NTSB Identification: DEN01LA093.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Friday, April 27, 2001 in St. George, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/16/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-31-350, registration: N27367
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The pilot departed on runway 16, which is located on a narrow mesa (the surrounding terrain is 300 to 350 feet below). He said that immediately after takeoff, he experienced a loss of power on the right engine. The pilot feathered the propeller on the left engine and performed a forced landing. He had raised the landing gear with runway left to land on. The FAA Advisory Circular 61-21A, Flight Training Handbook states that the landing gear should not be raised until a safe landing can no longer be made on the remaining portion of the runway. Postaccident examination of both engines revealed no mechanical anomalies which might have affected their performance. Recovery personnel reported that both propellers were "dramatically" bent in the opposite direction of rotation. Additionally they found that the right wing root fuel sump valve was installed improperly, and was impossible to sump. When they removed the valve, they found that the fuel sample was approximately 25% water. The wind, at the time of the attempted takeoff, was 130 degrees at 21 gusting to 31 knots. The direct crosswind was calculated to be 16 knots, which was within the airplane's demonstrated crosswind limit of 20 knots.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the pilot's failure to sump all the fuel drains during preflight and the subsequent loss of power in the right engine during takeoff, the pilot feathering the wrong engine's propeller during the forced landing, the pilot improperly raising the landing gear with usable runway in front of him, and lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing. Contributing factors were the water in the fuel, the terrain induced turbulent cross wind condition, and the mountainous/hilly terrain for the forced landing.
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