May 2005 Accident Reports

These May 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: Ercoupe.

Location: Saluda, Va.

Injuries: None

Aircraft damage: Substantial

What reportedly happened: The airplane was departing from a 2,270-foot-long runway. When the aircraft was about 100 feet above the ground, the engine lost power. The pilot made a forced landing in an agricultural field off the departure end of the runway. The airplane came down hard, went through a fence and struck a tractor prior to coming to rest. The pilot told investigators that the airplane had experienced several recent incidents of unexplained power loss since the annual inspection that had taken place about a month before the accident. The post-crash inspection revealed that the mixture cable was loosely secured with zip ties. As a result, although the cockpit mixture control indicated the mixture was in the full rich position, the carburetor mixture control arm was actually supplying a lean mixture.

Probable cause: A loss of engine power due to an unsecured mixture control cable, which was not properly secured by maintenance personnel during a recent annual inspection.

Aircraft: Pitts S-2A.

Location: Tracy, Calif.

Injuries: 1 Minor

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land in a crosswind. He used a slip during final approach for better forward visibility and to correct for the crosswind. He straightened out the aircraft prior to the wheels touching down.

When the wheels touched down, the airplane swerved to the left. The pilot tried to correct by applying right rudder. The left wing hit the ground. The airplane then veered to the right, the prop struck the runway and the airplane nosed over. The pilot stated that the airplane had no mechanical failures or malfunctions during the flight.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate compensation for the crosswind conditions and failure to maintain directional control, which resulted in a ground loop and nose over.

Aircraft: Piper Cheyenne.

Location: Bismarck, N.D.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The aircraft was on approach to the destination airport when the landing gear did not properly extend. The pilot elected to divert to an airport that was better suited to handle the situation. En route the pilot executed the emergency gear extension procedure but it was not successful, as he did not get three green lights indicating that the gear was down and locked.

The pilot did a fly by of the control tower and asked the controller to confirm the status of the gear. The tower controller reported that the left main landing gear appeared to be fully extended, the nose landing gear was partially extended and the right main landing gear was still retracted. Since no further options were available to extend the gear, the pilot executed an emergency landing with the gear partially extended. The airplane touched down on the left main wheel. As the aircraft slowed, the right wing dipped and hit the runway. The airplane went off the right side of the runway and came to rest in the grass. The left main landing gear then collapsed. The post-accident inspection revealed that a hydraulic drain line was ruptured and no fluid remained in the line or hydraulic reservoir.

Probable cause: Rupture of the hydraulic drain line, resulting in a loss of hydraulic fluid and the inability to properly lower the landing gear despite the execution of the emergency extension procedures.

Aircraft: Cessna 172SP.

Location: Clearwater, Fla.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor

What reportedly happened: The pilot was practicing full stop landings. On his first landing he touched down just beyond the runway numbers. On the second approach, the pilot said that his airspeed was too high on short final. The airplane touched down just past the runway numbers and bounced. The pilot did not initiate a go around. The airplane started to porpoise uncontrollably. After several bounces the pilot brought the aircraft to a stop.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper flare and recovery from a bounced landing.

Aircraft: Cessna T210N.

Location: Kalispell, Mont.

Injuries: 2 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The 720-hour private pilot held both an instrument rating and a high performance endorsement. He filed an IFR flight plan and received a clearance from ATC. There was no indication if the pilot received a weather briefing prior to the flight. An AIRMET for icing was in effect at the time of departure. The advisory warned of occasional moderate rime or mixed icing-in-clouds and in-precipitation between 9,000 and 19,000 feet MSL. Weather data indicated widespread areas of IFR conditions. Icing conditions were forecasted, as well as reported, along the pilot’s route of flight. The airplane was not certified for icing conditions.

Approximately 15 minutes after takeoff, while climbing to an assigned altitude of 13,000 feet, radar and radio communications with the pilot were lost. Radar information indicated that at an altitude of approximately 12,000 feet the airplane started a descending right turn, then disappeared from radar coverage. The post-crash examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence to indicate a pre-impact mechanical malfunction of the airplane that may have contributed to the accident.

Probable cause: Loss of aircraft control during climb while in instrument meteorological conditions. Icing conditions were a factor.

Aircraft: Piper Cherokee.

Location: Portland, Maine.

Injuries: 2 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was on a cross-country flight. The airplane had been airborne for three-and-a-half hours. As the aircraft approached the destination airport, the engine began to sputter and lose power. The pilot turned on the electric fuel pump and switched from the right fuel tank to the left tank. About a half mile from the runway, the engine lost all power. The pilot performed a forced landing in a marsh. The airplane flipped on to its back. The pilot told investigators that he did not realize how much fuel he had consumed during the flight, and had he realized how much fuel the flight would require be would have planned for an intermediate fuel stop during the flight.

Probable cause: A loss of engine power due to the pilot’s improper decision not to land and refuel, resulting in fuel exhaustion.

Aircraft: Cessna 210.

Location: Houston, Texas.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: During a flight earlier in the day the pilot noted that when he applied the brakes the airplane would veer to the left. He took the plane up again on a night flight. During the landing the pilot touched down at 90 knots. During the rollout on the asphalt runway, the airplane pulled to the left when he applied the brakes. It did not appear to be slowing down. The pilot told investigators that he allowed the aircraft to go off the runway and into the grass in hopes that friction with the grass would slow the plane down. The pilot repeatedly applied the brakes but still it did not slow and it kept turning to the left. The pilot tried to stop the turn but was unable to do this before the left wing tip hit a Cessna 182 that was parked on the ramp.

Examination of the airplane revealed that the braking system was free of anomalies.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during landing roll. A contributing factor was reported partial loss of brake control.

Aircraft: Piper Super Cub.

Location: Nashville, Tenn.

Injuries: 2 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: According to witnesses, the aircraft took off, then made a steep climbing turn to the left. The nose pitched up more than 80°, then the left wing dropped and the aircraft stalled. It hit the ground in a nose-low attitude. Examination of the airframe, flight controls, engine assembly and accessories revealed no anomalies. An autopsy on the pilot detected marijuana in his system.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed while maneuvering, resulting in an in-flight loss of control, stall, and collision with trees and the ground. A factor was the pilot’s impairment due to drugs.

Aircraft: Quickie Q-200.

Location: Santa Barbara, Calif.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: The pilot said he made a steeper than normal approach in a 12-knot crosswind that resulted in a higher ground speed than he was accustomed to during landing. As a result the aircraft touched down faster than normal. During the landing rollout, the airplane veered off the runway into the grass median. The airplane came up on its nose. When the airplane fell back onto its landing gear, the tail cone was damaged forward of the vertical stabilizer attachment. The pilot attributed his uncoordinated approach and landing to unfamiliarity with the airport, landing with a more aft center of gravity, accepting a landing clearance that resulted in a crosswind landing, and a loose tail wheel.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate compensation for the crosswind condition and failure to maintain directional control.

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