NTSB Reports: August 2020

Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents


May 2, 2020, Palmyra, Ill.

Yakovlev Yak-52

At about 1600 Central time, the airplane was destroyed when it struck terrain during an impromptu aerobatic maneuver. The solo pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

A pilot-rated witness observed the airplane make a low pass down the runway toward the south at 20-30 feet agl. He described the airplane pitching up five to 10 degrees, and climbing to 100-200 feet agl beyond the runway’s end. It then entered a slow roll to the left. As the airplane rolled past inverted, the witness became concerned that the pilot did not have enough altitude to perform the maneuver. He lost sight of the airplane as it descended and was passing about 270 degrees of roll. Another witness saw the airplane as it began the left roll and then “nose-dived” steeply toward the ground.

May 2, 2020, Bowling Green, Ky.

de Havilland DH-4

After taking off on the restored airplane’s first flight, the pilot noticed the airplane required right aileron input to keep the wings level. By the time the airplane reached a downwind leg, the problem had worsened, requiring nearly full right aileron to maintain control with both hands. Nearing the base leg, he was unable to keep the wings level and the airplane developed into a slip, and he was unable to prevent the airplane from turning left. The airplane descended, touched down in the grass to the right of the runway, and came to rest nose down, with the wings partially separated from the airframe. Examination revealed the aileron control system was intact but, due to damage, its rigging could not be evaluated. The pilot was uninjured.

May 2, 2020, Fresno, Calif.

Cessna 172N Skyhawk

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 0930 Pacific time when it was involved in an off-airport landing following a partial engine failure. The pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

This was to be the third flight after maintenance had been performed on the airplane, and the pilot planned to stay in the local area. The takeoff from Runway 30 was normal until reaching 300 to 400 feet agl, when the engine began to surge and lost power. The pilot verified throttle and mixture controls were fully forward and executed a 180-degree turn back toward the airport. The pilot landed on Runway 12, but the airplane continued off the end of the runway and collided with a fence before crossing the two westbound lanes of a road and coming to rest in the median.

May 3, 2020, Delta, Colo.

Rans S-12 Experimental LSA

At 1110 Mountain time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain during a test flight after restoration. The solo private pilot sustained fatal injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane owner stated the pilot had been restoring the airplane for almost two years and, the day before the accident, told him he was close to having the airplane flyable. A witness saw the airplane take off from Runway 14, appearing to be under control. Another witness heard the engine repetitively going from full power, then backing off and returning to full power. When he saw the airplane, he thought the wings were rocking. The airplane banked to the right, was very low, and pitched “a lot.” Three or four seconds later, the airplane impacted the ground.

May 3, 2020, Athens, Ga.

Mooney M20K 231

While on approach to land, the pilot lowered the landing gear, and confirmed it was down and locked by observing the panel and floor indicators in the cockpit. However, during the subsequent landing roll, the left main landing gear collapsed. The airplane veered off the left side of the runway into a ditch. Examination revealed that the left wingtip spar was buckled, and the torque tubing associated with the left main landing gear was bent and/or broken. A logbook review did not reveal any recent related maintenance and, due to the damage, a gear retraction test or rigging check could not be performed.

May 6, 2020, Gonzales, Texas

Cessna T240 TTx

At about 1650 Central time, the airplane was substantially damaged in a runway excursion during a botched go-around attempt. The private pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airspeed on final approach was about 130 knots, so the pilot extended the speed brakes to reduce the speed. The airplane touched down approximately one-third of the way down the runway at about 100 knots. The pilot stated he did not believe the airplane would be able to stop on the remaining runway and decided to execute a go-around. He added full engine power and left the flaps at the takeoff (12-degree) position. He did not recall retracting the speed brakes and noted the airplane seemed to get “no lift.” The airplane subsequently departed the pavement and came to rest about 200 yards beyond the end of the runway in a field, with a damaged right wing and engine mount.

