NTSB Identification: LAX08FA023.
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Accident occurred Sunday, October 28, 2007 in Palm Springs, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/28/2008
Aircraft: Cessna 172S, registration: N21101
Injuries: 1 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.
The certified flight instructor (CFI) and student were on a local instructional flight that included touch-and-go landings in the vicinity of the uncontrolled airport. The airplane took off to the west, returned, and performed a touch-and-go in the opposite direction, then made two sharp 90-degree turns to line up with the western runway again. The airplane did a touch-and-go, and appeared to climb at a very steep angle. Witnesses indicated that it appeared to be fully silhouetted in plan view against the sky when viewed from behind. The airplane subsequently turned to the right and dropped to the ground. The student pilot survived the accident, and said he was instructed by the CFI to fly down the runway just high enough so that the wheels would not touch. The student then pulled up to the appropriate takeoff attitude, but most likely failed to apply takeoff power, and the CFI failed to respond to the situation before the airplane was in a nose high, stalled condition in which there was not sufficient altitude to recover safely. The CFI's postmortem blood ethanol level was 0.31%, a level that would render a nontolerant individual unconscious, or nearly so. This level of tolerance suggests a minimum period of weeks or months of sustained increased alcohol intake, rather than a single binge event, particularly given that witnesses saw the instructor consume alcohol before the flight, a prior DUI conviction, and the liver cirrhosis found during the autopsy. The CFI's judgment and performance were undoubtedly impaired by alcohol. The CFI had reported to the FAA his prior DUI, but the FAA did not request details, nor require an additional substance dependence evaluation.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The flight instructor's failure to maintain sufficient airspeed to avoid a stall during takeoff-initial climb, and his impairment from alcohol. Full narrative available
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