Aircraft: Mooney M20. Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor. Location: Fayetteville, N.C. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The pilot was in the traffic pattern for landing and was informed by the tower air traffic controller that there was a Gulfstream at his one o’clock position on a five-mile final approach.
The pilot replied “I see the Gulfstream, ah Gulfstream on the final”. A 5.72-mile separation was noted on the controller’s radar screen at that time.
The approach controller cautioned the Mooney pilot about wake turbulence from the Gulfstream and instructed the pilot to contact the tower. At 17:27:54 the tower controller cleared the pilot of the Mooney to land on runway 4. The pilot acknowledged the transmission.
A minute later the controller cautioned the Mooney pilot about wake turbulence from the Gulfstream. The response from the accident airplane was unintelligible.
A witness on the ground stated that the Mooney stalled about 8 feet over the runway and landed hard. The Mooney pilot applied full engine power and attempted a go-around, however, the Mooney went off the runway, across the ramp and hit a pole before coming to rest in a grass area past the parking ramp.
The pilot stated he encountered wake turbulence from the Gulfstream that landed ahead of him and lost airplane control.
The required separation in accordance with FAA regulations was four miles. FAA guidance states that a pilot landing a smaller airplane behind a larger airplane on the same runway should stay above the larger airplane’s final approach path and land beyond it to avoid an encounter with wake turbulence.
The accident pilot received two warnings about wake turbulence. Investigators determined that it is likely that the pilot did not land beyond the Gulfstream’s touchdown point, and the airplane encountered wake turbulence, which led to the off-runway excursion and on-ground collision with a pole.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate separation behind a large airplane during landing, which resulted in an encounter with wake turbulence and a loss of control.
NTSB Identification: ERA12LA184
This February 2012 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.