The airplane owner and a mechanic completed the Piper PA-28-140’s annual inspection the morning of the accident. The mechanic did no work, but returned the airplane to service with an endorsement that the annual inspection/airworthiness requirements had been met based on his determination that the engine runup was satisfactory.
The airplane departed but returned to the airport in Stonewall, Texas, shortly after the departure. During the return, a witness said the plane was “way too high,” and its approach was “pretty steep.”
The airplane touched down about halfway down the short grass runway and was “going way too fast.” The airplane overran the end of the runway and into a pond where it became submerged. The pilot died in the crash.
Post-accident examination of the runway revealed the presence of skid marks from the airplane main landing gear wheels along the last 300′ of the runway. The propeller exhibited rotational signatures but with some loss of torque.
Post-accident examination of the airplane revealed numerous unairworthy maintenance items and/or lack of maintenance to the engine and accessories. Additionally, the engine and various accessories surpassed their manufacturers’ recommended time for overhaul/replacement.
The exhaust manifold was blocked with internal fractured pieces that would have resulted in power loss. The condition of these pieces was consistent with a failure that had been preexisting.
The induction hose to the carburetor was the wrong part for the installation. The hose was collapsed and would have restricted airflow into the carburetor resulting in power loss.
Both magnetos were no longer serviceable and would have produced minimal ignition. The engine timing was not set to the engine manufacturer’s specification.
Had the mechanic conducted a proper annual inspection, he would have identified many of the issues found during the airplane’s post-accident examination.
Based on the evidence, the pilot likely returned to the airport due to a loss of engine power. It could not be determined which of the many discrepancies led to the loss of engine power. Further, the pilot did not attain a power-off approach glideslope that would have led to a proper touchdown point near the approach end of the runway.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to attain a proper touchdown point following a loss of engine power and his inability to stop the airplane on the short, soft runway. Contributing to the accident was the inadequate maintenance of the airplane by the owner and the mechanic and the improper annual inspection by the mechanic.
NTSB Identification: CEN17FA139
This March 2017 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.