March 2005 Accident Reports

These March 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: Kitfox.

Location: Dillard, Ore.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was flying over a river at an altitude of less than 100 feet AGL. He told investigators that he did not see a powerline that stretched across the river until the propeller and left landing gear hit it. The aircraft slammed belly first into the water. The left wing and right lift strut were bent by the impact.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from obstacles while in cruise flight at low altitude, which resulted in a collision with a powerline.

Aircraft: Cessna 206.

Location: Lancaster, Texas.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The 24,611-hour airline transport pilot reported that he did not visually check the fuel tanks prior to takeoff to determine the amount of fuel in them. He told investigators that he thought that both auxiliary fuel tanks were full and the main fuel tanks were almost full. The flight was normal until the pilot moved the fuel selector valve from the left main fuel tank to the right main fuel tank in preparation for landing. The engine lost power. The pilot tried to restore engine power by switching back to the left main tank, but the engine did not respond and the pilot ran out of time and altitude to troubleshoot the problem. The aircraft came down in a field short of the airport. Both fuel tanks on the right wing were breached on impact so the amount of fuel remaining in them could not be determined. According to the FAA inspector who examined the airplane at the accident site, the left auxiliary tank was full of fuel.

Probable cause: The pilot’s mismanagement of fuel, resulting in a loss of engine power due to fuel starvation.

Aircraft: Cessna 180.

Location: Orange Springs, Fla.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot stated that the approach to the runway was normal. However during the flare a wind gust blew the airplane to the left. The aircraft ballooned, then came down hard and bounced. The airplane came down again more than two-thirds of the way down the runway. The pilot applied the brakes but couldn’t bring the plane to a stop on the remaining pavement. The airplane went off the runway and hit a fence.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to abort the landing and his misjudgment of the runway distance needed to complete the landing.

Aircraft: Grumman American AA-5.

Location: Chesapeake, Ohio.

Injuries: 3 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The 250-hour pilot was attempting to land. According to witnesses the airplane was high on the first approach and the pilot executed a go-around. The witnesses said that on the second approach the aircraft appeared to be going too fast and that the intended touchdown point was far down the runway. The pilot initiated another go-around. The airplane climbed in a nose high attitude, clearing a stand of trees at the end of the runway. A witness with a hand-held radio who was monitoring the airport’s Common Traffic Advisory Frequency stated that the pilot transmitted “Guys, we’re going to crash” as the airplane stalled and the right wing dropped. The airplane descended to the ground. A post-crash fire consumed a majority of the main wreckage. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any abnormalities with the airframe or engine.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed during the aborted landing, which resulted in an inadvertent stall.

Aircraft: Piper Cherokee Six.

Location: Millersburg, Ohio.

Injuries: 1 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot flew to his destination airport and had the airplane refueled for the return flight. However, when the weather worsened he elected to return home by ground transportation and leave the plane at the airport. The airplane was parked outside for approximately 10 days until the pilot returned. Prior to his departure, the pilot conducted a preflight inspection that included draining all four fuel tank sumps. The pilot told investigators that he did not find any contaminates in the fuel. He then started the engine, completed the runup and departed. Approximately 20 minutes after takeoff the engine lost power. The pilot’s attempts to restart the engine were unsuccessful. He attempted to perform a forced landing at an airport, but did not have sufficient altitude to glide to the runway. The plane hit trees in the approach path.

The post-accident examination of the engine did not reveal any mechanical deficiencies. However all four fuel cap seals had varying degrees of deterioration, and the left main fuel cap was loose. Examination of the fuel system revealed 1/4 cup of water in the main fuel strainer.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate preflight, resulting in a loss of engine power due to fuel contamination.

Aircraft: Beech Bonanza.

Location: Farmington, N.M.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: A student pilot accompanied by his flight instructor was performing a short-field takeoff in gusty crosswind conditions. When the aircraft became airborne the CFI noted that the plane was in an excessively nose-high attitude. The pitch continued to increase and the airplane rolled to the right and then to the left. The instructor took control of the airplane and decreased the angle of attack and rolled the wings level but could not stop the airplane from stalling and hitting the runway. The airplane bounced several times before coming to a stop.

Probable cause: The student pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed resulting in a stall and loss of control.

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