This June 2009 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 Arrow. Injuries: 3 fatal. Location: Scotia, N.Y. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The flight instructor and student pilot were attempting to take off from a 1,840-foot grass runway next to a river. There was a passenger in the back seat. The manufacturer’s performance charts based on the weather conditions at the accident site revealed the ground run required for takeoff on a hard surface, without flaps extended, is about 1,350 feet. Takeoff from a grassy surface would require a significantly longer distance. The instructor and student pilot did not extend the flaps to 25°, which is the required procedure as published in the Owner’s Handbook for takeoff from a soft surface runway. Witnesses stated that the airplane became airborne two times on the takeoff roll. It lifted off the runway, settled into the river, and sank. All three occupants of the airplane drowned.
Examination of the airframe, flight controls, engine assembly, and accessories revealed no evidence of a pre-crash mechanical failure or malfunction.
Probable cause: The flight instructor’s failure to ensure that the airplane was properly configured for a short field takeoff, and his decision to not abort the takeoff.
For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB identification: ERA09FA345