NTSB Identification: SEA02LA186.
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Accident occurred Saturday, September 28, 2002 in Spokane, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/08/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161, registration: N132ND
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


The flight instructor told his student to make his landing on the second centerline stripe of the runway. After turning final, the student established a stabilized approach at the correct airspeed, but with a glideslope that would take him past the desired second stripe touchdown point. Because runway length was not a critical factor, the instructor decided to let the student continue on the higher than desired glideslope so that he would learn that it would take him past the desired point of touchdown. Reportedly, when the aircraft was still about 20 feet above the runway surface, the student reduced the power to idle and started to flare prematurely, and the aircraft ultimately leveled off about 10 feet above the runway. The instructor then advised the student that they were too high, and that if they landed from that height "...it would be rough." The student therefore added power (about one-quarter throttle) and lowered the nose in order to descend to a point closer to the runway. Soon after starting to make this adjustment, the student flared a second time, and the aircraft fell to the runway surface from an altitude that was still too high. As the aircraft began to fall toward the runway, the instructor reached for the throttle in order to initiate a go-around, but just as he made contact with it, the aircraft impacted the runway with sufficient force to result in substantial damage. At that point, the instructor took control of the aircraft, completed the landing sequence, and then taxied to an area where the aircraft could be checked for damage. According to the instructor, there was no indication of any problem with the engine or flight control system that would have contributed to the accident, and the FAA Inspector who looked at the aircraft did not find evidence of any such anomaly.

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

The flight instructor's delay of the remedial action necessary to correct for the student pilot's error during the landing flare. Factors include the student pilot's misjudgment of the aircraft's height above the runway when he initiated the flare.

Full narrative available

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