Single-engine approach goes bad for Seneca

This March 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 Seneca. Injuries: 2 Serious. Location: Vero Beach, Fla. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The CFI and student were on a training flight in the twin-engine airplane. They had completed several maneuvers at altitude, including single-engine procedures. During the approach for landing, the CFI retarded the left throttle to simulate an engine failure.

The student correctly identified the affected engine. The CFI then set zero thrust on the left engine. The student continued the approach, utilizing the right engine. On the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, the CFI noted that the altitude had dropped to about 500 to 650 feet above ground level and took control of the airplane. The CFI advanced the throttles to increase power on both engines, however, the engines did not respond. Because of the low altitude, the CFI decided to perform a forced landing rather than attempt to troubleshoot the problem. The CFI had trouble controlling the airplane. The Seneca collided with trees and sustained substantial damage.

Investigators determined that it was likely that the CFI allowed the airspeed to decrease below the minimum controllable speed for single-engine operations.

Probable cause: The CFI’s failure to monitor the airspeed while the student performed a single-engine approach.

For more information: NTSB Identification: ERA10LA162




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