NTSB Identification: ERA09FA345
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 14, 2009 in Scotia, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/19/2009
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28R-180, registration: N3226R
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.

The flight instructor and student pilot were taking off from a 1,840-foot long grass runway located next to a river. The instructor and student pilot did not extend the flaps to 25 degrees as required by the Owner’s Handbook for takeoff from a soft surface runway. Witnesses stated that the airplane became airborne two times on the takeoff roll. A witness further stated, "He continued to roll further pulling the airplane into the air for a third time." The airplane lifted off the runway, settled into the river, and sank. The manufacturer's performance charts based on the weather conditions at the accident site revealed the ground run required for takeoff on a hard surface, without flaps extended, is about 1,350 feet. Takeoff from a grassy surface would require a significantly longer distance. Examination of the airframe, flight controls, engine assembly, and accessories revealed no evidence of a precrash mechanical failure or malfunction. The landing gear was found extended at the accident site. After some preparation, the engine was started, warmed up, advanced to full power, run continuously without hesitation, and subsequently shut down.

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

The flight instructor's failure to ensure that the airplane was properly configured for a short field takeoff, and his decision to not abort the takeoff.

Full narrative available

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