NTSB Identification: WPR10FA449
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 06, 2010 in Las Vegas, NV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/01/2011
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32RT-300, registration: N36072
Injuries: 2 Fatal,2 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.

An air traffic controller cleared the airplane for takeoff, and he noticed that the airplane remained on the runway until just after the 4,000-foot point of the runway. The controller stated that as the airplane lifted off, it did not appear to be climbing. The controller asked the pilot if he was making a left downwind departure, and the pilot responded affirmative and that he had trouble gaining altitude. Shortly after, the pilot advised the controller that he was going to return to the airport. The controller cleared the pilot direct to the airport, and subsequently saw the airplane descend below a tree line followed by a black plume of smoke rising from the area. One of the passengers stated that during takeoff, the airplane climbed slowly as always then started to feel different, "like it [the airplane] was stepping down." Shortly after, the passenger heard the pilot say that they were losing altitude followed by what sounded like terrain alarms sounding off and the engine "rearing up and down." A witness located near the accident site observed the accident airplane flying at a low altitude, appearing not to be climbing before losing sight of the airplane. The witness stated that the flaps and landing gear appeared to be retracted and that the engine sounded like it was straining to keep the airplane airborne.

Examination of the accident site and aircraft wreckage revealed signatures consistent with a near-level, right wing-low impact with a tree and a light pole prior to impacting a road. Examination of the airplane, flight control systems, engine, and propeller revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions. The density altitude was calculated to be 4,539 feet. Review of airplane manufacturer’s takeoff performance charts revealed that at the time of the accident, the weather and environment conditions were within the takeoff performance chart limitations. The investigation determined that at the time of the accident, the airplane was at least 36 pounds over the specified maximum gross weight for the airplane, including damp baggage items. The exact weight of items stowed within the airplane could not be determined due to the postaccident fire. The operation of the airplane at such a small amount over the maximum gross weight at a high density altitude should not have degraded the airplane’s takeoff performance.

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

The pilot's inability to maintain a positive rate of climb after takeoff for undetermined reasons.

Full narrative available

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