This is a courtesy translation by the BEA of the Final Report on the Safety Investigation published in January 2023. As accurate as the translation may be, the original text in French is the work of reference.
Note:thefollowing information is principally based on statements made by the pilot. This information has not been independently validated by the BEA.
1. History of the flight
The pilot planned to carry out a cross-country round trip to Saint-Barthelemy under a flight plan. The meteorological conditions were CAVOK. The pilot indicated that during the before-flight inspection, the battery power level was low. To avoid draining the battery at start-up, he started up on a ground power unit without any difficulty and then switched the alternator to ON after having disconnected the power unit.
The pilot carried out the engine tests that revealed nothing abnormal and then took off on runway 12 at Pointe-à-Pitre - Le Raizet airport. After approximately 15 minutes of flight, en route at an altitude of 6,500 ft, the pilot checked the aeroplane configuration and the engine parameters. He noticed that the needle of the battery charge indicator was oscillating and observed a value of 10 V. He decided to return to Pointe-à-Pitre because he thought the battery was discharging.
He then noticed that the landing gear red indicator light was illuminated. He deduced that the landing gear was no longer being held by the pressure of the hydraulic pump.
The pilot announced a battery problem to Antigua VC Bird international airport and said he intended to turnaround. He then contacted Pointe-à-Pitre - Le Raizet airport. He said he was going to save the battery by shutting down all the electrical systems, including the radio and navigation instruments. When he had the Pointe-à-Pitre airport facilities in sight, he contacted the controller at Pointe-à-Pitre again and indicated that he was going to perform an emergency landing gear extension as the landing gear indicator lights were off.
Following the controller’s suggestion, the pilot flew a pass in front of the tower so that the controller could confirm that the landing gear was extended. The controller offered to flash the Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) lights if he detected a problem.
The pilot indicated that he landed in full flap configuration and that the main landing gear touched down first at a low speed that he estimated at around 70 kt. He explained that when the nose gear touched down, the left main landing gear collapsed, the aeroplane veered off the left side of the runway and came to a stop in the grass.
The pilot shut down the engine, switched off the magnetos and evacuated the aeroplane.
The pilot thought he experienced an alternator failure after he passed the north area of Pointe-à-Pitre - Le Raizet airport.
2. Additional information
2.1. Pilot information
The 58-year-old pilot had a PPL(A) licence issued in September 2009 along with a SEP land rating and a class 2 medical certificate without restriction. In the previous 90 days, he had flown approximately four hours, all on type. On the day of the accident, he had logged 1,263 flight hours, of which 380 hours on the PA28.