Slow approach, poor approach

This October 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: Cessna 180. Injuries: 1 Minor. Location: Summner, Maine. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: According to the pilot, while the airplane was on final approach it encountered a downdraft. He applied full power, but could not out-climb the downdraft.

The nearest weather reporting station reported that the wind was from 360° at 6 knots. Another witness reported that the pilot would usually approach at a slow approach speed for landing.

Review of a video recording that was made at the airport on the day of the accident also confirmed that there was little or no wind present during the accident, and that the airplane appeared to approach the runway at a slower airspeed than similar airplanes. Further review of the video also revealed that, while on short final, the airplane had developed a high sink rate and rapidly rolled to the right just prior to impact with the turf runway. No sound of an increase of engine power was recorded until just prior to ground contact. During an interview, the pilot stated there were no mechanical malfunctions with the airplane.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed while on final approach, resulting in an aerodynamic stall and a subsequent hard landing.

For more information: NTSB Identification: ERA11CA024

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