NTSB Identification: CHI01FA146.
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Accident occurred Monday, May 28, 2001 in Osage Beach, MO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/02/2002
Aircraft: Piper PA-24-250, registration: N7331P
Injuries: 3 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.

During a forced landing the airplane stalled and impacted trees and terrain. Witnesses to the accident reported that the engine was running rough and intermittently prior to the accident. A global positioning system (GPS) receiver was recovered at the accident site and its track data was downloaded. The recovered GPS data showed the airplane's ground speed was between 73.7 - 79.8 mph during the last 10 seconds of data. The stall speed for the accident airplane with flaps retracted is 70 mph. Post-accident fuel samples taken from the fuel strainer and both electric fuel pumps were contaminated with water and particulate. Both electric fuel pumps contained rust, water, and particulate. The carburetor float bowl and accelerator pump-well were contaminated with fine particulate resembling silicon sand. The same fine particulate was observed in the carburetor idle tube passage and nozzle well. Fuel samples taken from the right main fuel cell and fuel selector were clear of debris and water. A fuel sample obtained from the departure airport was clear of debris and water. The accident airplane had been operated approximately 164 hours in the last 35 years, 47 hours in the last 15 years, 35 hours in the last 5 years, and 35 hours in the last year. According to Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR), the pilot-in-command is required to complete an aircraft preflight inspection in order to determine if the aircraft is in an airworthy condition. According to FAA AC 20-43C, "Fuel having a 'cloudy' appearance or definitely 'offcolor' should be suspected of contamination or deterioration and should not be used." According to Airplane Flying Handbook, "Significant and/or consistent water or sediment contamination are grounds for further investigation by qualified maintenance personnel. Each fuel tank sump should be drained during preflight and after refueling."

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

Aircraft control not being maintained by the pilot during the forced landing and inadequate preflight inspection performed by the pilot. Contributing factors to the accident were the fuel system contamination that resulted in the loss of engine power, the encountered stall, and trees.

Full narrative available

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