller.

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

The pilot's decision to attempt flight with known deficiencies in the airplanes right engine, his failure to feather the right propeller after the engine failed , his failure to retract the landing gear following the engine failure, and his failure to maintain minimum single engine control speed (Vmc), resulting in loss of control of the airplane and impact with the ground during an uncontrolled descent.

Full narrative available

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