The pilot and passenger were departing on a cross-country flight in the Piper PA-28.
Shortly after takeoff, the engine experienced a partial loss of power and the airplane would not climb.
The pilot chose to perform a forced landing to a road in Fort Myers, Florida. The plane hit a building, then the ground, then caught on fire. The passenger died in the crash, while the pilot was seriously injured.
The airplane was operated by a flying club. On two separate occasions before the accident, two different pilots experienced a loss of engine power in the airplane.
About a month before the accident, a pilot experienced a partial loss of engine power shortly after takeoff. He landed the airplane on the remaining runway.
Following that incident, a maintenance inspection revealed no anomalies.
Maintenance personnel flushed both right and left fuel tanks, installed new fuel cap seals, drained the carburetor fuel bowl, cleaned and inspected the fuel filter, and flushed the fuel lines. A subsequent test run of the engine revealed no anomalies.
Another pilot reported that, about two weeks before the accident, while in cruise flight at 8,000′, the engine experienced a total loss of power. He was able to restart the engine at an altitude of 3,000′ and uneventfully performed a precautionary landing. A subsequent maintenance inspection did not reveal any anomalies.
Post-accident examination of the engine did not reveal any pre-impact mechanical malfunctions. Continuity of the crankshaft and camshaft were observed during manual rotation of the engine and the interiors of each cylinder revealed no anomalies.
However, postimpact fire damage precluded a thorough examination of the ignition, fuel, and induction systems, and the reason for the partial loss of engine power could not be determined based on the available information.
Probable cause: A partial loss of engine power during initial climb for reasons that could not be determined because extensive fire damage precluded thorough examination of the engine and its associated systems.
NTSB Identification: ERA17FA210
This June 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.