NTSB Identification: ERA13FA055
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 13, 2012 in Jackson, MS
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-300, registration: N717RL
Injuries: 3 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.
On November 13, 2012, about 1715 central standard time, a Piper PA-32-300, N717RL, was substantially damaged when it impacted a house in Jackson, Mississippi. The airline transport pilot (ATP) and the two pilot-rated passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, from Hawkins Field (HKS), Jackson, Mississippi, to John Bell Williams Airport (JVW), Raymond, Mississippi. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
According to the owner of the company to which the airplane was registered, and who was also a student pilot of the ATP, the ATP and he were going to fly to JVW to attend a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety seminar. The owner was subsequently unable to go, but advised the ATP that the airplane needed to be flown since it hadn't flown since September 3rd. The owner was unaware that the other two pilots were onboard.
Announcements for the safety seminar indicated that it was scheduled to begin at 1630.
According to the manager and a lineman at a local fixed base operator, the airplane was pulled out of its hangar and the main fuel tanks were topped off prior to the arrival of the ATP and the passengers, shortly before 1700. Both indicated that the ATP's preflight inspection was much quicker than normal. The lineman, who was refueling another airplane, only looked at the accident airplane periodically, but did see the ATP walking around it, and also saw him in the position required to activate the fuel strainer lever in the interior, right side of the cabin. The lineman later drove by the airplane, and noticed a puddle, an estimated 1 foot in diameter, on the tarmac below the strainer.
The lineman also noticed that the airplane's right tire was low, but the airplane started up and departed before he could inform the ATP. He further observed that the ATP was in the front left seat, and that the younger passenger was in the front right seat.
The manager also noted that the engine run-up was much quicker than he was accustomed, and because of the low tire, he decided to watch the takeoff. He saw the airplane taxi onto runway 16, and heard an abrupt addition of power for the takeoff. The airplane then lifted off in the vicinity of taxiway Bravo, with the engine sounding "normal; real strong."
A preliminary audition of tower communications revealed that at 1708, the pilot called for taxi. The tower controller approved taxi to either runway 16 or 34, pilot's discretion, and the pilot chose runway 16.
At 1712, the pilot requested and was cleared for takeoff, and to then turn right, on course.
At 1713, the pilot was cleared to contact Jackson Departure Control.
A combined FAA radar depiction with voice overlay first revealed the airplane when it was just south of the departure end of runway 16 at 500 feet.
At 1713:50, while the airplane was passing through about 700 feet, the pilot contacted departure control. The controller requested that the pilot "ident" and he provided the local altimeter setting. The pilot did not respond.
At 1714:05, the airplane reached 1,000 feet, followed by a descent to 900 feet.
At 1714:15, the pilot stated "we got an engine problem, we're turning back toward Hawkins." The controller responded, "requiring any assistance, you can turn left or right direct Hawkins," and the pilot replied, "we're headed back, we'll try to make it."
The controller then stated, "understand you're declaring an emergency," but there were no further transmissions from the airplane. Radar indicated a right, descending turn, with the last contact at 500 feet.
The majority of the airplane came to rest upside down in a house located about 185 degrees true, 0.8 nautical miles south of the departure end of runway 16, in the vicinity of 32 degrees, 18.93 minutes north latitude, 090 degrees, 13.28 minutes west longitude.
Tree damage indicated an approximately 60-degree descent, heading 310 degrees magnetic. Except for the left wing, which was lying in the yard next door, the airplane was mostly consumed in a postcrash fire, inside the house. All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the scene. Fire damage precluded flight control continuity beyond cable separation points.
The airplane's instrument panel was completely destroyed; however, charred remnants from a hand-held GPS receiver were recovered and forwarded to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory for a data recovery attempt.
Engine power control positions could not be determined, and the fuel selector position at the time of impact could also not be ascertained. However, the fuel selector was retained for further examination at the NTSB Materials Laboratory.
The Lycoming IO-540-series engine was also charred, with all accessories exhibiting thermal damage. The engine was removed from its upside-down position, and placed on a flatbed trailer for further examination. The propeller, which had one blade tip burned off, did not exhibit torsional bending or leading edge damage.
Propeller rotation confirmed crankshaft continuity to the back of the engine as well as valve movement. Top spark plugs were removed, and cylinder compression was confirmed; however, as compressions were tested, dirty water, consistent with fire suppression water mixed with engine fluids, was ejected from the spark plug holes. When the fuel flow divider (spider) was opened, water was found in the lower part that was clear with the exception of a small amount of white particulate matter. Attempts to determine the source of that water, whether from fire suppression or the fuel supply system itself, are ongoing.
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