The 16,900-hour ATP, 69, who was type rated in a Sikorsky SK-76 helicopter, Beech BE-300 and Fairchild Swearingen SA-227 airplanes, was flying a Cricket MC12, a twin-engine experimental design, that was estimated to be at least 30 pounds above the design gross weight of 375 pounds, but 15 pounds under the builder-designated gross weight at the time of the accident.
Because the airplane was an experimental amateur built airplane, the builder can waiver from the design criteria, including gross weight. According to FAA records, the pilot purchased the plane on Dec. 6, 2002. No maintenance records were located.The airplane took off a 3,004-foot runway in Doylestown, Pa., and climbed to an altitude of about 2,100 feet. It then began a shallow climb and proceeded about ½ nautical mile west-northwest from the departure end of the runway flying at a low altitude.
Two witnesses reported hearing sounds consistent with an engine malfunction, while another witness located less than 200 feet from the accident site did not hear sputtering sounds.
It appeared the plane was heading for a road for a forced landing when it pitched up, rolled to the left, and hit power lines, resulting in an explosion, then crashed to the ground. The pilot was killed when the aircraft burned.
The examination of the heat-damaged engines revealed good compression in each cylinder. Both propeller blades of the right propeller were fractured, consistent with the engine developing power at impact, while both propeller blades of the left propeller were not fractured, which was consistent with the engine not developing power at impact. The reason for the lack of power from the left engine could not be determined.
Though it could not be determined whether the pilot intentionally remained close to the runway for more than two thirds of its length, this would have been different from his past practices.
Investigators noted that a prudent pilot would have initiated a normal climb after rotation for safety purposes. Therefore, the lack of climb performance should have been a clear indicator to the pilot to abort the takeoff, which he could have safely performed within the remaining runway distance.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s failure to abort the takeoff after detecting the airplane’s degraded performance. Contributing to the accident were the likely loss of power from the left engine for reasons that could not be determined, and the operation of the airplane above the design gross weight, which resulted in decreased single-engine performance.
NTSB Identification: ERA13LA263
This June 2015 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.