NTSB Identification: MIA01FA102.
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Accident occurred Friday, March 16, 2001 in PALM COAST, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/06/2002
Aircraft: Piper PA-34-200, registration: N44589
Injuries: 3 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.
A witness, driving westbound, just east of the accident site, reported seeing the aircraft about 5 feet above the trees and heading south, southwest. According to the witness the airplane struck the trees on the east side of a four-lane road, then the median area between the south and northbound lanes. A post impact fire ensued. The pilot/passenger stated that on the downwind leg to runway 24, he observed the pilot-in-command/instructor "...turn the right engine fuel selector to the 'OFF' position," as they turned to "long final, very far from the runway." The flying pilot in the right front seat (second pilot), reduced power on the engines to start a descent, but did not realized he had an engine failure. The pilot/passenger further said, "...he could see the right engine fuel selector in the off position," and the airplane started to "lose" airspeed. He noted the stall warning light coming on, and he said, "...watch the speed...watch the speed." He heard the PIC say to the second pilot, "...he's right, watch the speed." After a few seconds they realized that the airplane was descending "faster" than it was supposed to and the PIC started to shout "Speed...Speed." The PIC took control of the airplane in an attempt to recover from the descent, but the airplane impacted the trees and road. Due to the degree of injury to all three occupants, none were able to talk with investigators; however, the PIC's wife revealed to the NTSB investigator-in-charge that her husband told her there were "...no mechanical problems with the airframe or engines." Examination of the wreckage confirmed that the right engine fuel selector was in the "OFF" position in the cockpit and at the wing selector valve. The right propeller was found in the "feathered" position. No visual pre-impact discrepancies were noted on the airframe, flight controls or engines. An FAA inspector stated that the FAA has determined that the pilot that was seated in the left front seat at the time of the accident was the pilot-in-command/instructor.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the second pilot's failure to maintain Vmc during a single engine approach resulting in a loss of control in flight and subsequent collision with objects and terrain during an uncontrolled descent. Contributing to the accident was the PIC turning the right engine fuel selector to the off position to simulate an engine failure, and the PIC's inadequate supervision of the second pilot.
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