Examination revealed the cockpit speed brake switch was in the UP position. The manufacturer’s balked landing (go-around) checklist includes retracting the speed brakes. According to the manufacturer, the speed brakes will not retract automatically when pressing the go-around button or with throttle lever advancement. The pilot commented that the go-around could have been initiated earlier.

May 7, 2020, Fort Worth, Texas

Cessna T210L Turbo Centurion

The airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain after an apparent engine failure for unknown reasons. The solo pilot was fatally injured; visual conditions prevailed. 

After a complete trip around the pattern, the airplane made a full-stop landing and taxied back for another takeoff. Shortly thereafter, the radioed he was “going down.” A witness heard a “loud strong engine sound” before power was reduced “suddenly and drastically to a low idle.” He saw the airplane “level for a few seconds,” then saw it descend slowly toward the ground. The wings banked slightly one way, then the other. “The airplane continued flying straight while descending and the wings began to rock slightly. About 10 to 20 feet above the tree line, it appeared the plane’s rate of descent accelerated into the trees.”

A post-crash fire erupted. Subsequent examination of the relatively undamaged right wing revealed an empty fuel tank.

May 8, 2020, San Antonio, Texas

Beech 1900C

At about 2050 Central time, the airplane sustained substantial damage when its left main landing gear failed. The solo airline transport pilot was uninjured. Night visual conditions prevailed for the Part 135 cargo flight.

During initial climb, the captain unsuccessfully attempted to retract the landing gear. After recycling the gear with the same result, the captain elected to leave the landing gear extended and continued to the planned destination, where more services would be available. He climbed to 8000 feet msl and maintained a speed below the airplane’s maximum landing gear extended speed (VLE).

On arrival at the destination, the captain noted three green lights, indicating the landing gear was down, locked and safe for landing. As the airplane touched down on the runway, the left main landing gear collapsed, followed by gear-unsafe annunciations. The left wing tip contacted the runway and the airplane departed the pavement onto an adjacent grassy area where it came to rest. Examination revealed the left main landing gear drag brace had fractured.

May 9, 2020, Haskell, Okla.

Titan Tornado S Experimental LSA

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 0645 Central time during an off-field precautionary landing. The solo student pilot sustained serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

The student pilot later stated the airplane had experienced uncommanded yaw on previous flights. In an attempt to resolve the problem, he fabricated winglets from composite material and attached them to the stabilator with rivets and glue. Test flights conducted in the traffic pattern revealed the undesired yaw was eliminated. The accident flight’s purpose was to further test the wingletted stabilator. As he leveled off at 2000 feet msl, the airplane began an aggressive vibration, He slowed the airplane and began a descent but the thumping and vibrating continued. As he maneuvered for an off-field emergency landing, the airplane rolled inverted and descended into trees.

Examination revealed the stabilator control horn was fractured and disconnected from the push-pull tube due to overstress from gross mechanical deformation. The part also exhibited impact damage from the stabilator moving from control stop to control stop during the flight. The airplane kit manufacturer later stated that winglets added to the stabilator would change the balance of the control surface and cause flutter.

May 9, 2020, Byron, Calif.

Bellanca 8GCBC Scout

At about 1319 Pacific time, the airplane was destroyed when its pilot lost control during an attempted glider-towing operation. The pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Following a normal takeoff, the tow airplane initiated a slight right turn. Shortly afterward, the glider’s canopy opened and began flapping, distracting the glider’s pilot. He briefly became disoriented and turned back toward the airport. A witness stated there was a 30-to-40-degree angle on the tow line. As both the tow airplane and glider neared the end of the runway, the tow pilot cut the tow line. However, the tow plane was in an “aggressive nose-low attitude” and impacted the runway shortly afterward in what was estimated as a 45-degree nose-down attitude. A post-impact fire ensued. The glider executed a 180-degree right turn and landed uneventfully.

May 12, 2020, Hollywood, Fla.

