Piper PA-28-181, G-MERI
After completing normal power checks, the aircraft was cleared to backtrack and subsequently takeoff from asphalt Runway 25 which has a TORA of 1,714 metres. At approximately 100 ft above the airfield, the engine suffered a rapid loss of power and the pilot prepared to land on the runway remaining ahead. The engine then recovered to full power and the aircraft began to climb again. At this point, the pilot decided to execute a low level circuit and land back on Runway 25 due to his concerns regarding the engine performance. Whilst climbing straight ahead through 300 ft, the engine suffered a second loss of power which persisted, the engine remaining at approximately idle power. The pilot considered that there was not enough runway remaining ahead to land on and selected a field to his right for a forced landing. During the descent it became apparent that the aircraft did not have sufficient gliding range to reach the selected field and that a collision with hedges in the field’s undershoot was inevitable. The pilot slowed the aircraft to reduce the effect of the impact and hit the top of a hedge at right angles. The aircraft continued across a minor road and came to rest in the hedge on the opposite side with both wings and the landing gear becoming detached. All occupants were able to evacuate the aircraft through the main cockpit door. Engine power loss shortly after an aircraft has changed attitude, such as on rotation, can sometimes be attributed to water entering the fuel feed to the carburettor as a result of the change of attitude.
Published 10 December 2014