Saturday, May 1, 2004
Known And Unknown Deficiencies
It’s both the pilot’s and mechanic’s responsibility to find faulty equipment
Occasionally, NTSB accident investigators find that a pilot wasn’t terribly smart when taking off, knowing that there was something wrong with the aircraft. The Safety Board often describes this in Probable Cause statements by saying that the pilot “attempted flight with known deficiencies in equipment.” Unfortunately, whether the deficiency was known or unknown, the outcome can be the same.
On July 2, 2002, at 3 p.m., a Piper PA-28RT-201 operated by a flight school struck the ground during initial climb after takeoff from Lebanon Municipal Airport in Lebanon, Tenn. The Part-91 instructional flight was being operated VFR and the aircraft had been flown to Lebanon from Nashville, Tenn. The flight instructor and the private pilot who was receiving instruction sustained fatal injuries, and the commercial-rated passenger who was sitting in the back received minor injuries.
During the engine run-up, the passenger noticed that the checklist was not used. However, a magneto check was performed. It indicated that the left magneto operated normally, but when the right magneto was selected, the engine lost power. The pilot and the CFI made the decision to continue the flight on one magneto, since it had been done successfully in the same plane during the previous week.
The flight took off from runway 19. When the airplane was passing over trees, the passenger heard the CFI tell the private pilot to “watch the airspeed, and keep it straight.” The passenger looked out of the window and noticed that the airplane was slightly nose-up and felt the “airplane sinking.” The CFI took over the flight controls and banked the airplane to the right. The passenger remembers seeing a barn from the air and the airplane hitting a power line.
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