NTSB Identification: CHI04CA210.
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Accident occurred Saturday, July 31, 2004 in Plymouth, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/28/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-28RT-201T, registration: N77782
Injuries: 1 Minor,2 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The airplane was destroyed during a post-impact ground fire, following a loss of engine power and subsequent forced landing. The pilot reported he had landed and shut down the engine for a few minutes prior to loading his two passengers for a local flight. The pilot stated the airplane contained 35 gallons of fuel prior to the accident flight. The pilot reported the engine "shuddered" during takeoff roll and he aborted the takeoff. The pilot stated he then performed an engine run-up check and the engine "felt fine." The airplane experienced a loss of engine power while on the second takeoff attempt. The pilot stated he maneuvered the airplane to land on a nearby road and it impacted a road sign prior to coming to stop. An on-ground fire engulfed the airplane shortly thereafter. There were no anomalies noted with the engine during a post-accident operational test. The outside temperature at the time of the accident was approximately 28 degrees Celsius. A condition known as vapor lock can occur when engine heats the fuel lines and the contained fuel becomes a vapor. This tendency is increased if the fuel in the tank is warm, commonly as a result of high atmospheric temperatures. The fuel vapor can result in partial or complete interruption of fuel flow to the engine.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The loss of engine power at a low altitude due to a fuel flow restriction caused by vapor lock. Factors to the accident included the high atmospheric temperature and the road sign that the airplane impacted during the forced landing.
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