NTSB Reports: September 2020

Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents


June 1, 2020, Gulf Of Mexico

Jabiru J250-SP LSA

The private pilot departed with slightly less than 36 gallons of fuel aboard for the 262-nm flight, portions of which were over water. About 1.5 hours into the flight, he noticed that the fuel tank quantities were dropping rapidly. The engine subsequently lost all power, and he set up for a ditching in the Gulf of Mexico. After ditching, the pilot and passenger were picked up by a U.S. Navy helicopter and transported to a local hospital. The airplane sank and was not recovered. The pilot reported that the engine consumed 5.5 to 6 gph of fuel and suspected a breach of the fuel system prior to the loss of engine power.


June 1, 2020, Batavia, N.Y.

Beechcraft A36 Bonanza

According to the solo flight instructor, after reaching cruising altitude, an annunciator alerted him to an electrical issue. He advised ATC of the problem and turned back toward the departure airport. Realizing the airplane needed to lose altitude during his approach, he attempted to extend the flaps, however, the flaps did not extend. He continued the approach, forgetting to extend the landing gear, and landed gear-up, causing substantial damage.

After the accident, the pilot realized that he was interrupted during his engine-start checklist and did not turn on the primary or standby alternators during the engine-start procedures; the airplane and its avionics were running on battery power the entire flight, which resulted in loss of electrical power.


June 2, 2020, San Juan, P.R.

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec

At about 1333 Atlantic time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted open water shortly after takeoff. The airline transport pilot and one passenger were fatally injured; another passenger was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed for the post-maintenance test flight.

Earlier, a takeoff attempt was aborted when the airplane veered left after full power was applied. While exiting the runway with the left engine at idle power, it quit. Back at the ramp, the pilot performed complete engine run-ups, including magneto checks and cycling of the propellers, with no reported discrepancies. During the subsequent takeoff attempt, the airplane again yawed left upon full-power application. The pilot elected to continue the takeoff, which the pilot-rated passenger later described as a short/soft-field takeoff procedure. The airplane drifted left of the runway centerline with the left engine not producing full power. While climbing at about 100 fpm at what the pilot-rated passenger later described as a “slow” airspeed, the airplane began turning left when he noted the airplane was in a nose-down attitude. Security video depicted the airplane rolling left past 90 degrees of bank, pitching nose down and impacting water north of the airport.


June 3, 2020, Duluth, Minn.

Icon A5 LSA

The amphibious airplane was substantially damaged at about 1630 Central time when it sank during a takeoff attempt. The pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

About five seconds after applying full power for takeoff, the pilot heard a “loud bang.” He shut down the engine, climbed out, looked back and saw that all three propeller blades were missing. At this point, the airplane started to sink, due to holes in the fuselage, presumably caused by propeller pieces. He and his passenger donned life jackets and evacuated the airplane.

Several days later, the pilot recalled the airplane was washed before the attempted flight. The pilot had placed a portable speaker on top of the airplane to listen to some music while washing it. He did not recall putting the speaker away before departure. The pilot added, “the speaker must have rolled over the engine compartment and into the propellers.” The pilot also stated the music speaker remained missing.


June 3, 2020, Fargo, N.D.

Piper PA-32-260 Cherokee Six 260

At about 1400 Central time, the airplane was substantially damaged in an engine-start fire. The flight instructor and two student pilots were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed for the instructional flight.

According to the flight instructor, one of the students read through the checklist during the pre-flight process. After about two revolutions of the propeller, the engine started and ran for about three seconds before it began to sputter and quit. He then noticed black smoke coming from the engine and continued to crank the engine to “draw the fire into the engine.” However, he noticed fire coming from the cowling and determined “there was no hope in extinguishing the fire with this procedure” and told the two students to evacuate the airplane immediately.


June 5, 2020, Eatonton, Ga.

Piper PA-31T Cheyenne

The airplane was destroyed at about 1520 Eastern time when it apparently suffered an in-flight breakup and collided with terrain. The two pilots and the three passengers aboard were fatally injured. Instrument conditions reportedly prevailed at the flight’s cruising altitude. An IFR flight plan was in effect.