Piper PA-34-300 Seneca

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 0900 Eastern time after an engine failure and consequent inability to maintain altitude. The flight instructor was seriously injured; the student pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the flight instructor, halfway to the practice area, the right engine failed. He followed the checklist and secured the right engine, then turned back toward the departure airport. However, the airplane was unable to maintain altitude and he maneuvered to land on a city street. While descending, the airplane struck powerlines, impacted a residential road and slid about 750 feet before striking a tree on the right side of the road. The flight instructor was exiting the airplane when an explosion occurred and a post-crash fire ensued.

May 12, 2020, Land O’ Lakes, Fla.

Beech F33A Bonanza

At about 1125 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain as its pilot attempted to return to the airport with a rough-running engine. The solo pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Witnesses observed the pilot perform a normal engine run-up, but as soon as the engine reached full power during a takeoff attempt, it began to sound rough. The pilot reduced power and taxied to the opposite runway end before performing another run-up, which also seemed normal. Again, however, the engine began to run rough when it reached full power for takeoff. The pilot taxied to the original runway, repeated the run-up and made a third takeoff attempt. As the engine reached full power, it began to run rough again, but the pilot continued the takeoff, barely clearing trees, according to witnesses. One witness radioed the pilot to advise he had a rough-running engine. The pilot replied, “Yeah, returning,” followed by, “going down.” The airplane came to rest upright in the backyard of a vacant residence about ½ mile west of the departure end of Runway 32.

May 14, 2020, Tucson, Ariz.

Cessna 172P Skyhawk

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 0950 Mountain time during an off-airport landing following engine stoppage. The solo pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed for the aerial survey flight.

About three hours and 50 minutes into the flight, the engine began to sputter. The pilot verified the fuel selector was in the “both” position, checked the magnetos and pushed the mixture full forward. He pumped the throttle and was able to get a surge in engine power, but it could not be sustained. He initiated a forced landing to a road. However, the airplane encountered a downdraft and landed short of the road. Examination revealed the fuel selector was in the “both” position. The left fuel tank was empty and the right fuel tank contained “a large quantity of fuel.”

May 15, 2020, Colchester, Ill.

Cessna 172M Skyhawk

The solo private pilot reportedly used a wire to check the fuel tanks prior to takeoff. He was in a dark hangar and not wearing his glasses, but thought he had “an inch or so” of fuel in the tanks and departed. During the flight, the engine “sputtered” and lost power. The pilot turned toward the destination airport but lost airspeed, so he lowered the airplane’s nose and performed a forced landing, impacting trees. Examination revealed the fuel tanks were empty and there was no fuel odor at the scene. The pilot was seriously injured.

May 27, 2020, Cambridge, Ohio

Beech 35-A33 Debonair

At about 1458 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with trees during a forced landing. The solo pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

While en route at 1452 and receiving VFR flight-following services from ATC, the pilot reported an unspecified issue and his intent to divert to a nearby airport. At 1454, the pilot declared an emergency due to an engine issue and reported an airport at his one o’clock position, but a minute later informed ATC he could not glide to the facility  Shortly, he stated he was going to land in a field. Witnesses saw the airplane at low altitude with a rough-running engine. The airplane impacted trees a few feet above ground level in a level attitude. Examination revealed fuel streaking from the lower right side of the engine compartment but no evidence of an engine mechanical malfunction.

May 31, 2020, Carlinville, Ill.

Piper PA-28-235 Cherokee 235

The airplane was destroyed at 1546 Central time when it impacted terrain. The pilot and his three passengers were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane’s ADS-B data show it in cruise at 5500 feet msl at 1543:19, when it entered a left turn, momentarily reversing course from northeast to the southwest. The left turn continued with a significantly decreased turn radius until the airplane was again on a northeasterly course. At about 1545:27, at 5600 feet, the airplane entered a right turn. Twelve seconds later, it began a right descending spiral until the final data point at 1546:05. The average calculated rate of descent from the apparent beginning of the spiral descent and the final data point was about 6900 fpm. The accident site was located about 0.15 miles north of the final data point.

All major airframe structures were located at the accident site. A video camera and an ADS-B In receiver were recovered and are pending review.


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