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.