NTSB Identification: WPR09FA015
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 16, 2008 in Markleeville, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/19/2009
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28R-201T, registration: N9581C
Injuries: 1 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.

The pilot was in cruise flight on a southerly heading at 13,700 feet mean sea level (msl), and initiated a 180-degree climbing left turn to 14,500 feet. He reported to air traffic control (ATC) that the engine was “missing badly,” and he was returning to his home airport. One minute later, he reported a complete loss of engine power. The pilot decided that he could not make his home base, and elected to head for an alternate airport with ATC guidance. The pilot indicated to ATC that he did not have the airport in sight and was trying to locate it with his global positioning satellite system (GPS). The last recorded radar position was 2.9 miles southeast of the airport and 6,200 feet above field elevation with the airplane on a northerly track. The airplane collided with trees 1.9 miles northwest of the airport while on a southerly heading. While maneuvering, the pilot overflew suitable, unobstructed places to land. Post accident download of an engine data management system displayed stable conditions initially followed by fluctuations in the fuel flow, as well as fluctuations of all six exhaust gas temperature (EGT) and cylinder head temperature (CHT) indications. Over the next two minutes, the readings smoothed out, and then the fuel flow increased while the EGT and CHT dropped to low values indicative of a loss of power. The engine was inspected and prepared for an engine run in a test cell. After replacing several damaged parts including the fuel pump, the engine started easily and ran smoothly throughout its entire power range with no anomalies discovered. The reasons for the fluctuations to the fuel flow, EGT and CHT were not determined.

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

A loss of engine power for undetermined reasons. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to choose a suitable landing area.

Full narrative available

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