NTSB Identification: ERA11FA291A
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, May 09, 2011 in New Hampton, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/07/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-180, registration: N5275L
Injuries: 2 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 two accident pilots arrived at the airport in a Piper PA-24-250 (PA24), with the intention that one of the pilots would ferry a Piper PA-28-180 (PA28) back to the departure airport. The PA28 departed first for the return flight, followed by the PA24; however, the PA24 was faster and caught up to the PA28 within 5 minutes. The PA24 approached from below and behind the PA28 and was likely not visible to the pilot of the PA28.

Witnesses near the accident site observed the airplanes flying in the same direction when they "clipped" each other. The PA28 entered an immediate right spiraling dive, while the PA24 entered an "angled nose dive" toward the ground. The PA28 was found inverted with the fuselage crushed; the outboard portion of the right wing was separated and showed damage consistent with propeller strikes to the aft wing spar and flap. The majority of the PA24 was consumed by a postimpact fire. Examination of both airplanes revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

It was not known if the accident pilots were attempting formation flight or were in communication with each other. However, 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 91.111(a) states that "no person may operate an aircraft so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard." In addition, 14 CFR 91.113 stipulates that the pilot of an overtaking airplane (in this case, the PA24) “shall alter course...to pass well clear” of the overtaken airplane. The PA24 should not have passed over, under, or ahead of the PA28 unless it was well clear.

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

The failure of the PA24 pilot to maintain adequate clearance from the PA28 resulting in an inflight collision. Contributing to the accident was the PA24 pilot's decision to overtake the PA28.

Full narrative available

Index for May2011 | Index of months