June 2005 Accident Report

These June 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: Bellanca Cruisair 14-13-3.

Location: Caliente, Calif.

Injuries: 2 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The purpose of the flight was to return the aircraft to the pilot’s home field. It had been at the departure airport for several months following a landing with the gear up incident. The accident flight was the first flight since the completion of repairs. Both of the pilots held commercial pilot certificates, but neither was instrument rated. The logbook for the pilot/owner of the airplane included a record of the pilot’s flying activities from Feb. 28, 1998, through Oct. 24, 2004, which was the last entry. No evidence of a flight review or any flying endorsement was listed. The pilot had been issued a third class medical certificate in 1992 with the notation “not valid for any class after May 31, 1994.” Witnesses stated that at the time of departure visual meteorological conditions existed at the departure airport beneath an overcast sky condition. The weather deteriorated en route as the aircraft climbed to avoid terrain. The pilots reversed course and commenced flying back toward their departure airport. The airplane’s clearance from the terrain was inadequate and it collided with mountainous terrain at an elevation of 2,380 feet msl while in a right turn. Based on weather reports for the area, investigators determined that as the terrain elevation increased, the pilots encountered less maneuvering room between the terrain and the overlying clouds, and had inadvertently entered instrument meteorological conditions. A motorist, who held a private pilot certificate and was driving near the accident site, reported that the roadway “was foggy” and his visibility was at most 1 mile. The motorist stated his elevation was about 3,000 feet msl.

Probable cause: The inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions and failure to maintain adequate terrain clearance, which resulted in controlled flight into the terrain. Contributing factors were the pilots’ delayed decision to reverse course, and the low clouds, which obscured the rising terrain.

Aircraft: Aeronca 65-TAC.

Location: Harrisonburg, Va.

Injuries: 2 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, who held a commercial certificate, had logged 445 hours, one hour of which was in the same make and model of the accident airplane. He had received a checkout in the aircraft by a CFI a few weeks before the accident. During the accident flight the pilot flew low over the home of a relative. The relative said the aircraft was low enough that he could see the pilot’s and the passenger’s faces as they waved at him. The relative then went inside his house, and shortly thereafter heard the airplane’s engine increase power, then go silent. This was followed by the sounds of impact. The aircraft went down in hilly terrain. The post-crash examination of the aircraft revealed no mechanical anomalies. The carburetor heat knob was found in the off position. Review of an FAA carburetor icing probability chart placed the reported temperature and dew point in the “serious icing at glide power” range. Investigators stated that, based on the condition of the wreckage, it was highly probable that the aircraft had entered a stall/spin situation and the pilot had lacked sufficient altitude to recover.

Probable cause: A total loss of engine power for undetermined reasons, and the pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed, which resulted in an inadvertent stall/spin and subsequent impact with the ground.

Aircraft: Cessna R182.

Location: West Mifflin, Pa.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was preparing to land. He moved the landing gear handle to the “down” position and received an unsafe indication for the nose landing gear. He then attempted to troubleshoot the system and lower the landing gear manually, but without success. A normal landing was performed to the runway. While decelerating through approximately 40 knots, the nose gear collapsed. The propeller struck the runway, and the airplane slid to a stop on its nose. Examination of the nose landing gear revealed that a downlock actuator pin on the landing gear actuator had failed due to fatigue. The broken pin jammed the actuator arm piston, preventing the nose landing gear from attaining the down and locked position. A review of the aircraft maintenance records revealed that a manufacturer’s service bulletin that addressed the inspection and replacement of the downlock pins had not been completed.

Probable cause: The failure of the landing gear actuator downlock pin due to fatigue, which resulted in the nose landing gear collapsing on landing.

Aircraft: Beech Baron.

Location: Midland, Texas.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: The 3,729-hour private pilot was attempting to land. He told investigators that he failed to follow the airplane’s Normal Procedures-Before Landing checklist, which included putting the landing gear down. As a result, the plane landed with the landing gear retracted. Maintenance personnel who responded to the accident and assisted in recovering the airplane reported that the landing gear handle was found in the “up” position. When battery power was applied to lower the landing gear, the landing gear warning horn actuated.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to extend the landing gear, which resulted in a gear-up landing. A contributing factor was the pilot’s failure to follow the checklist.

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