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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: ERA15FA208
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, May 08, 2015 in Atlanta, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/31/2016
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32R-300, registration: N5802V
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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.

Several days before the accident flight, the commercial pilot told his mechanic and flight instructor that the airplane had not been climbing well. The pilot had completed an engine run-up and subsequent test flight, and found no anomalies with the airplane. The accident flight was the second leg of a cross-country trip that originated earlier in the morning. During the accident takeoff, the pilot stated to air traffic control that the airplane was having trouble climbing. The airplane subsequently collided with terrain about 2 miles from the runway.

Postaccident testing of the fuel manifold showed that it was not operating normally and was contaminated with debris. The composition of debris and its origin could not be determined, but it was likely that the debris moved within the fuel manifold during operation and resulted in fluctuating power indications. Examination of the engine did not reveal any mechanical anomalies. Although the airplane was likely loaded 24 pounds in excess of its maximum gross weight, takeoff distance calculations showed that sufficient runway was available when loaded at the maximum gross weight for the departure and climb, assuming nominal performance of the airplane, engine, and pilot. Given that the airplane was having difficulty climbing, as communicated by the pilot to air traffic control during the departure, it is likely that during the takeoff, the debris in the fuel manifold prevented the engine from obtaining full power.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • A partial loss of engine power due to contamination in the fuel manifold, which resulted in a collision with terrain shortly after takeoff.