NTSB Reports: March 2020

Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents.


December 1, 2019, Union City, Tenn.

Cirrus SR22

The pilot later reported the airplane encountered a crosswind gust and drifted left while landing. At touchdown, a second gust lifted the right wing, the airplane drifted off the runway centerline and the left wing dragged in the grass. The airplane left the runway, collapsing the landing gear and resulting in substantial damage to both wing spars.

Automated winds were from 260 degrees at 20 knots, gusting to 28, as the pilot landed on Runway 19 for a crosswind component of 19 knots, gusting to 26. The manufacturer’s documentation stated, “The maximum allowable crosswind velocity is dependent upon pilot capability as well as aircraft limitations. Operation in direct crosswinds of 20 knots has been demonstrated.”


December 1, 2019, San Antonio, Texas

Piper PA-24-250 Comanche 250

At about 1825 Central time, the airplane impacted a parking lot while attempting an emergency landing at the San Antonio (Texas) International Airport (SAT). The private pilot, the flight instructor, and a passenger aboard were fatally injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

While en route, the pilot reported to ATC an engine failure and declared an emergency. The airplane was cleared to land at SAT but, during the approach to landing, it rapidly descended and impacted terrain. Several eyewitnesses reported seeing the airplane in a near-90-degree bank before spiraling to the ground. Video footage depicted the airplane impacting terrain in a near-vertical attitude.


December 2, 2019, Vero Beach, Fla.

Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II/III

The airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a field at about 1240 Eastern time. The solo private pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the operator, the pilot departed on a solo, cross-country flight with full fuel tanks (48 usable gallons) and landed uneventfully at his destination. He intended to switch fuel tanks one hour into the flight, contrary to the flight school’s policy of every 30 minutes, but forgot. He did not switch tanks on the ground prior to departure, nor during the return flight.

In the traffic pattern at the airplane’s home base, its engine lost all power and quit. Unable to glide to a runway, the pilot performed a forced landing in a field, colliding with a tree and separating the left wing from the fuselage. Examination revealed the left wing fuel tank was not breached but contained no fuel. The right wing fuel tank was completely full of fuel. The cockpit fuel selector handle was found in the left tank position.


December 3, 2019, Detroit, Mich.

BAe 125-800A Hawker 800A

At about 0833 Eastern time, the airplane impacted terrain during an ILS approach. The airline transport pilot and copilot were uninjured but the airplane’s right wing sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed for the FAR Part 91 positioning flight; the flight operated on an IFR flight plan.

Earlier, ATC advised the crew a previous flight had reported icing conditions on the approach. According to the pilot in command, the airplane broke out of the clouds about 1500 feet agl and had picked up rime icing during the flight. Spots where the airplane’s TKS anti-icing system’s wing panels joined had an ice buildup. The pilot reported that the right wing “dropped” and a stall occurred. A witness observed the accident airplane exit the runway, roll across an adjacent grassy area and over a taxiway before coming to rest.


December 3, 2019, Nephi, Utah

Experimental Super Cub Replica

The pilot later stated he was planning to perform an off-airport landing on the shore of a reservoir where he had successfully landed many times before. During touchdown, the rear-seat passenger inadvertently applied the brakes, causing the airplane to immediately nose over and come to rest inverted. The airplane sustained damage to a wing strut.


December 6, 2019, Spring Branch, Texas

Beechcraft Model A36 Bonanza

At about 1315 Central time, the  airplane sustained substantial damage during an aborted takeoff. The private pilot and four passengers were uninjured. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the pilot, he topped off the fuel tanks before a one-hour positioning flight, which he estimated consumed 17 gallons. Before takeoff, he loaded four passengers and completed an engine run-up, with no anomalies noted. He held the brakes before applying full power and starting the takeoff roll. When the airplane reached about 80 knots, he tried to lift off but the airplane would not fly. He then reduced engine power, aborted the takeoff and maneuvered the airplane into the grass to slow it down.


December 8, 2019, Flower Pot, Ariz.

