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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: WPR14FA320
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 30, 2014 in San Diego, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/21/2015
Aircraft: MOONEY M20L - NO SERIES, registration: N147MP
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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.

The pilot stated that after the airplane bounced on landing, she aborted the landing by adding full power and confirmed that the flaps were in the takeoff position. She further stated that when she realized that the airplane was not climbing normally and that the engine did not seem to be providing full power, she prepared for an emergency landing to a parking lot between two large retail buildings. The airplane impacted a rooftop air conditioning unit on one of the buildings, collided with the roof's perimeter cinderblock barrier, and then fell to the ground.

A witness, who was a pilot, reported that he observed the airplane flying low over the runway in a nose-high attitude, and, when it crossed the departure end of the runway, it was only about 25 ft above the runway approach lighting. The witness stated that he observed the airplane continue to fly low in a nose-high attitude, and he did not think it was going to clear the trees in its flight path. He further stated that just before reaching the trees, the airplane's nose pitched up abruptly into a very nose-high attitude, and the airplane climbed about 100 to 200 ft, cleared the trees, but then stopped climbing. According to the witness, "it looked like it stalled, followed by the left wing dipping." The witness added that the airplane then descended in a nose-high, left-wing-low attitude and went out of sight behind a building.

Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The landing gear was found extended, which would have resulted in reduced climb performance. The airplane's pilot operating handbook states that the landing gear is to be retracted during a go-around procedure. The airplane's initial nose-high attitude (before the abrupt pitch-up) also likely reduced climb performance. It is likely that the pilot recognized that the airplane was entering an aerodynamic stall during the steep climb over the trees, lowered the nose, gained airspeed, and averted a spin. However, at this point, there was insufficient altitude to fully recover from the stall and stop the airplane's descent before it impacted the building.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's failure to achieve climb performance and maintain sufficient airspeed during a go-around, which led to the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to retract the landing gear in accordance with the go-around checklist.