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 177RG.

Location: Fargo, N.D.

Injuries: 2 Serious.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The oil filter on the aircraft had just been replaced. The accident flight was the first post-maintenance flight. Shortly after takeoff the pilot reported that the engine was losing power. He turned back toward the airport. When the plane was about two miles from the airport the engine seized. The aircraft did not have enough altitude to glide to a runway. The pilot performed a landing on a road in a residential neighborhood. The aircraft struck a street light and a vehicle.

Post-accident inspection of the engine revealed that the No. 4 connecting rod had separated and was now protruding through the top of the engine case. A film of oil covered the oil filter, the accessory case below the oil filter, and the bottom of the fuselage. When the oil system was pressurized a leak was noted around the base of the oil filter canister. Further inspection revealed that the oil filter canister bolt was not adequately torqued and its retaining safety wire was incorrectly installed. Additionally, the canister base gasket was incorrectly installed, which allowed oil to leak out from the canister base. No leaks were noted after the gasket was repositioned and the canister was reinstalled. The pilot reported that the oil pressure was “in green” during an engine run-up check completed prior to takeoff. Several individuals reported there was an approximately 4-foot diameter oil spill in the ramp area used by the accident airplane for start-up and pre-takeoff operations.

Probable cause: The mechanic’s improper installation of the oil filter canister base gasket, which resulted in an oil leak and the separation of the connecting rod due to oil starvation.

Aircraft: Cessna U206.

Location: Port Alsworth, Alaska.

Injuries: 3 Fatal, 2 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The commercial pilot was on a personal flight with his wife and three children. The family was returning to its home on the shore of a remote lake adjacent to an airport. The pilot, who had received forecast and current weather reports indicating deteriorating VFR conditions, flew through a mountain pass into an area of rapidly deteriorating weather. He told investigators that he elected to fly at 400 feet AGL along the north shore of the frozen, snow-covered lake. It was snowing and he estimated visibility was one mile.

The pilot made a turn to the right and lost depth perception because the terrain blended in with the falling show. During the turn the aircraft descended into the lake. The pilot had to cut his seatbelt to get out. The pilot’s wife escaped but they could not rescue their three daughters before the airplane sank in about 800 feet of water.

Probable cause: The pilot’s continued VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions, his improper in-flight planning and decision making, and his failure to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude. Factors associated with the accident were snow, a low ceiling, whiteout conditions, and a low altitude maneuver initiated by the pilot.

Aircraft: RV-7A.

Location: Panacea, Fla.

Injuries: 1 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot of the experimental airplane reported that during a series of high-speed taxi tests the airplane became airborne. He decided to continue with the unexpected flight by flying the pattern and returning for landing. During the final approach the airplane had a high rate of descent. The aircraft touched down hard on the main gear and bounced. The airplane then landed on the nose gear, which collapsed, and the airplane nosed over. The airplane received damage to the left wingtip, canopy and rudder.

Probable cause: The pilot’s misjudged landing flare, which resulted in a hard landing, the collapse of the nose gear, and subsequent nose over.

Aircraft: Pitts Model 12.

Location: Marion, Miss.

Injuries: 2 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: Both occupants of the aircraft were pilots. It was not determined who was the pilot flying during the accident. The aircraft was observed conducting low altitude aerobatic flight maneuvers. A witness told an investigator that the airplane had just completed a loop when it rolled abruptly to the left and dove into the ground in a near vertical attitude. A post-crash fire consumed most of the airplane.

Other witnesses told the investigator that the pilot/owner typically performed aerobatic maneuvers at 800-1,000 feet above the ground. The airplane was kit-built, and maintained by the pilot. No pilot, airframe, or engine logbooks were located. There was no evidence of any pre-impact mechanical problem.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain control while performing a low altitude, aerobatic maneuver, which resulted in an uncontrolled descent and collision with terrain.

Aircraft: Beech Bonanza.

Location: Leesburg, Fla.

Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, who held an airline transport certificate, was flying low over houses near the airport. He climbed to an altitude of 200 feet above ground level to enter the airport’s landing pattern. According to a passenger in the back seat, who was also a pilot, the pilot overshot the final approach course. Instead of executing a go around, the pilot rolled the airplane into a steep right turn to intercept the course. The passenger said the airplane entered an accelerated stall, and that the pilot-rated right front seat passenger pushed the control yoke forward, and attempted to level the wings. The aircraft was too low to recover. The aircraft hit the ground in a shallow banked skidding turn and cartwheeled. No mechanical problems were discovered during the post-accident inspection.

Probable cause: An abrupt maneuver performed by the pilot at a low altitude, and his failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which precipitated an inadvertent stall and impact with terrain.

Aircraft: Piper Tri-Pacer.

Location: Holly Ridge, N.C.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: A student pilot and CFI were in the aircraft preparing for landing. Because the wind was strong the student pilot decided to land with more airspeed than normal. The aircraft floated, finally touching down about midfield. The CFI asked the student to apply the brakes, and the student said he was applying them. The CFI realized that they were not going to stop before the end of the runway and used the rudder and brake to steer the airplane to the left towards a small field. The nose gear collapsed and the airplane’s right wing struck the ground, substantially damaging the wing.

Probable cause: The CFI’s improper use of the rudder control and normal braking during the landing roll, which resulted in the collapse of the nose gear assembly.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Brooksville, Fla.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land. He thought the flare was normal, but the airplane floated a bit prior to touchdown. Immediately after touchdown, the pilot reported hearing a loud noise and felt what appeared to be a flat tire. He then taxied the airplane as far off the runway as possible. The FBO’s chief maintenance inspector checked the airplane and told the FAA inspector that the airplane incurred damage to the propeller, nose wheel and the firewall. In addition, the forward tunnel assembly on the airplane was buckled.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper landing flare, resulting in substantial damage during the subsequent hard landing.

Aircraft: Piper Warrior II.

Location: Chandler, Ariz.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: The student pilot was practicing touch and goes. The first six went well. On the last touch down, however, the student applied the brakes hard and the airplane began to skid. The airplane veered to the right, went off the runway and hit a taxiway sign. The right wing was damaged.

Probable cause: The student pilot’s failure to maintain directional control, resulting in a collision with the taxiway sign.

Aircraft: Luscombe 8A.

Location: Brookhaven, Miss.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: Shortly after takeoff the pilot encountered bad weather. Rather than continue the flight the pilot elected to return to the airport. During the approach the pilot noted that the velocity of the winds had increased. As he was landing, the aircraft was hit with a gust of wind that caused the aircraft to balloon. The aircraft touched down hard and then ground-looped.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate compensation for wind and his failure to maintain control of the airplane during landing, which resulted in the airplane ground looping.

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