October 3, 2009, Whiteville, N.C., Piper PA-32R-300


At about 1930 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a gear-up landing. The private pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Earlier, the pilot reported a complete loss of electrical power, and that he was unable to lower the landing gear. Several attempts to lower the landing gear using the published emergency procedures also were unsuccessful. After an estimated 90 minutes of troubleshooting, the pilot landed the airplane gear-up on the runway. According to the mechanic, during the recovery, the airplane was raised and the landing gear “just came down by itself.”

Examination revealed the air conditioning compressor had seized. The compressor belt had broken, which then fouled the alternator belt. Once the alternator belt broke and battery power was exhausted the airplane experienced a complete electrical failure. With electrical power applied, the landing gear would operate as designed. With electrical power removed, the pressure release valve would not allow the gear to lower. Instead, the pressure was released by opening the hydraulic line, and the gear then lowered as designed. Further examination of the valve was scheduled for a later date.


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