Passenger Stated To The Friend That They Were Having Maintenance Issues

Location: Seguin, TX Accident Number: WPR22FA264
Date & Time: July 22, 2022, 18:45 Local Registration: N8542W
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-235 Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On July 22, 2022, about 1845 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28-235 airplane, N8542W, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Seguin, Texas. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The accident flight departed Elm Creek Airpark (0TX6), Seguin, Texas, with a reported destination of Natchitoches Regional Airport (IER), Natchitoches, Louisiana. A friend of the passenger reported that he was in contact with the passenger via a video call prior to the aircraft departing on the evening of the accident flight. The passenger stated to the friend that they were having maintenance issues and that the pilot could not get the engine started. During the video conversation, the friend could see that the engine cowling was open. The exact maintenance issues with the airplane were never discussed. A photo was also taken by the passenger and showed the right side of the airplane, with the pilot on the wing near the open airplane entry door. Additionally, the photo showed that the engine cowling’s right side aft latch appeared not flush with the cowling.

Shortly after, another photo of the airplane was captured by a local resident as it crossed in front of his hangar, about 400 ft down runway 14 after it started its departure roll. The photo shows that the right side upper cowling was not secured. Another resident reported that on the previous day, the accident airplane had stopped near their residence located near the departure end of runway 14. The pilot had said to the resident that his cowling had opened and that he needed to secure it before taking off. The airplane departed a few minutes later and returned about 45 minutes later.

Examination of the accident site revealed that a postaccident fire occurred consuming some of the wreckage. All major structural components of the airplane were located. The upper engine cowling and portions of the lower cowling were also located.

Preliminary radar track data revealed a track consistent with the accident airplane departing runway 14 at 0TX6 and entering a left turn. The accident site is about 1/4 mile east of 0TX6 and 1,000 ft east of the last radar hit. Altitude could not be determined with the preliminary target data. No mechanical anomalies or malfunctions were noted during the wreckage examination.