The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) believes that flight training in the Piper Tomahawk should be restricted pending completion of flight-testing by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The Safety Board recommendation to the FAA follows the crash on 4 March, 1994, of a Piper Tomahawk which killed a flight instructor and a pilot undergoing a biennial flight review.

Witnesses say that the aircraft was in a spin when it crashed. Examination of the wreckage revealed no mechanical problems, and the NTSB has ruled that the probable cause of the accident was unintentional spin.

It adds that the fatal stall/spin accident rate for the two-seat aircraft is higher than for comparable machines, and that certain required stall tests had not been performed during certification. The FAA plans to perform the omitted tests.

Until flight-testing is complete, slow flight and stall training in the Tomahawk should be conducted at or above the minimum altitude now specified in the operating handbook for spin training. The FAA should also inform pilots of alternative methods of recovery from an inadvertant, possibly flat spin, says the NTSB.

More than 2,400 Piper Tomahawk aircraft were built between 1978 and 1982.

Source: Flight International