NTSB Identification: MIA01FA126.
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Accident occurred Thursday, April 19, 2001 in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/23/2002
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-300, registration: N4103R
Injuries: 4 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.
Before departure, the airplane was fueled and the pilot was observed loading cargo into the airplane; the airplane held a total of 77 gallons of fuel at the time of engine start. The airplane rotated about the "Delta" intersection and approximately 1 minute 36 seconds after the controller cleared the flight to takeoff, the tower controller asked the pilot is she was experiencing any difficulty, to which she replied, "slightly uh i may have to circle." The tower controller and an FAA employee both noted that the airplane was porpoising at a point approximately 6,000 feet down the 9,000 foot runway; the airplane was at between 80 and 100 feet agl. The flight crew of a U.S. Airways flight next in line for takeoff reported that the airplane never climbed higher than approximately 300 feet agl, and began drifting to the left. The flight continued and when near the end of the runway, a witness later reported that the engine sounded like it was operating at full throttle and the airplane was porpoising. A witness near the accident site reported that the engine was surging and the airplane pitched nose-up, then banked to the left in about a 45-degree angle of bank. The airplane then pitched nose down followed by impact with trees then the ground. Witnesses near the accident site reported hearing discrepancies related to the engine immediately before the airplane pitched nose down. Examination of the engine, and flight controls revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. The forward baggage compartment was found to contain cargo that weighed a total of approximately 244 pounds; the limitation is 100 pounds. The remaining cargo scattered throughout the airplane and/or located outside the airplane weighed a total of approximately 211 pounds. The NTSB has not talked with the pilot nor received the NTSB report form sent to the attorney representing the pilot and airplane owner. As a result, since the exact placement of cargo could not be determined, all cargo except that located in the forward baggage compartment was placed in the aft baggage compartment for calculation purposes. An individual did note cargo in the aft portion of the cabin before the flight departed. At the time of takeoff, the airplane was approximately 8 pounds under gross weight and was greater than 4 inches forward of the forward center of gravity limit. The center of gravity moved further forward when some of the cargo that was found in the cockpit and cabin was placed in the cabin, instead of all being placed in the aft baggage compartment for calculation purposes. Personnel from the airplane manufacturer would not comment on the flight characteristics of an airplane being operated outside the center of gravity envelope. Analysis of voice transmissions was negative for determination of engine/propeller rpm and any of the times of communication from the pilot. Testing of fuel from the facility that fueled the airplane indicated the fuel met specification. The pilot had agreements with at least one individual and one company that paid her a yearly fee to transport mail to and from the Bahamas. Additionally, the FAA reported the pilot was carrying property for compensation or hire contrary to 14 CFR Part 119.5(g). The pilot advised an individual in the Bahamas that he did not have to speak to FAA if the FAA made an inquiry.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's exceeding the forward center of gravity (CG) ) limits at the time of engine start, the inability of the pilot to control the airplane due to the exceeded CG limits, the failure of the pilot to abort the takeoff with sufficient runway remaining, and the inadvertent stall by the pilot while maneuvering shortly after takeoff. Full narrative available
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