NTSB Identification: LAX86FA131
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 31420.
Accident occurred Sunday, March 2, 1986 in NEWPORT BEACH, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/25/1988
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-181, registration: N81918
Injuries: 3 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.

THE ACFT WAS RPRTED TO BE ON A DUAL, NIGHT RECURRENT, TRAINING FLT. THE STUDENT PLT'S WIFE RPRTD THAT THE FLT INSTRUCTOR(CFI) & HER HUSBAND HAD BEEN DRINKING BEER BEFORE THEY & THE PASSENGER (ANOTHER STUDENT PLT) DEPARTED ON THE FLT. GROUND WITNESSES OBSERVED THE ACFT FLY VERY LOW OVER A PIER AT NEWPORT BEACH, THEN ENTER A RGT CLIMBING TURN. AS THE ACFT CONTINUED THE TURN, IT BEGAN A DESCENT & SUBSEQUENTLY CONTACTED THE OCEAN, CARTWHEELED & SANK. AN EXAM OF THE WRECKAGE REVEALED THE ACFT HAD IMPACTED IN A NOSE LOW, RGT WING LOW ATTITUDE. TOXICOLOGY EXAMS REVEALED THE STUDENT HAD A BLOOD/ALCOHOL LEVEL OF 0.11%, BUT ONLY A SLIGHT AMOUNT OF ALCOHOL (0.02%) WAS FOUND IN THE CFI'S BLOOD. TESTS FOR DRUGS SHOWED THE STUDENT HAD 0.32 MICROGRAMS/ML OF BENZOYLECGONINE IN HIS BLOOD. ALSO, IN 1 OF 2 TESTS FOR COCAINE, THE STUDENT'S BLOOD TESTED POSITIVE. TOXICOLOGY CHECKS OF THE PASSENGER FOR ALCOHOL & DRUGS WERE NEGATIVE. THE CFI HAD ONLY 392 HRS TOTAL FLT TIME.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

  • SUPERVISION..INADEQUATE..PILOT IN COMMAND(CFI)
  • JUDGMENT..POOR..DUAL STUDENT
  • IMPAIRMENT(ALCOHOL)..DUAL STUDENT
  • IMPAIRMENT(DRUGS)..DUAL STUDENT
  • ALTITUDE..MISJUDGED

Contributing Factors:
  • LOW PASS..PERFORMED
  • LIGHT CONDITION..DARK NIGHT
  • TERRAIN CONDITION..WATER,ROUGH
  • VISUAL/AURAL PERCEPTION..DUAL STUDENT
  • VISUAL/AURAL PERCEPTION..PILOT IN COMMAND(CFI)
Full narrative is not available