NTSB Identification: ERA10LA055
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, November 08, 2009 in Luray, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/06/2010
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N738CD
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 private pilot/owner used a checklist to conduct a preflight inspection of the airplane and did not note any anomalies. She started the engine, taxied to the fuel dock, and filled both fuel tanks. Her inspection of fuel samples from the two wing drains and the gascolator did not reveal any contaminants. After she conducted the engine run-up she determined that everything was normal with the airplane, then "applied full power" and "rotated [about] 50-52" knots. However, the airplane "did not want to climb," and she reconfirmed that the engine indications were appropriate and that the flaps were retracted. She aborted the takeoff and steered the airplane off the side of the runway in order to avoid the drop-off at the end of the runway. A pilot-rated witness reported that he did not observe an engine run-up and that the airplane became airborne two separate times before the takeoff was aborted. The airplane struck a fence, descended a grassy embankment, and came to rest. No mechanical deficiencies or other anomalies that could account for the accident were detected with the airplane. The airplane manufacturer's normal takeoff procedure specifies that the pilot should lift the nosewheel at 55 knots and climb out at a speed between 70 and 80 knots. The aerodynamic phenomenon known as ground effect likely enabled the airplane to become airborne at a speed less than the manufacturer's specified liftoff speed.

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

The pilot's premature rotation and liftoff and her subsequent failure to recognize and correct for the influence of ground effect on the airplane's takeoff performance.

Full narrative available

Index for Nov2009 | Index of months