The Piper Cheyenne that crashed shortly after takeoff on March 15 from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE) in Florida may have been attempting to return to the airport after encountering an unknown system failure, according to preliminary NTSB data.
The aircraft departed FXE at 4:20 p.m. local time for a short maintenance test flight at the time of the crash. The pilot and two passengers were killed when the aircraft stalled after takeoff from Runway 8, struck the ground and burst into flames.
A pilot witness told the NTSB that the Cheyenne appeared to have difficulty climbing and barely cleared obstacles at the end of the runway. The witness said the aircraft appeared to shake before it rolled 90 degrees to the right and headed down until impact.
Preliminary investigation of the portion of its propeller not destroyed in the fire seemed to indicate the right engine was not turning at the same rpm as the left. The aircraft had flown 135 hours in the five years before the accident.