June 2005 Accident Reports

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: Piper Seneca.

Location: Telluride, Colo.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot had approximately 2,100 hours, including 400 in multiengine aircraft. According to company records the pilot had flown that particular route 22 times since November 2004, and four times within 30 days of the accident. The company Pilot Flight and Duty Logs indicated the pilot had flown 47.2 hours in the previous 30 days.

Family members, friends, and colleagues noted the pilot was tired and displayed symptoms of burnout. One colleague reported that during an extended flight, he had fallen asleep while acting as pilot in command. Several passengers reported that the pilot had fallen asleep during their flights. Friends and family members reported that the pilot was sick of flying and they were concerned about his lack of time to sleep. They reported that on several occasions the pilot was awakened in the middle of the night to come back to work. On the morning of the accident, the pilot made several requests for someone to accompany him during his flight because he was tired but no one did. The pilot took off and turned toward the cleared route.

According to radar data, the airplane began climbing at a rate of 500 feet per minute but this gradually decreased to just 140 feet per minute over a 24-minute period before the aircraft flew into a mountain.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from terrain. Contributing to the accident were the high, rising terrain and fatigue.

Aircraft: deHavilland Twin Otter.

Location: Rittman, Ohio.

Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The first pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multi-engine land and a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He had 10,154 hours of flight experience.

The second pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multi-engine land and a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He had 6,882 hours of flight experience.

The purpose of the flight was for the second pilot to perform an evaluation of the first pilot, who was recently designated by the operator of the aircraft as a backup pilot.

During the accident flight the pilots discussed single-engine operations, and the first pilot reduced the right engine’s power to idle and feathered the propeller. During the final leg of the single-engine approach to landing, the airplane crossed over a fence near the runway threshold, and the first pilot pitched the airplane down. The nose landing gear contacted the runway hard, and the airplane began to bounce. After several bounces, the first pilot elected to abort the landing and applied full power on the operating left engine. As the airplane pitched up, it yawed to the right and stalled. There was not sufficient altitude to recover and the aircraft hit the ground hard.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper flare and recovery from a bounced landing, resulting in a stall and impact with the ground.

Aircraft: Vans RV-8.

Location: Canandaigua, N.Y.

Injuries: 1 Serious.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot/owner of the homebuilt airplane began the takeoff roll. According to the pilot, as the aircraft rotated it pulled hard to the left and the nose pitched up aggressively. The pilot applied full down elevator but the aircraft seemed to resist the control input. Suddenly the nose pitched down sharply and the pilot quickly applied full up elevator but was not able to prevent the aircraft from pancaking into the ground. When asked about the performance and handling of the airplane, the pilot/owner said that about the time of rotation, he felt a bump, and surmised that he had struck a runway light or that a wheel brake had locked. Examination of the airplane revealed an ink pen lodged beneath the rudder bar. As a result, more force was required for right rudder input than left rudder input. The pilot/owner said he routinely stored pens, unsecured, on the ledge next to his right knee. Further examination revealed a 50-ounce glass jar beneath the front seat, in close proximity to the forward control stick. The jar’s lid displayed indentations that the pilot said had not been there prior to the accident. The pilot said the jar was kept in the airplane as a relief container, and that it was placed on a ledge, unsecured, prior to takeoff. Based on the indentations on the lid investigators determined that the jar had gotten in the way of the control stick.

Probable cause: Partial blocking of the flight controls by unsecured items in the cockpit, which resulted in a loss of control during takeoff.

Aircraft: Cessna 206.

Location: Stony River, Alaska.

Injuries: 3 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The private pilot was in the cruise phase of a cross-country flight when the aircraft engine lost power. The pilot tried to troubleshoot the issue, which included activating the electric auxiliary fuel pump, and noted that the engine fuel pressure was reading zero. Unable to restore engine power the pilot selected an open area for an emergency landing. The airplane came down short of the intended landing site and hit a large stand of trees, then nosed over.

The post-accident inspection of the fuel system revealed that the electric auxiliary fuel pump was inoperative, and the vapor injector orifice in the engine-driven fuel pump was blocked by a 1/8-inch long metal shaving.

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