SEA08LA073
SEA08LA073

On February 8, 2008, about 2026 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-44-180 airplane, N2922X, was substantially damaged when it collided with trees and subsequently the ground during an emergency landing following a reported loss of engine power while maneuvering near Piru, California. The certified flight instructor (CFI), pilot-rated student receiving instruction, and one passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to General Aviation Ventures International Inc., Camarillo, California, and operated by GAVIN Aviation of Camarillo. Dark night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. The local flight originated from the Camarillo Airport (CMA) about 1900.

In a written statement, the CFI reported that during the training flight, the student pilot was conducting a series of simulated instrument approaches near the Fillmore (FIM) Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Radio Range Tactical Air Navigation Aid (VORTAC). On the third practice approach, the CFI simulated a "right engine failure." After the student pilot performed his checklist procedures, the CFI placed the throttle at "12 inches [of manifold pressure] for [simulating] zero thrust." As the airplane crossed over the VORTAC at an altitude of 3,000 feet mean sea level (msl), the CFI noted mild turbulence that increased as the flight continued to descend. While descending through 2,500 feet msl, the CFI instructed the student pilot to abort the simulated approach and commence a climb with both engines due to the increasing turbulence.

As the airplane ascended through about 3,000 feet, the airplane "experienced a violent jolting bump." The student pilot immediately asked the CFI if he had the controls and informed him that both engines had lost power. The CFI took control of the airplane and feathered both engines while turning to a northeasterly heading, initiating a forced landing to a unlit area near a highway. The CFI stated while the airplane was descending, he was able to restart the left engine but had no response to throttle movement, and was unable to restart the right engine. As the descent continued, the CFI "…pulled both mixtures back to idle cutoff and pulled the fuel valves to off." He added that he was unable to see the ground until the airplane was about 50 feet above ground level. Subsequently, the airplane impacted trees and the ground before it came to rest within a small open field.

The pilot-rated student receiving instruction reported in a written statement that while maneuvering in the area of the FIM VORTAC, the airplane encountered light turbulence that increased steadily to moderate turbulence. Subsequently, the turbulence "became extreme" and the "airplane jolted strongly." The student pilot recalled after the turbulence encounter, both engines lost power and despite numerous attempts, the engines would not restart. The student pilot stated after the landing, he attempted to secure the airplane and noted he was unable to move the fuel selectors to the "OFF" position and that the fuel selectors were "jammed/broken." He added that the time frame from when the engines lost power to when the airplane landed was about 40 to 50 seconds.

Examination of the airplane by first responders revealed the right wing was separated from the fuselage and the left wing exhibited extensive structural damage. Recovery personnel reported that 20 gallons of 100-low lead fuel were drained from each wing fuel tank.

On February 13, 2008, the airframe and engines were examined under the supervision of the NTSB investigator-in-charge at the facilities of Aircraft Recovery Service, Pearblossom, California by representatives from Piper Aircraft and Textron Lycoming.

Examination of the recovered airframe and fuel system revealed no evidence of pre-impact anomalies. The left fuel selector lever was observed in the "ON" position and the right fuel selector lever was in the "OFF" position. Both fuel selector levers and valves moved freely when actuated by hand. Electrical continuity was established to all four engine magneto switches. The left and right airframe fuel pumps actuated when power was applied using a 12 volt battery.

The left and right engines were separated from the engine nacelles by recovery personnel. Examination of the left engine revealed that all accessories remained attached to the engine. Rotational continuity was established throughout the engine and valve train when the propeller was rotated by hand. Thumb compression was noted on all four cylinders and spark was produced on all ignition leads. The top spark plugs were removed and examined. The top one, two, and three spark plugs were black in color in the electrode area. The number four top spark plug was brown in color in the electrode area. Fuel was observed within the carburetor float bowl and the carburetor fuel screen was intact and free of debris. The engine driven fuel pump was disassembled and no anomalies were noted. The propeller remained attached to the propeller flange and both propeller blades were secure in the hub. One blade exhibited a slight aft bend throughout the span of the blade. The opposing blade exhibited leading edge damage and trailing edge "S" bending.

Examination of the right engine revealed that all accessories remained attached to the engine. Rotational continuity was established throughout the engine and valve train when the propeller was rotated by hand. Thumb compression was noted on all four cylinders and spark was produced on all ignition leads. The top spark plugs were removed and examined. The top one, two, three, and four spark plugs were black in color within the electrode area. Fuel was observed within the carburetor float bowl and the carburetor fuel screen was intact and free of debris. The engine driven fuel pump was disassembled and no anomalies were noted. The propeller remained attached to the propeller flange and both propeller blades were secure in the hub near the low pitch position. Both propeller blades were bent aft about mid-span with leading edge damage and scratches.

Examination of the left and right engines and system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical anomalies.

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