February 2006 Accident Reports

These February 2006 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 150.

Location: Rockford, Ohio.

Injuries: 2 Serious.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot-rated passenger told investigators that he did not see the pilot in command visually inspect the fuel tanks before the flight. The passenger asked the pilot if they needed more fuel and the pilot replied that they “had enough” to reach the destination. The aircraft was in cruise flight in visual meteorological conditions when it experienced a total loss of engine power. Attempts to restore engine power were unsuccessful, so the pilot attempted an emergency landing on a private airstrip. The passenger stated that the pilot realized the airplane was too high during the approach, so he pushed the nose over to descend more quickly. The aircraft landed short of the emergency strip, touching down at an airspeed of 70 knots a few feet from a set of power lines near a house and trees. The pilot pulled back on the yoke in an attempt to avoid the trees and the house. The airplane climbed to an altitude of approximately 50 feet, stalled and hit the power lines. The airplane’s right wing then hit a tree and the aircraft slammed into the ground.

An on-scene inspection of the airplane revealed that there was less than one gallon of fuel in the left tank and no fuel in the right tank. The fuel tanks were intact, and no fuel leaks were noted.

Probable cause: Fuel exhaustion due to the inadequate preflight planning and preparation by the pilot in command. Additional causes were the inadequately planned approach and improper emergency procedure by the pilot.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Prescott, Ariz.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Minor.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land. The winds were variable at 15 knots, gusting to 20 knots. The approach and touchdown were uneventful, but during the landing roll the airplane veered to the right. The pilot was unable to regain directional control and the airplane went off the runway and hit a taxiway marker.

The pilot, who said there were no pre-impact mechanical malfunctions with the aircraft, said he thought he had encountered a crosswind.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain directional control and inadequate compensation for the crosswind.

Aircraft: Beech Bonanza.

Location: San Antonio, Texas.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The 3,000-hour commercial pilot was on an instrument flight plan. He was cleared to the VOR and told to execute the published hold. He noted that the winds were strong and he had to hold an approximately 25° crab to maintain course in the hold. Eventually he was cleared for the approach and instructed to descend to 2,000 feet. He extended the landing gear and slowed the airplane to 90 knots, then reported that he expected a circling approach to runway 14, since he heard the control tower clear another airplane for departure on runway 14. After the airplane descended below the clouds, the pilot had the airport in sight and proceeded towards the runway. During the approach the aircraft experienced a sudden violent roll to the left and pitched down. The pilot applied power to execute a climb but the aircraft would not respond. The airplane was headed for a line of trees. The pilot did not think he had sufficient power and distance to climb over the trees, so he made a forced landing in an open field just south of the airport. The aircraft touched down normally but the pilot could not bring it to a stop before it hit the trees.

An engine inspection was conducted and no abnormalities were found that would have prevented normal operation. The pilot suggested that he had encountered a downdraft.

Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of control while on approach to the runway. Contributing factors were the downdraft and the lack of suitable terrain for the off-airport landing.

Aircraft: Cessna 150.

Location: Fruitland Park, Fla.

Injuries: Serious.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was about three miles from the destination airport when the engine began to run rough. He attempted to trouble shoot the problem, but could not find a reason for the roughness nor could he fix the problem. He looked for a place to make an emergency landing. He spotted an open area and lowered the flaps, but had too much altitude and speed and overshot the landing area. He was unable to avoid hitting a telephone pole with the right wing of the aircraft.

The post-accident investigation determined that the head of the No. 4 engine cylinder separated from the barrel due to fatigue cracking. A review of the maintenance records revealed that the engine was overhauled on Nov. 2, 1993. On June 1, 1999, the No. 4 cylinder was removed, repaired and re-installed. The No. 4 cylinder had accumulated 1,076.9 hours since installation after repair.

Probable cause: The fatigue failure of the No. 4 cylinder resulting in a loss of engine power and subsequent forced landing.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Mitchellville, Md.

Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, who held a variety of ratings including ATP, commercial and CFI, had logged about 2,900 hours at the time of the accident.

The weather at the airport at the time of the accident was reported as a half-mile visibility in snow and fog.

The pilot attempted two GPS instrument approaches to the destination airport. The minimum descent altitude for the GPS approaches was 700 feet. During both attempts the aircraft descended 200 to 300 feet below the MDA.

According to witnesses, after the second approach, the airplane appeared out of the clouds over the south end of the runway, no more than 200 or 300 feet above the ground. It flew the length of the runway. Its flaps were down. At the north end of the runway, the airplane turned away from the airport, then circled to the right in a nose-high attitude, heading back to the runway. The flaps then retracted and the sound of the engine increased. The airplane entered a steep left bank, heading back toward the runway, then nose-dived behind trees near the runway out of view. Seconds later, the sounds of the crash were heard.

Examination of the wreckage revealed no mechanical deficiencies. However, examination of the airplane and its records revealed that the GPS database had expired in October of 2005, and that the airplane was above the manufacturer’s maximum allowable gross weight by 147 pounds.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper inflight planning/decision to attempt a landing in weather conditions below landing minimums, and his failure to maintain airspeed while maneuvering.

Aircraft: Cessna 182.

Location: Black Canyon, Ariz.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land at a dirt airstrip atop a mesa. There is a 100-foot drop-off at both ends of the runway. The pilot told investigators that, as he flew over the runway threshold, he encountered a severe down draft that made the aircraft touch down hard. The nosewheel hit a pot hole and the wheel broke off. A post-impact fire began. The pilot attempted to put out the flames with a handheld fire extinguisher, but it was not enough and the aircraft was destroyed.

Probable cause: The pilot’s encounter with a downdraft at low altitude on short final approach to land.

Aircraft: Cessna P210.

Location: Sarasota, Fla.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot lowered the landing gear. He confirmed it was down and locked using the panel lights in the cockpit and a mirror for the nose gear. The landing was reported to be “…firm but not a hard landing,” but as the nose lowered, the propeller hit the runway.

Post-accident landing gear retraction and extension testing revealed no discrepancies.

The down switches and warning horn operated normally. The electrical strip at the top of the nose landing gear was noted to be oily and dirty where the nose landing gear down switch wires were connected, and a rubber cover contained a small amount of oil and dirt.

Probable cause: The collapse of the nose landing gear for undetermined reasons.

Aircraft: Piper Cherokee.

Location: Leigh Acres, Fla.

Injuries: 2 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: Eight days before the accident the aircraft experienced a loss of engine power and the pilot performed a successful forced landing in a field.

The carburetor was overhauled and reinstalled. The airplane was then flown to a nearby airport where the airplane was inspected again and approved for return to service. The fuel tanks were filled and the accident flight departed. During cruise flight at 2,500 feet, the engine lost power. The pilot was unable to restore power and made a forced landing. He lined up on an empty road, but as he was on final approach a car pulled onto the road, so the pilot went to the side and into brush. The plane flipped over.

The post-accident inspection revealed that the type of carburetor in the aircraft was incorrect per the type certificate of the airplane.

Probable cause: The loss of engine power for undetermined reasons.

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