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26th of March 2015, Blog #592

A Piper PA-34-220T Seneca was on route from Senador Nilo Coelho Airport in Petrolina, Pernambuco, Brazil for a flight to Walfrido Salmito De Almeida Airport in Sao Benedito, Brazil on this day in aviation history, 2015. On board the twin-engined aircraft the pilot and three passengers.

The aircraft in its final position after coming to a stop. Note the damage to the right-wing tip (© CENIPA)

After an uneventful flight, the aircraft started its descent towards its destination, at this time the aircraft had deviated from its intended course due to the weather on the intended flight path. During the descent, when the engine power was reduced the left engine failed without any warning. The necessary checks were carried out by the pilot, no obvious reason was apparent for the failure, and the aircraft fuel system and the fuel system for the engine all showed normal indications. The pilot then checked the aircraft's performance and concluded that, with only one engine operating, it would not be possible to reach Walfrido Salmito De Almeida Airport in Sao Benedito, Brazil.

The pilot then looked for an alternate airfield for an emergency landing, eventually opting for a landing at the unregistered airstrip at Guaraciaba do Norte after overflying another unregistered airport at the town of IPU (both towns are located in the state of Ceará, Brazil).

The aircraft in its final position after coming to a stop. Note the damage to the right-wing tip (© CENIPA)

The aircraft was configured for landing and touched down at the airstrip at Guaraciaba do Norte. Due to vegetation growing along the airstrip, the available width of the runway was approximately 11 meters, while the wingspan of the aircraft was 11.86 meters. This resulted in the wingtips striking the vegetation and the pilot losing control of the aircraft. The aircraft left the runway and came to a stop in the vegetation adjacent to the Sequence of events on the runway airstrip. The occupants of the aircraft escaped (© CENIPA) without injuries. The aircraft received substantial damage. The accident was investigated by the CENIPA (Brazilian Aviation Investigation Centre). An investigation of the aircraft did not reveal any obvious issues with the left-hand engine that would explain the issues encountered by the pilot. During their investigation, they analysed the situation, and based on the variables involved (weight of the aircraft and altitude amongst others), concluded that the aircraft could have reached its planned destination on only one engine. In their final report, they concluded that the cause of the accident was the pilot's judgement, and his decision to land at Guarciaba do Norte runway while the performance data indicated that the expected performance for the aircraft in a single-engine condition would allow reaching the destination foreseen for the flight; The investigation report, which served as the source for this blog, can be accessed by clicking on the .pdf file below (please note the report is in Portuguese);

Piper Seneca Engine Failure 26-Mar-2015
Download PDF • 727KB

** Editorial note **

V2 Aviation - Training & Maintenance has not been able to obtain an investigation report in English on this accident. This blog is therefore based on a translation of the original report. Should there be inconsistencies in the blog don't hesitate to get in touch with us. There are two possibilities to do that, via the comments function at the bottom of this page or via the contact page of the website.

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