The airplane was in cruise at FL250 when one of the pilots told ATC that he was deviating “to the right a little” to avoid weather. Shortly, one of the pilots advised ATC that they wanted to proceed direct to their destination, which ATC approved. About a minute later, the airplane was observed on radar entering a right turn, followed by a rapid descent. Radar contact was lost at about 1520. There were no distress calls.

Several witnesses observed the airplane descending and took video with their cellphones. These videos revealed the airplane was spinning as it descended, was on fire and trailed black smoke. The main wreckage impacted densely wooded terrain inverted. The outboard sections of both wings and the tail section had separated from the airplane as it descended and were located within three miles of where the main wreckage came to rest. The left engine also separated but had not been located when this report was written.


June 5, 2020, Redlands, Calif.

Cessna 175 Skylark

At about 0801 Pacific time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed.

Available ADS-B data shows the airplane began a descent from 9300 feet msl at 0751:36. Three minutes and 12 seconds later, the airplane descended through 7200 feet. By 0759:15 and after a 270-degree turn to the left, the airplane rolled out on a west-northwesterly heading at 5275 feet msl. About a minute later, the airplane turned left to a southwesterly heading at 3975 feet. The airplane remained on a southwesterly heading and continued to descend until ADS-B contact was lost at 0800:58, at an altitude of 2775 feet msl and about 436 feet northeast of the accident site.


June 6, 2020, New Washington, Ind.

Cessna 172M Skyhawk

The airplane was destroyed at 1523 Eastern time when it collided with terrain. The solo student pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The student pilot was preparing for the private pilot checkride and planned to practice maneuvers. The pilot’s flight instructor was tracking the airplane on his phone until the flight track disappeared about 20 minutes into the flight. Recorded ADS-B data revealed the airplane climbed to about 3000 feet agl and completed three consecutive steep turns to the left. At 1523:09 the airplane entered a descent to the southeast, which developed into a steep dive in excess of 10,000 fpm and a calculated groundspeed of about 170 knots. The final ADS-B data was recorded at 1523:34 and 165 feet agl.


June 7, 2020, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Mitsubishi MU-2B

At about 0425 Central time, the airplane was destroyed during an attempted takeoff. The solo pilot was fatally injured. Night visual conditions prevailed for the FAR Part 135 cargo flight.

Earlier, the airplane diverted to Sioux Falls due to weather at its intended fuel stop. On arrival at the divert field, at 0140 local time, the pilot discovered he had misplaced his cellphone and was unable to contact his dispatch office or the on-call line service technician (LST) for the closed FBO. Eventually, the dispatch office contacted the FBO, seeking information on the flight, and the LST responded to the airport, confirming that the airplane and pilot had arrived.

The airplane’s tip tanks were filled and the flight took off at 0426. Video shows the airplane appeared to have a normal takeoff roll. After rotation, a high pitch angle was established for initial climb and the right wing dropped. As the airplane climbed, the right wing continued to drop with the airplane rolling over on its right side. The airplane nosed over and continued in a nose-down attitude until impacting the ground.


June 10, 2020, Selma, Ala.

Piper PA-32RT-300T Turbo Lance II

The airplane was destroyed at about 1630 Central time when it collided with terrain after the pilot reported engine failure and an in-flight fire. The commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

While in cruise at 15,000 feet msl. the pilot reported an engine “fluctuation” to ATC and was cleared to divert. By this time, the pilot indicated the propeller was turning but the engine had totally failed. Soon after, while in the descent, the pilot stated there was a “fire as well.” When the airplane was about three miles from the divert airport and about 3100 feet msl, radar and voice communications were lost. The airplane impacted a field; all components of the airplane were within the vicinity of the main wreckage.


June 12, 2020, Hampton, Ga.

