This February 2010 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Piper Twin Comanche. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Amarillo, Texas. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: According to witnesses, the airplane took off and was at an altitude of 900 feet AGL when it turned as if to return for landing. The airplane did not make it back to the runway; instead it crashed into a warehouse near the airport.
The post-accident examination revealed water in the fuel recovered from both the left and right engine fuel systems. Both auxiliary fuel tank caps could be removed without releasing the expansion tab and the left main fuel tank cap could be removed without unscrewing the release mechanism, indicative that the caps were loose and worn. The airplane had been exposed to accumulating snow the week before the accident.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to detect water contaminated fuel, which resulted in a loss of engine power shortly after takeoff. Contributing to the accident were the worn and loose fuel caps, which allowed water to enter the fuel tanks.
For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: CEN10FA122
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