December 2005 Accident Reports

These December 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 Twin Comanche.

Location: Raymond, Miss.

Injuries: 3 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The purpose of the flight was to deliver the aircraft to where an annual inspection was to be performed. The airplane had been parked on the ramp of the departure airport for a decade and had been flown only 15 hours in that time.

The pilot had a commercial certificate, however his logbook was not located. A review of his medical records showed that the pilot listed his total flight time on his last medical application in 2005 as 4,000 hours. Investigators noted that this was the same figure listed when the pilot applied for a medical certificate in 1984. There was no evidence of flight time accrued between 1984 and 2005.

According to witnesses, during the takeoff roll it sounded as if the engines were not producing full power but the aircraft was able to lift off. The plane climbed to an altitude of 100 feet AGL, then there was a loud bang and it rolled 60° to the right. The nose then dropped. The plane hit the ground nose first, bounced, spun around and slid to a stop and burst into flames. The fire consumed the cabin, forward fuselage and center portions of both wings, including both fuel tanks. The landing gear was found in the extended position and the wing flaps were fully retracted.

The post-crash investigation determined that the right engine was not producing power at the time of impact.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain Vmc (velocity minimum control) on initial climb, resulting in a loss of control.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Lawrence, Kan.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The student pilot was practicing solo touch and goes. During the takeoff roll the airplane drifted to the left and went off the runway. The student was unable to maneuver the airplane back onto the runway so he elected to continue taxiing through the grass and snow. While taxing through this area, the aircraft encountered a drainage ditch that was obscured by snow. Both the propeller and empennage struck the ground and were bent.

Probable cause: The student pilot’s improper decision to continue taxiing through the field after losing control during the takeoff roll.

Aircraft: Cessna 182.

Location: Lansing, Kan.

Injuries: 3 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: While in cruise flight, the pilot became ill and decided he could not continue safely to the destination airport. Neither passenger was a pilot. The pilot initiated an emergency landing in a field a few miles from the airport. During the landing, the nose gear of the airplane hit an embankment. The impact separated the nose gear from the airplane and buckled the firewall.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inability to maintain aircraft control during the forced landing, which resulted in a collision with terrain. A contributing factor was the pilot becoming ill during cruise flight.

Aircraft: Piper Seneca.

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: During takeoff rotation the airplane pitched up violently. The pilot lost control and the airplane climbed to approximately 200 feet. The pilot regained control of the airplane and conducted an emergency landing. The airplane slammed onto the runway hard enough to force the nose gear strut through the forward bulkhead and cockpit instrument panel. The aircraft veered off the right side of the runway.

The post-crash inspection revealed that one of the two bolts required on the stabilator trim arm was missing. A review of the aircraft logbooks revealed that a repair had been performed on the stabilator some 13 hours before the accident.

Probable cause: Maintenance personnel’s improper installation of the stabilator trim arm, which resulted in separation of a bolt, loss of control during takeoff, and a subsequent hard landing.

Aircraft: Cirrus SR22.

Location: Houston, Texas.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was a 4,100-hour Airline Transport Pilot. According to data downloaded from the engine monitor the pilot taxied the airplane for an extended period of time, covering more than a mile of ramp and taxiway prior to the right brake catching fire. The pilot and his two passengers were able to get out of the airplane unassisted. The line staff used fire extinguishers to put out the fire.

The engine data showed that in some instances the aircraft reached speeds up to 25 knots. The pilot slowed down at these times by activating the brakes rather than reducing the throttle. According to the Pilot’s Operating Handbook, taxiing is to be done with minimum power needed for forward movement. The POH warns that “excessive braking may result in overheating or damaged brakes. Damage due to overheated brakes may result in brake system malfunction or failure.”

Probable cause: The pilot’s excessive taxi speed and excessive use of brakes.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Waycross, Ga.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: A student pilot was receiving instruction from a CFI. The focus of the lesson was takeoffs and landings. The first two went well but, according to the CFI, the third landing was very hard and the lesson was terminated. A mechanic later inspected the airplane and noted that the rim of the nose wheel was bent and the firewall buckled.

Probable cause: The student pilot’s improper landing flare and the CFI’s inadequate supervision, resulting in a hard landing.

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