Mooney M20C

The airplane impacted terrain at about 1300 Mountain time. The pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-impact fire. Marginal visual conditions with potential instrument conditions and mountain obscuration prevailed. The accident site was discovered by a rancher five days later. There were no witnesses to the impact, but witnesses who observed the airplane on the day of the accident came forward once they discovered that the airplane had crashed.

The witnesses were southbound on Interstate 17 when they took photos of an airplane that flew over their car at low altitude. They reported that weather at the time consisted of a low ceiling but with good visibility below the clouds. The witnesses further reported that when they were about where the airplane was reported to have crashed, visibility had dropped to about ¼ mile and clouds extended to the ground.

With the witness reports, radar track data for the accident airplane  was identified. It had impacted terrain about a mile east of the interstate on a heading of about 060 degrees. The main wreckage came to rest about 320 ft from the initial impact point. The pilot had purchased the airplane four days before the accident.


December 9, 2019, Victoria, Texas

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan

At about 2017 Central time, the airplane impacted terrain during initial climb. The solo airline transport pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. Night visual conditions prevailed for the Part 135 cargo flight, which operated on an IFR flight plan.

After takeoff and while climbing through 1900 feet msl, the airplane began a series of 15 course reversals, which continued throughout the remainder of the flight. The course reversals alternated between right and left turns, each with more than 90 degrees of heading change. At 2008 and 2011, the pilot told ATC he had “some instrument problem” and then agreed to return to the departure airport. As the airplane continued to make turns, a rapid descent occurred and radar contact was lost. The airplane impacted in a near-vertical attitude.


December 10, 2019, Louisville, Ky.

Piper PA-28-235 Cherokee 235

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1303 Eastern time while landing. The solo commercial pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

While conducting a visual approach to Runway 24, the pilot turned final and descended using the visual approach slope indicator (VASI). Winds were from 280 degrees at seven knots. On entering ground effect, he began to flare the airplane, when suddenly the nose “jerked down” and he was unable to physically manipulate the control yoke. The airplane’s nose gear hit the runway first and collapsed. The airplane came to rest left of the runway centerline, with the nose and left main gear in grass and the right main landing gear still on runway.


December 11, 2019, Phoenix, Ariz.

Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II

At about 0822 Mountain time, the airplane sustained substantial damage during a forced landing. The commercial pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot later stated that, while on final approach, he moved the throttles and realized both engines had lost power. Despite troubleshooting, he was unable to restore engine power and initiated a forced landing to a nearby road. During the landing sequence, the airplane struck unoccupied vehicles prior to coming to rest upright on a road about a mile west of the destination airport. The right wing had separated from the fuselage.


December 12, 2019, Carlsbad, Calif.

Cessna 182P Skylane

The airplane sustained substantial damage at about 1900 Pacific time during a forced landing. The private pilot and passenger were not injured. Night visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot reported that the engine started to run rough while en route. About a minute later and after troubleshooting, engine roughness increased. The engine monitor appeared to have normal indications. Then the alternator voltage light illuminated, and the engine ran rougher. The pilot saw two “flash explosions” on the left side of the engine and propeller area, followed by the smell of oil in the cabin. The engine monitor then showed the #5 cylinder was “dead.” The pilot diverted to a nearby airport but landed in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5, coming to rest in the far-left lane along the Jersey barrier. The airplane’s nose landing gear had collapsed, the aft fuselage was buckled near the cabin door area and residual oil covered the airplane’s belly.


December 18, 2019, Harrison, Ohio

Cessna 172F Skyhawk

At about 1910 Eastern time, the airplane impacted trees and a fence during a forced landing resulting from loss of engine power, sustaining substantial damage. The pilot and flight instructor were not injured. Night visual conditions prevailed.

While climbing out on a practice missed approach, the flight instructor simulated an engine failure. The pilot responded by entering a power-off approach to runway they had overflown. At about 200 feet agl, the flight instructor advanced the throttle to clear the engine and discovered the engine had stopped producing power. The flight instructor took control; the airplane struck trees and a three-foot-high fence before landing safely on the runway. Examination revealed substantial damage to the outboard left wing.


December 28, 2019, Lafayette, La.

