September 2005 accident reports

These September 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 175B.

Location: Cleveland, Texas.

Injuries: 3 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, who had logged 1,220 hours, held a commercial certificate with airplane single-engine land and multi-engine land ratings, and an instrument airplane rating. He also held a flight instructor certificate with airplane single-engine land and multi-engine land ratings as well as an aircraft mechanic certificate, with airframe and powerplant ratings. The purpose of the flight was to locate deer. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, with more than 10 miles of visibility. No flight plan was filed, and the airplane was not reported missing until the following day. No radio transmissions or distress calls were received, and there were no reported eyewitnesses to the accident. The airplane came to rest in a near vertical position with the engine and nose section driven into the ground. Flight control continuity was established at the accident site, and no evidence of pre-impact mechanical failure or malfunction was observed. Based on the condition of the wreckage it was determined that the pilot had lost control of the aircraft at low altitude and spun into the ground.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed resulting in an inadvertent stall/spin. A contributing factor was the low altitude.

Aircraft: North American AT-6D.

Location: Chehalis, Wash.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot had been conducting revenue sightseeing and instructional flights throughout the day. The accident happened on the 11th ride of the day. During the pre-takeoff check, he recorded on the manifest that he switched the fuel selector to the fullest fuel tank, but failed to actually switch the fuel selector. During the takeoff initial climb at about 100 feet above ground level, the engine began to lose power. The landing gear was already retracted and the pilot called for his passenger to extend the landing gear. The pilot switched the fuel selector to the fullest fuel tank and pumped the manual fuel pump. At the same time as the aircraft landed hard on the remaining runway the engine regained power and the pilot took off again. During the climb out the pilot determined that the landing gear was still extended and the right main landing gear torque link was damaged so that the wheel was bent sideways. After discussing the situation with the ground crew, the pilot elected to land the aircraft with the landing gear retracted. During the gear-up landing, the aircraft slid off the runway and into a muddy area. It hit a runway taxi light and raised manhole cover before coming to a stop.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to follow the checklist to switch to the fullest fuel tank prior to departure, which resulted in fuel starvation and a loss of engine power followed by a hard landing, bent landing gear and an intentional wheels up landing.

Aircraft: Piper Seminole.

Location: Fertile, Minn.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The multi-engine instructor and a pilot receiving instruction were working on singe-engine approaches and landings. The flight instructor simulated engine failure by retarding a throttle. When this was done without deploying the landing gear the gear warning horn sounded. The horn continued to sound while the pilot performed air work. The flight instructor stated that a midfield check was done but the position of the gear was not verified. The flight instructor stated that they did not perform the final check to determine the gear position. The aircraft landed with the gear retracted. The instructor told investigators that because they had heard the gear warning horn for so long during the air work, they no longer noticed it, therefore did not heed the warning and landed with the gear retracted.

Probable cause: The failure to extend the landing gear prior to touchdown, and the flight instructor’s inadequate supervision of the flight.

Aircraft: Cessna 152.

Location: Galveston, Texas.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: During the preflight inspection, the 305-hour private pilot visually inspected both fuel tanks and estimated that he would have enough fuel for two hours of flight with an additional 20-minute fuel reserve. The pilot then departed and climbed to 5,500 feet to perform as an air traffic relay station in support of helicopters operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Upon completion of his mission, while the airplane was heading back to the airport, the engine lost power. Attempts to restore power were unsuccessful. The pilot elected to land in a marshy field. During the landing roll the airplane nosed over, coming to rest on its back. No fuel was present when the airplane’s wings were removed for recovery. The tachometer reading recorded by the pilot before takeoff was 770.9 hours and was noted as 773.2 hours at the accident site. The total elapsed time was exactly two hours and 20 minutes.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper in-flight planning and decisions, which resulted in fuel exhaustion.

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