Passenger’s attempts to help end in emergency landing

These October 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: Beech Travel Air.

Location: Greensboro, N.C.

Injuries: 2 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: During cruise flight, the pilot experienced a loss of power in one engine. The pilot attempted to identify which engine had lost power by noting which way the nose of the aircraft yawed since usually an aircraft’s nose yaws in the direction of the engine not producing power. When the nose yawed to the right the pilot deduced that the right engine was not producing full power. The pilot shut down the right engine and feathered the propeller to reduce drag. The aircraft could not hold altitude. The pilot selected a nearby landfill for an emergency landing.

During the emergency landing, the main landing gear collapsed. After the pilot and passenger exited the airplane, the passenger told the pilot that he had applied right rudder after the initial loss of engine power in an attempt to help the pilot maintain directional control of the airplane.

Post-accident examination of both engines failed to disclose any abnormalities, while 35 gallons of fuel was recovered from the fuel system.

Probable cause: Power loss for undetermined reasons and the pilot mistakenly shutting down the operating engine when the passenger interfered with the rudder pedals.

Aircraft: Piper Archer.

Location: Pageland, S.C.

Injuries: 1 Serious.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed

What reportedly happened: The student pilot was making an approach to land on runway 5. According to a witness, winds were from the northeast at 13 knots with gusts from 22 to 26 knots. The student elected to do a go-around. During the go-around, the aircraft made an abrupt 90° turn to the left, stalled and hit trees. The plane cut a vertical swath through the trees. Both wings were separated from the airplane and the empennage was damaged. The carburetor heat lever was found in the off position, the throttle control lever was half-open, the mixture control lever was retracted 1/2 inch, and the flaps were extended.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain flying speed during the go-around, which resulted in a stall and the subsequent collision with trees.

Aircraft: Beech Duke.

Location: Arlington, Wash.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot lowered the landing gear before entering the downwind leg to runway 34. The airplane touched down, and began to decelerate. As the aircraft slowed, the left wing dropped and it became apparent that the left main landing gear had failed. The airplane slid to a stop.

Examination of the airplane’s main landing gear system did not disclose any pre-impact damage. Both the outboard and inboard landing gear doors were intact and remained attached. Erosion type damage, including longitudinal striations, was noted on both doors. The left inboard gear door was bent, approximately 45°, in the direction of the gear hinge. The outboard section of the right inboard gear door was curled inboard, opposite the direction of the hinge. The airplane’s retractable courtesy step, which actuates simultaneously with the landing gear, was in the down and locked position. The owner reported that, with the exception of a leaking left landing gear strut, there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane prior to the accident.

A witness told investigators that the airplane’s left wing dropped during landing and he heard what was described as the airplane’s engines power up, followed by a rapid deceleration of the engines. The witness confirmed that as the aircraft decelerated, the airplane settled to the ground, eventually coming to rest on its belly.

Probable cause: Main landing gear collapse during the landing rollout for undetermined reasons.

Aircraft: Cessna 195.

Location: Addison, Texas.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: The 261-hour private pilot was attempting to land the tailwheel-equipped aircraft on runway 15, which is 7,202 feet long by 100 feet-wide and paved. The pilot reported that the winds were gusting, but the automated weather reporting station at the airport reported the winds as 170° at 10 knots. The pilot, who had logged 35 hours in C-195s, said that after touchdown the airplane veered off the right side of the runway. Efforts to get it back onto the paved surface were unsuccessful and the right main wheel assembly separated from the landing gear strut. The airplane ground looped, coming to rest in the upright position.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain directional control while landing.

Aircraft: Beech Baron.

Location: Providence, R.I.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: While en route to the aircraft’s home airport, the pilot noticed that a landing gear system circuit breaker had tripped. He reset the breaker. Upon arriving in the vicinity of the destination airport, the pilot selected the landing gear down position, while watching the circuit breaker to see if it would trip again, which it did. He then lowered the flaps. The pilot did not notice the landing gear position lights were red, indicating that the gear was still in the up position. The aircraft landed with the landing gear retracted, substantially damaging the airplane. The pilot told investigators that he did not double-check the gear position lights prior to landing.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to verify landing gear extension after a landing gear malfunction.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Punta Gorda, Fla.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot stated that when the aircraft was about three n.m. north of the Charlotte County Airport, a bird appeared to his left. The bird was on a collision course. The pilot banked in an attempt to avoid a collision but heard a “crash.” He determined that the right horizontal stabilizer had been hit by the bird and noted that the rudder and pitch control were affected. He proceeded to the destination airport and landed uneventfully.

Probable cause: The in-flight collision with a bird, which resulted in substantial damage to the airplane.

Aircraft: Waco YMF.

Location: Kensington, N.H.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: The pilot and flight instructor were practicing soft field landings on the turf runway. During the landing rollout, the right main landing gear collapsed and the airplane nosed over.

The post-accident investigation detected a fracture of the right main landing gear around a weld where the gear attached to the spindle assembly. Metallurgical examination of the fracture revealed features typical of an overstress separation, with no evidence of fatigue cracking.

Probable cause: An overload fracture of the right main landing gear during the landing roll.

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