On February 6, 2012, at 1816 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-30, N1WE, was substantially damaged when its landing gear collapsed during landing at Culpeper Regional Airport (CJR), Culpeper, Virginia. The certificated airline transport pilot and 2 passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which departed Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR) about 1740. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot stated that, while approaching CJR to land, she did not observe the green landing gear down-and-locked light illuminate when she moved the landing gear handle to the "down" position. She manipulated the handle "several" times and did not observe the green light. The pilot then initiated the manual gear extension checklist with the assistance of the front seat passenger.
Review of air traffic control audio recordings revealed that the pilot contacted her husband, a controller at the Potomac Terminal Radar Approach Control facility, via radio and stated, "I have no gear light." When asked if the airplane's instrument panel lights were on, the pilot replied that they were, that she did not observe the gear down-and-locked indicator light, and that the landing gear would not extend. The controller instructed the pilot to check the landing gear circuit breaker, and the passenger confirmed that the circuit breaker was in. The controller proceeded to guide the pilot through the manual gear extension procedure.
She stated that after completing the manual gear extension, the nose landing gear appeared to be extended in the viewing mirror, and that she heard a "whistling" sound consistent with gear extension, but the green down-and-locked light was not illuminated. The pilot elected to continue the landing, and upon hearing the propellers strike the runway just after touchdown, shut down both engines and exited the airplane on the runway. The pilot reported that she heard the gear warning horn during the landing flare, but that it was "too late" to abort the landing.
The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multiengine land, and a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. She also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multiengine, and instrument airplane. Her most recent FAA first-class medical certificate was issued in October, 2011. The pilot reported 4,100 total hours of flight experience, of which 175 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.
The airplane was manufactured in 1966, and was equipped with two Lycoming IO-320, 160 horsepower reciprocating engines. The airplane had accumulated 4,128 total flight hours at the time of its most recent annual inspection, which was completed in accordance with the manufacturer's inspection checklist on July 22, 2011.
The 1815 automated weather observation at CJR recorded calm winds, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 5 degrees C, dew point 0 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.10 inches of mercury.
Postaccident examination by an FAA inspector revealed substantial damage to the fuselage. The airplane was placed on jacks and visual inspection of the landing gear system revealed no anomalies. The gear motor assembly was reconnected, and the landing gear was cycled and operated normally, though the gear down-and-locked light was not illuminated. The inspector observed that the navigation lights were on, and only when turned off did the gear down-and-locked light illuminate. The gear was retracted, and the yellow gear up-and-locked light illuminated. The emergency gear extension procedure was then performed, and the gear extended and locked down, with the corresponding down-and-locked light illuminated. The inspector stated that initially, the gear light would not illuminate until the navigation light rheostat was in the off, or daytime use, position. However, after manipulating the rheostat several times during the test, the gear down-and-locked light illuminated with the navigation lights on (nighttime use position), though the light was illuminated more dimly than with the navigation lights off.
According to the manufacturer's checklist, the landing, navigation, cabin, and instrument lights were required to be inspected at 100, 500, and 1000-hour intervals.
In a postaccident interview with the FAA inspector, the pilot provided the emergency checklist she had used during the accident flight. The inspector observed that the checklist contained in the airplane's Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) contained the item, "If landing gear operates, but green (gear down – locked) lamp fails to illuminate: Navigation lights…check off." The checklist being utilized by the pilot at the time of the accident did not contain this item. The pilot further stated that she did not consult the POH during the flight.