This March 2008 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. Injuries: None. Location: San Antonio, Texas. Aircraft damage: None.
What reportedly happened: The private pilot was undergoing a practical test for commercial pilot certification. The applicant was asked to perform a 180° power-off accuracy landing. The first attempt was terminated with a go-around. According to the designated examiner, the second approach appeared normal until approximately five seconds before touchdown. At that point the rate of descent increased to approximately 1,000 feet per minute and the airspeed slowed to less than 75 mph. The airplane dropped onto the runway, landing hard. Neither the pilot nor examiner noticed any apparent damage at that time and elected to continue the flight. Upon completion of the flight the airplane was examined by maintenance. It was then that the substantial damage to both wings and the landing gear assembly mounts was discovered.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed during the landing flare, which resulted in a hard landing.
For more information: NTSB.gov