Distracted pilot crashes

This April 2010 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Czech Sportcruiser Injuries: 1 Serious. Location: Millbrook, N.Y. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: According to several witnesses, the airplane’s engine sounded good during the takeoff roll, but at liftoff the wings were rocking and the airplane was not gaining altitude. The airplane banked hard left back toward the airport, and disappeared from view.

The sounds of impact were heard, and the airplane caught fire. Some of the witnesses stated that they saw something fall off of or from the airplane during the turn.

The pilot stated that the canopy had closed, but was not locked. The pilot said he tried to hold the canopy shut and fly the airplane at the same time and did not lock the canopy.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control after takeoff while he was distracted by trying to hold shut the unlocked cockpit canopy. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to lock the canopy prior to takeoff, and the inadequate guidance in the Pilot Operating Handbook regarding canopy locking procedures.

For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: ERA10LA221


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