On July 12, 2000, approximately 1330 central daylight time, a Piper PA-23-160 twin-engine airplane, N4322P, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power during takeoff climb from the Starr County Airport near Rio Grande City, Texas. The airplane was owned and operated by a private individual. The commercial pilot and his pilot-rated passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 positioning flight. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was destined for the David Wayne Hooks Airport, Spring, Texas.

The flight had departed Corpus Christi, Texas, on the day prior to the accident and was en route to McAllen, Texas, when the airplane experienced a total electrical failure. The pilot made a precautionary landing at the Starr County Airport, where he had the battery charged. However, the electrical problem was not repaired prior to departing on the day of the accident.

According to the pilot, prior to departure, he performed a "through preflight and run-up check." After lift-off from runway 15, the landing gear was retracted, and a left turn was initiated. While in the turn, about 300-400 feet agl, the left engine began "sputtering," and after a "few seconds" the engine lost power. The right engine then began to "sputter." Subsequently, the right engine lost power. The pilot executed a forced landing to a field with brush and mesquite trees. The airplane came to rest one mile north of the Starr County Airport.

An FAA inspector, who responded to the accident site, reported that the fuselage was "partially separated aft of the cabin." Additionally, both wings were structurally damaged. The reason for the loss of engine power could not be determined.

According to the FAA inspector, the airplane had been inspected on July 6, 2000, by another FAA inspector, who issued an Aircraft Condition Notice for maintenance defects, which were considered to be an imminent hazard to safety. A special flight permit was required prior to operating the aircraft if corrective action had not been taken. An examination of the airplane revealed that the maintenance defects were not corrected, and a special flight permit had not been obtained.

Neither the pilot nor the operator responded to requests to provide a completed Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2).

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