Poor inspection results in crash

Aircraft: Remos GX. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Westminister, Md. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was also a mechanic. He disassembled the airplane for storage during the winter. The Remos is designed with foldable wings and a removable tail to facilitate storage and transportation. He subsequently reassembled the Remos and inspected it with the intent of delivering it to a new owner.

He then flew the airplane to an airport where a ballistic parachute system was installed, then departed for another airport to deliver the airplane to the new owner.

According to witnesses on the ground, about 20 minutes after takeoff, when the airplane was about 50 feet above the ground, it suddenly pitched down, then crashed.

Investigators determined that the airplane’s elevator had become disconnected. The flight controls were actuated by a series of push-pull rods. The respective push-pull rods for the left and right ailerons and elevator controls featured a “quick-fastener” to disconnect and reconnect the respective flight control.

The post-crash examination revealed that the elevator quick-fastener was disconnected. In addition, the ballistic parachute system was not activated, and the activation handle, which was mounted on the center console, was found secured with a padlock. The key for the padlock was found on a key ring with the ignition key, which remained inserted in the ignition switch.

The preflight checklist located in the pilot operating handbook required a check of the quick-fasteners and the ballistic parachute activation handle before every flight. Associated placards were also present in the cockpit.

Investigators determined the pilot had at least three opportunities to identify an improperly secured elevator quick-fastener since he assembled the airplane. At least two of those opportunities occurred after the installation of the ballistic recovery parachute system.

While it could not be determined if the pilot would have used the airplane’s ballistic recovery parachute system, his failure to remove the padlock from the activation handle precluded the option of deploying the system during the accident flight.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate preflight inspection, which failed to ensure that the elevator quick-fastener was properly secured, resulting in an inflight elevator control disconnect and subsequent loss of control during the ensuing emergency landing. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to remove the padlock from the airplane’s ballistic recovery system parachute activation handle.

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA395

This June 2012 accident report is are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.


  1. Rick says

    I remember a few years ago, when the Remos was new on the market, checking one out in a tent at Oshkosh. The rep demo’d the folding wings and removable empennage. I tried latching and unlatching the elevator cable and I found the mechanism could have been made more dummy-proof with a slight modification. I commented to that effect at the time, but was paid no credence.

  2. bJS says

    When I was in the Navy we were provided with chutes but I never realized neither I nor the aircraft were safe? Thanks for letting me know!!

    • Tom says

      Did the aircraft you were on in the Navy have a parachute FOR THE AIRCRAFT? I’ll bet it didn’t. Sorry I confused you. I don’t have a problem with pilots wearing personal parachutes. What I have a problem with are bad aircraft designs and/or poor pilotage and/or poor maintenance. Accordingly, I should have stated my comment like the following:

      If you have to rely on a parachute that is built in to the aircraft to support the airplane just in case the airplane comes apart in the air (because of poor aircraft design, bad maintenance, flying into thunderstorms, etc. etc.) then either the pilot or the aircraft (or both) aren’t safe in the first place. For example there is at least one known airplane that has to have a parachute because it won’t recover from a stall. Do you like airplanes that have to have a parachute because they aren’t designed to recover from a stall? Doesn’t make good sense to me.

  3. Tom says

    If you have to rely on a parachute then either the pilot or the aircraft aren’t safe in the first place.

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