Van’s RV-8 Experimental

At 1950 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain short of the runway after experiencing an engine problem. The solo airline transport pilot was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

During initial climb after takeoff from Runway 06, witnesses described the engine sound as “missing…popping…not making significant power…and couldn’t get to max power.” Witnesses also saw black smoke trailing in the engine’s exhaust. The pilot announced unspecified “engine problems” over the radio. The airplane then performed a 180-degree turn, presumably to land on Runway 24. But probably because inadequate runway remained, the airplane then entered another 180-degree turn to land on the departure runway. The airplane “stalled” and impacted terrain in a flat attitude at the approach end of Runway 06. The landing gear and cockpit canopy separated, and the wings and the fuselage were substantially damaged.

Examination revealed the engine’s No. 2 fuel nozzle was blocked. The obstruction was cleared with a length of safety wire. Spark plug signatures were consistent with “rich” mixtures in the Nos. 1 and 4 cylinders, and “lean” mixtures in the Nos. 2 and 3 cylinders.


June 13, 2020, Mandan, N.D.

Van’s RV-8 Experimental

The airplane was destroyed at about 1400 Central time when it impacted terrain shortly after liftoff. The solo private pilot sustained fatal injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

Before the takeoff attempt, a witness advised the pilot that the rear seat belt was securing the rear control stick. The pilot subsequently executed what was described as a three-point takeoff followed by a steep climb. The airplane then descended and impacted terrain. Examination revealed the elevator trim tab was in a nose-up position. Seatbelt webbing was consumed in a post-crash fire.


June 16, 2020, Maricopa, Ariz.

Cessna P210N Pressurized Centurion

As the airplane descended on a straight-in approach, turbulence was bouncing it around, requiring frequent power changes while performing the pre-landing checklist. As the airplane entered its landing flare, the pilot heard the gear horn, but it was too late to go around. The airplane landed gear-up and slid to a stop on its belly, causing substantial damage to the lower fuselage. The pilot reported “he omitted extending the landing gear, verifying for a green light or visually checking the mirrors.”


June 22, 2020, Shelby, N.C.

Cessna 150

According to the solo private pilot, he departed in his recently purchased airplane with full fuel tanks. During the flight, ATC requested he adjust his heading but the flight eventually was routed back on course. When about three miles from the destination airport, the engine “sputter[ed].” The pilot performed a forced landing to a field, during which the engine mount and left wing were damaged. Three gallons of fuel were drained from the unbreached fuel tanks. According to manufacturer’s data, the airplane held 26 total gallons of fuel, of which 22.5 gallons were usable. The pilot reported the right fuel gauge was slightly “incorrect.”


June 23, 2020, Imnaha, Ore.

Cessna 182N Skylane

At about 1930 Pacific time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a takeoff attempt from a backcountry airstrip. The private pilot and front-seat passenger were seriously injured; the rear seat passengers were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The landing at the airstrip was uneventful, except for the right main landing gear encountering soft, wet terrain. The pilot extricated the airplane and positioned it for a downhill takeoff. He also walked the runway, but did not find any foreign object debris or soft terrain along the centerline. Takeoff performance was predicted to require about 1600 feet of the 3300-foot-long runway. Preflight inspection and engine run-up were uneventful.

During the ground roll, the pilot felt the airplane begin to lift off the ground early, so he maintained a nose-low attitude to build up airspeed before starting a climb. When he reached midfield, the pilot suddenly felt the airplane slow down and assumed the landing gear had contacted the runway. He wanted to abort the takeoff, but instead decided to fly the airplane as it had suddenly started to climb. Nearing the end of the runway, the pilot shoved the yoke forward after he heard the stall warning horn, but the airplane rolled to the right and impacted the ground.


June 24, 2020, Fredericksburg, Texas

Cub Crafters CC19-180 XCub

The solo private pilot intended to make a full-stall, three-point landing in the tailwheel-equipped airplane with a right crosswind. The airplane touched down on the right main landing gear and tailwheel, followed by the left main landing gear. The pilot maintained full right aileron input during the landing roll; however, when the airplane had decelerated to about 10 knots, he lost directional control and the airplane ground looped to the right, damaging the left aileron and rear wing spar. The pilot stated that he was “hot and tired” after flying at least six hours without an autopilot and that fatigue had contributed to his failure to maintain directional control.


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