Piper PA-31T Cheyenne I/II

The airplane impacted terrain at about 0921 Central time, shortly after takeoff. The commercial pilot and four passengers were fatally injured; one passenger sustained serious injuries. Two individuals inside a nearby building sustained minor injuries and one individual in a car sustained serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-impact fire. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.

The flight’s ADS-B data started at 09:20:05 as the airplane climbed through 150 feet msl in a right turn. At 09:20:13, the airplane started rolling back toward wings-level. At 09:20:20, the airplane rolled through wings-level to the left. The airplane was tracking 232 degrees; altitude was 475 feet and climbing, and it was accelerating through 165 KCAS.

The airplane continued to roll steadily to the left. At its peak altitude of 925 feet msl at 09:20:40, bank angle was about 35 degrees left, track was about 200 degrees and airspeed was about 172 KCAS. The airplane began descending while continuing to roll left, reaching a 70-degree bank at 09:20:52 while descending through 600 feet msl, at between 2000 and 3000 fpm. A low-altitude alert was issued by ATC, but the pilot did not respond. The airport’s automated observation at 0853 included wind from 120 degrees at five knots, an overcast at 200 feet and ground visibility of ¾ mile.


December 29, 2019, College Park, Md.

Grumman American AA-5A Cheetah

At 1448 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain and houses shortly after takeoff. The solo private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.

Radar data depict the airplane departing Runway 15 and climbing as it tracked slightly right of the extended runway centerline. Climbing through about 1200 feet msl, the pilot established communication ATC and was instructed to climb to 5000 feet and turn to 310 degrees when climbing out of  1700 feet. The airplane turned right and climbed to about 1900 feet before entering a spiraling descent. The controller issued a low-altitude alert as the airplane descended through 700 feet—at 1447, the final radar target was near the accident site at an altitude of 525 feet and 153 knots groundspeed.

Multiple witnesses reported hearing the airplane’s engine noise before it impacted in a residential area. All major components were accounted for at the scene, which included a wreckage path about 170 feet long, oriented on about a 250-degree heading. Debris was spread between two houses, across a street, and into the driveway and carport of a third house. All three houses were damaged. Rotational scoring was present on the heading indicator’s gyro and housing. The vacuum pump’s rotor displayed several fractures consistent with impact damage and its vanes were undamaged. Automated weather included calm winds, visibility of two statute miles, with an overcast ceiling at 500 feet.


December 29, 2019, Robstown, Texas

Cessna 182F Skylane

The pilot refueled both wing tanks before pushing the airplane back from the self-serve pump for his night flight back home. However, the propeller turned slowly and the engine did not start, so he elected to hand prop the airplane. He set the throttle, mixture and parking brake, and after several attempts the engine started, appearing to be at idle. Shortly, engine power increased and the airplane began to roll forward. Before he could get into the cockpit to stop the plane, it impacted the fuel station’s credit card machine.

Examination revealed substantial damage to the airframe belly and lower firewall, plus the cowling and propeller (and to the credit card machine). The throttle’s friction lock was working; however, the airplane’s parking brake did not function as intended.


December 21, 2019, Olathe, Kan.

Mooney M20S Eagle/Eagle 2

At about 1606 Central time, the airplane impacted terrain during takeoff from Runway 18. A post-impact ground fire occurred. The private pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was destroyed. Visual conditions prevailed.

A witness reported the airplane rotated at a much slower speed than would be expected and immediately started to climb at a very sharp departure angle. As it gained altitude, airspeed bled off to the point that the left wing stalled, causing the plane to nose over in that direction and continue its trajectory straight into the ground just east of the runway.


December 31, 2019, Elk, Calif.

Cessna 175 Skylark

After completing an aerial observation flight, the pilot simulated an engine-out approach to an open field. At about 40 feet agl, the pilot applied full engine power and raised the nose. The airplane seemed to accelerate, but the descent was not immediately arrested. The airplane continued to descend, and its left main landing gear struck a bush. Subsequently, the wing struck terrain and the airplane cartwheeled before coming to rest upright. The pilot was not injured.


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