February 2005 Accident Reports

These February 2005 Accident Reports are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, they are intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Cessna T210.

Location: Shallotte, N.C.

Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The private pilot was on a night cross-country flight at an altitude of 2,500 feet MSL when the engine began to sputter. Attempts to restore power were unsuccessful, so he made a forced landing on a highway. The right wing of the airplane collided with a tree and the ground. The airplane caught fire. The pilot escaped but was unable to get the passenger out of the airplane due to the fire.

Examination of the airframe, flight controls, and engine revealed no anomalies that would have caused the loss of power.

Probable cause: The loss of engine power for undetermined reasons.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Loveland, Colo.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: According to the flight instructor, the student and instructor were practicing touch-and-go landings. During the flare, the flight instructor told the student to perform a go-around. The student acknowledged the instructor and then added full power and pushed the yoke forward. The nose of the aircraft pitched down sharply. The instructor took control of the airplane as the nose gear hit the runway. The airplane bounced and veered to the left, going off the runway. The instructor was able to land the airplane. He brought the airplane to a complete stop approximately 15 feet off of the left side of the runway. The nose gear was substantially damaged. The student told investigators that the purpose of the flight was to perform touch-and-go landings, not go-arounds and that he was unaware of what the go-around procedure was. The student told investigators that he made the landing and that the airplane bounced higher than normal before coming to rest off the left side of the runway. The instructor told investigators that he felt that the student did not have an accurate memory of the incident.

Probable cause: The student’s improper go-around and the flight instructor’s inadequate supervision. A contributing factor was the inadequate communication between the flight instructor and the student.

Aircraft: RV-8A.

Location: Rochester, Ind.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The non-instrument-rated pilot took off in instrument meteorological conditions. According to witnesses, visibility at the time of departure was less than a half mile in fog. A short time later the pilot transmitted over the airport Unicom frequency that he was six miles from the airport and that he was inbound for landing. The pilot then reported that he was going to circle near the airport and wait for the fog to lift. Within minutes the airplane descended, hitting trees and plunging into a frozen pond about one-half mile southeast of the airport. There was no record of the pilot having received a preflight weather briefing.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to obtain a preflight weather briefing and his flight into known adverse weather conditions and subsequent failure to maintain adequate altitude while circling the airport, which resulted in the failure to maintain clearance with the trees.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Coalinga, Calif.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land on a runway that measured 2,820 x 30 feet. The aircraft touched down more than a third of the way down the runway, bounced and began to porpoise. The pilot attempted to recover by adding power to smooth out the oscillations. By the time the aircraft was in the landing rollout the pilot realized that he lacked sufficient runway to do a go-around. He jammed on the brakes as the aircraft rolled off the runway and into soft soil. The nose wheel dug in and the aircraft nosed over, landing on its back.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate recovery from a bounced landing and his failure to abort the landing.

Aircraft: Ercoupe 415-C.

Location: Alexandria, La.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The 68-year-old pilot was at the end of a 213-nm cross-country flight. He had approximately 3.9 hours in the aircraft. According to witnesses on the ground, as the aircraft entered the downwind leg of the pattern it began to lose altitude. The aircraft continued to descend until it hit the ground. Investigators could not find any pre-crash mechanical problems with the aircraft. The pilot’s autopsy did not produce any signs of incapacitation.

Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of control while maneuvering to land.

Aircraft: Grumman American AA1B.

Location: Petaluma, Calif.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was practicing touch and go landings. Shortly after takeoff the aircraft’s engine backfired. According to witnesses on the ground the aircraft was in the initial climb and out of usable runway when the engine appeared to lose power. The pilot made a low and tight downwind turn. The airplane paralleled the runway before it pitched nose up and entered a stall, followed by a nose-down, right-hand spin. The aircraft came down on a grass fairway on a golf course adjacent to the airport.

The post-crash examination revealed that the right-hand fuel tank contained very little fuel while the left fuel tank was half full. The carburetor bowl contained 5 milliliters of fuel, which is consistent with fuel starvation.

The fuel selector valve was positioned to the right-hand fuel tank. The fuel selector valve had not been lubricated in accordance with the recommended servicing instructions, which resulted in binding. The binding caused the fuel valve to require approximately three times the normal force to operate it.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain an adequate airspeed above the stall speed while maneuvering to a landing area, resulting in a stall-spin. Factors in the accident were the fuel starvation induced loss of engine power due to the pilot’s fuel system mismanagement, and the mechanical binding of the fuel selector valve due to inadequate maintenance.

Aircraft: Beech Baron.

Location: Niles, Mich.

Injuries: 4 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The airplane was on an instrument flight plan although visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot had a total of 11,409 flight hours, including 4,589 hours in multiengine aircraft. The airplane departed at 8:38 a.m. The radar track data indicated that aircraft’s altitude remained constant at 7,000 feet MSL until 9:19 when it began an unauthorized descent. There were no communications with air traffic control and no distress call was received. At 9:20, radar data indicated the airplane was at 3,400 feet MSL. No further radar contact with the airplane was recorded. The radar track data indicated that the airplane’s heading and altitude went almost “straight down.” Investigators determined that the airplane hit the terrain at about 300 knots true airspeed in a nose-down descent. The main wreckage was localized at the impact crater. The cockpit was fragmented and destroyed by impact forces. All flight control cable breaks were consistent with overload fractures. The physical condition of the pilot pre-impact could not be determined because of the state of the remains.

Probable cause: The steep nose down descent from cruise for undetermined reasons and the subsequent collision with terrain in a steep nose down attitude.

Aircraft: Aeronca 65CA.

Location: Ravenswood, W.Va.

Injuries: 2 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: According to witnesses it was a very windy day. The pilot was attempting to land on a 4,001 x 75 asphalt runway. The pilot reported that the airplane was above the runway centerline when a gust of wind pushed the aircraft to the right. The aircraft was blown off the runway and into a ravine.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate compensation for the windy conditions and failure to maintain directional control while landing. A factor in this accident was the crosswind.

Aircraft: Piper Super Cub.

Location: Larimore, N.D.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The purpose of the flight was for the CFI to provide tailwheel training to a private pilot. The CFI stated the student made the first landing. The CFI then demonstrated a wheel landing. The student made two more landings with little assistance. During the fourth landing the student landed on the main gear and after the tailwheel came down the airplane turned slightly left of the centerline. The student overcorrected and the airplane veered abruptly to the right. The CFI applied full left rudder, but it was too late to stop the aircraft from ground looping. The aircraft struck a snow bank on the side of the runway and nosed over.

Probable cause: The CFI’s delay in applying remedial action, which resulted in a loss of directional control of the airplane.

Aircraft: Mooney M20K.

Location: Roseburg, Ore.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: Shortly after takeoff the pilot announced on Unicom that he was losing manifold pressure and power. The pilot also noted that there was a loss of oil pressure and elected to land the airplane in a wooded area near the airport. The post-accident examination of the engine revealed that the distal end of the No. 5 piston pin was fractured. Further examination showed that the inner aluminum piston pin insert also was fractured. Both fracture surfaces sustained extensive damage and metal loss so significant that an analysis of the surfaces could not be completed. Heavy scoring and mechanical damage was noted to the wall of the cylinder assembly and piston. The bottom piston ring was seized in place. Examination of the oil sump revealed a large amount of metallic particles. The oil pickup tube and screen also contained a significant amount of metallic particles similar to the material found in the oil sump. The amount of metallic particles was sufficient enough to restrict the oil flow passage.

Probable cause: A fractured piston pin that resulted in a loss of engine power and subsequent forced landing.

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