NTSB Identification: CEN13LA358
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, June 18, 2013 in Durango, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/24/2014
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28R-180, registration: N7444J
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 pilot reported that, in accordance with operating procedures, he leaned the engine’s fuel-air mixture before takeoff to compensate for the high-density altitude (the departure airport had a density altitude of 9,355 feet). During takeoff, the airplane accelerated to 80 mph, lifted off the runway, and climbed to about 100 feet above ground level. The pilot stated that the airplane seemed “sluggish” and that it stopped climbing. The airplane rapidly descended, the pilot made a controlled landing off the departure end of the runway, and the airplane’s wings were substantially damaged when they struck several approach lights. Fuel was found on board, and it was not contaminated. The examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. An engine ground run was conducted, and the engine developed full power. The runway length was sufficient for a safe take off. The high-density altitude and the tailwind likely contributed to airplane’s reduced performance. 

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

The pilot's improper decision to take off with a tailwind at a high-density altitude, which resulted in the airplane’s failure to maintain the initial climb rate.

Full narrative available

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