According to the pilot receiving instruction during instrument training, she and the flight instructor noted that the Piper PA-28’s left brake was less effective than the right brake during landing.
Following the training, she returned to her home airport in Oregon, Wisconsin, and during landing on the wet, grass runway, she executed a go-around because there was insufficient runway to safely stop the airplane.
During the second landing, the plane touched down with about two-thirds of the 2,600-foot-long runway remaining. During the landing roll, the pilot ensured that the throttle was in the idle position, and she retracted the flaps and applied aft pressure to the yoke. She applied the foot brakes and then the hand brake and again noted that the left brake was less effective than the right brake, and the airplane continued to slide on the wet grass. The airplane overran the runway and hit a drainage culvert.
The right wing then hit a barn, and the left wing hit a trailer. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wing’s spars and ribs.
According to the FAA aviation safety inspector who examined the airplane, there was a pool of hydraulic fluid on the ground that appeared to be consistent with an O-ring failure or displacement. He affirmed that, although degraded, the brake would still have been functional but would have required more input by the pilot to build pressure within the brake line.
Probable cause: The pilot’s improper decision to take off with a known brake malfunction, which resulted in a collision with a barn during landing on a wet runway.
This July 2018 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.