This November 2007 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 Cherokee. Location: Alliance, Ohio. Injuries: None. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The private pilot was attempting to land on a 2,088-foot turf runway. The landing was uneventful, but when the pilot depressed the toe brakes the airplane did not slow down. He felt pressure on the pedals and, although he was standing on the brakes, the plane did not stop. When he realized the airplane was going to run off the end of the runway, he decided to shut down the engine and turn off the master electrical switch. The airplane went through the airport perimeter fence, traveled through a ditch, and onto a nearby road where it was it by a vehicle.
Examination of the turf runway after the accident failed to reveal any skid markings that could be associated with the airplane’s ground track. Local law enforcement surveyed the accident site and determined that the airplane touched down with 1,072 feet of runway remaining. According to the airplane’s operating handbook, at maximum gross weight the airplane required about 600 feet to stop on a paved, level and dry runway. The operating handbook did not provide landing performance data for a turf runway.
The airplane was equipped with a hand brake and dual toe brakes. The hand brake can also be used as a parking brake in conjunction with a locking ratchet system. Once the hand brake lever is engaged, the use of toe brakes becomes ineffective. With the hand brake fully disengaged, the left brake system functioned properly when its corresponding toe brakes were depressed during a post-accident examination. The right brake assembly had impact damage that prevented a functional test. The pilot said he had used the parking brake earlier in the day, but he had alternatively used the toe brakes during the engine run-up before departing on the accident flight. He concluded that the parking brake must have “partially engaged” sometime during the flight.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inadvertent activation of the parking brake, which resulted in the toe brakes becoming ineffective.
For more information: NTSB.gov