The Piper Cheyenne had not been flown for about four months and was being prepared for export. The pilot, accompanied by two passengers, was attempting a local test flight out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after avionics upgrades had been performed.
Shortly after takeoff, the pilot transmitted that he was experiencing an emergency, but he did not state the nature of the emergency.
According to witnesses, the airplane appeared to be having difficulty climbing as it entered a right turn back toward the airport. The twin-engine Piper stalled, rolled right about 90°, crashed in a parking lot and caught fire.
The left propeller assembly was fire damaged, and the right propeller assembly remained attached to the gearbox, which separated from the engine.
Examination of wreckage did not reveal any pre-impact malfunctions. It was noted that the left engine displayed more pronounced rotational signatures than the right engine, but this difference could be attributed to the impact sequence.
The left propeller assembly displayed evidence of twisting and rotational damage, and the right propeller assembly did not display any significant evidence of twisting or rotational damage indicative of operation with a difference in power.
The lack of flight recorders and the condition of the wreckage precluded the gathering of additional relevant information.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident as the pilot’s failure to maintain control following an emergency, the nature of which could not be determined.
NTSB Identification: ERA13FA168
This March 2013 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.