The pilot and the passenger, a friend who was previously a student pilot but never completed his training, were making their first flight together.
The pilot, who sustained serious injuries, did not recall the accident.
The passenger reported that the pilot took off from the departure airport and then transferred the controls to him and let him fly for a while. They flew to another airport, and the pilot made one touch-and-go landing on Runway 36.
During departure, the pilot again transferred control to the passenger and stated, “you make the next landing and I will watch you.”
The passenger reported that he was trying to fly the Piper PA-28 straight to the runway but drifting left due to a quartering tailwind, which was reported as 14 knots, gusting to 22 knots. The passenger tried to correct the flight path but was unable to align the airplane with the runway centerline.
He did not remember if the pilot tried to help at any point before the airplane hit the ground near Homestead, Florida.
The airplane came to rest near midfield and about 340′ left of the runway edge.
Examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation.
The pilot’s (left front seat’s) shoulder harness was torn in half at its midpoint. The distal 24″ (the portion that did not normally retract into the inertia reel) of the webbing showed significant discoloration, fading, and stiffness. A significant section of abrasive wear was noted on the edges of the webbing about 15 to 21″ from the distal end fitting. The shoulder harness separated in this worn section.
The passenger’s (right front seat’s) shoulder harness was also discolored, faded, and stiff.
The manufacturer’s maintenance manual for the airplane stated that an inspection of the seat belts is required during the annual and/or 100-hour inspection. The manual indicated that the belts are to be replaced if deteriorated or worn.
Review of the airplane’s maintenance logbooks found no records indicating that the seat belts were ever inspected or replaced. If the pilot’s shoulder harness had been replaced, it would likely have secured him in his seat and minimized the severity of the injuries that he incurred.
Probable cause: The pilot’s improper decision to allow the passenger to attempt a landing, which resulted in a loss of control during landing with a quartering tailwind. Contributing to the severity of the pilot’s injuries was the separation of the deteriorated shoulder harness.
NTSB Identification: ERA16FA186
This May 2016 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.