NTSB Identification: ERA11FA054
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 11, 2010 in West Palm Beach, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/17/2012
Aircraft: PIPER AIRCRAFT INC PA-44-180, registration: N883FT
Injuries: 4 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 commercial pilot’s most recent flight in a multi-engine airplane was about 1 year before the accident. During initial climb after takeoff, the certified flight instructor (CFI) reported to the tower controller that the airplane had experienced an engine failure and that they needed to return to the runway. The controller cleared the flight to land on any runway, but the airplane subsequently banked left and impacted the ground in a nose-down attitude. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the propeller for the engine that lost power (the left engine) was not in the feathered position and that the landing gear was in the extended position, which is contrary to the published emergency procedure for an engine failure during takeoff. Postaccident download of avionics data revealed that the left engine lost fuel flow and rpm less than 1 minute after takeoff power was applied, and examination of the wreckage revealed that the left fuel selector lever and fuel selector valve were found in the off position. The taxiing checklist for the airplane specified that the fuel selectors were to be switched from the on position to the crossfeed position to ensure that the crossfeeds were working properly; the before takeoff checklist specified that the fuel selectors should be set to the on position. Postaccident ground testing performed in an airplane of the same model as the accident airplane revealed that, when the fuel selectors are moved from the crossfeed position to the on position (or from the on position to the crossfeed position), the fuel selector passes through the off position. The ground testing also showed that, when the test airplane’s left fuel selector was placed in the off position and then takeoff power was applied to both engines, the left engine lost power completely after 36 seconds. Therefore, the loss of engine power during the accident flight is consistent with the takeoff having been performed with left fuel selector in the off position.

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

The failure of both the pilot and the certified flight instructor to ensure that the left fuel selector was in the on position for takeoff and their failure to follow the proper procedures when the left engine lost power shortly after takeoff, resulting in an in-flight loss of control.

Full narrative available

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