NTSB Reports: July 2017

Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents


April 1, 2017, Edgewater, Fla.
Cessna 170B/Grumman AA-5B Tiger

At about 0842 Eastern time, the two airplanes were destroyed in an in-flight collision. The airline transport pilot flying the Cessna and the airline transport pilot flying the Grumman were both fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplanes were part of a five-ship formation flight. Shortly after establishing their initial V-shaped formation, the flight leader called for changing to a left echelon formation. In this formation, the airplanes are arranged diagonally to the flight leader’s left, with each airplane being stacked slightly low, behind, and to the left of the airplane ahead. To accomplish this evolution, the Grumman remained in its position slightly left and behind the leader, while the Cessna and the other two airplanes shifted. The Cessna was to be the number three aircraft, immediately to the left of the Grumman.

According to a fourth pilot in the formation, the Cessna moved into position behind the Grumman and he then saw “parts” coming back toward him on his right side. The Grumman abruptly pitched up with its nose past the vertical and went past him. He then observed something on the right side of the Cessna move upward before its tail began to “slew to the left” and it disappeared from view.

The accident site comprised a -mile-long debris field. The Tiger and Cessna came to rest approximately 220 feet apart. The Cessna’s aft fuselage was completely separated from the rest of its structure, attached only by the control cables for the elevator, rudder and pitch trim. The leading edges of the Grumman’s propeller blades were damaged and displayed semicircular gouges.

April 2, 2017, Blue Earth, Minn.
Cessna 182 Skylane

The pilot reported that while approaching the destination airport, in night marginal visual meteorological conditions, he turned on the pilot-controlled runway lights. He began a descent to the runway, without observing the runway lights or airport, and encountered “ground fog” about 200 to 300 feet agl. He continued descending while referencing the moving map and GPS altitude on his electronic flight bag. Subsequently, while in a left turn, the airplane impacted terrain about one nm south of the runway.

An automated weather observing station, about 14 nm west of the accident airport, recorded visibility at 2 sm, light rain, mist and an overcast ceiling at 300 feet agl.

April 4, 2017, Micanopy, Fla.
Pipistrel Virus SW

At about 0910 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted a pasture. The solo airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The flight departed Sebring, Fla., at 0800, headed for Clemson, S.C. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan was in effect.

Radar data depict the airplane on a northerly track at about 8000 feet msl. The track ended at an east-west oriented line of severe thunderstorms and rain showers extending about 100 nm to either side of the track. The pilot was in contact with ATC throughout the flight; he did not transmit any distress calls.

A large section of the left wing was located on a farm about 4.5 miles south of the main wreckage. The left flaperon was not found. At 0853, the reported weather about 15 nm north of the accident site included thunderstorms, moderate rain, mist and wind from 100 degrees at 10 knots, gusting to 18 knots. The ceiling was broken at 4300 feet and overcast at 7500 feet. Visibility was five sm.

April 5, 2017, Detroit Lakes, Minn.
Cessna T210M Turbo Centurion

The airplane experienced a landing gear collapse at 1410 Central time. The solo commercial pilot was not injured but the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the pilot, the airplane had been experiencing intermittent landing gear problems. The accident occurred at the end of a positioning flight to bring the airplane to a maintenance facility. Before the flight, the landing gear circuit breaker was pulled in order to keep the gear in the down position. Upon landing, the pilot noticed the left wing slightly dropped after touchdown, requiring a correction to maintain runway centerline. Then the right main landing gear slowly collapsed. The pilot was unable to maintain the airplane on runway centerline, and the airplane exited the runway surface. The airplane came to rest upright with its right main landing gear collapsed.

April 7, 2017, Oxford, Iowa
Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee 180

At about 1507 Central time, the airplane collided with terrain following a loss of control. The flight instructor and private pilot were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-impact fire. Visual conditions existed near the accident site at the time of the accident.

A witness located about one mile east of the accident site stated he heard an engine popping and backfiring. The airplane appeared to be heading south-southeast but looked like it wasn’t moving. Its nose then dropped and it entered a “downward spiral.” The witness did not hear the engine at this point. The airplane made eight or nine spirals before it stopped rotating and continued in a nose-down descent. He lost sight of the airplane behind the hillside but heard the impact.

April 7, 2017, Atlanta, Ga.
Cessna 414

The airplane was substantially damaged at 1250 Eastern time when it landed gear-up. The solo airline transport pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot stated that he was at 400 feet agl on a one-mile final when airplane was cleared onto the runway in front of him. This was when the pilot normally would have completed his final pre-landing checklist, including fuel, flaps and landing gear. The pilot noted the wind was “howling,” with gusts to 25 knots. The other airplane was a “distraction,” and he did not perform his final landing checklist after it cleared the runway. At touchdown, the pilot felt the airplane settle. When the airplane came to a stop, the pilot reported that the landing gear handle was in the down position and the circuit breaker was in the off position. Both engines and propellers were damaged, as was the underside of the fuselage and the landing gear doors.

April 7, 2017, Harrisburg, Ore.
Piper PA-46-310P Malibu

At about 1046 Pacific time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain during an instrument approach. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed and an IFR flight plan was in effect.

Preliminary weather reports indicate the airplane was landing in conditions that included strong winds, moderate-to-severe turbulence and low-level wind shear accompanied by precipitation and mountain obscuration due to clouds/mist/precipitation. Several witnesses located near the accident area reported they observed the airplane flying at a treetop level.

April 8, 2017, Sanford, Fla.
Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser

The airplane was destroyed by impact and a post-crash fire at about 1256 Eastern time during a takeoff attempt. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

A witness recorded the flight on his cellular telephone; the video corroborates the witness. According to him, the “airplane accelerated normally for takeoff, pitched up, and continued to pitch up into a full stall, rolled to the right and nosed in….” A post-impact fire ensued. The accident flight was the first one following a two-year restoration of the airplane, which included replacement of the wing and fuselage fabric, flight control cables and electrical wiring.

Manipulating the elevator cables resulted in a nose-up control input deflecting the elevator in the nose-down direction, and vice versa. Examination revealed the elevator control cables were improperly rigged, and were attached to the incorrect (opposite) locations on the upper and lower elevator control horn.

Aviation Accidents

April 10, 2017, Livermore, Calif.
Beech A36TC Turbocharged Bonanza

At about 1030 Pacific time, the airplane landed gear-up after the pilot experienced a flight control malfunction. The commercial pilot was not injured; the airplane sustained minor damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

Approaching for a landing, the pitched up steeply after the pilot disconnected the autopilot. After some oscillations, the pilot reduced engine power, set the landing gear selector switch to down, and extended the flaps. He stated that he heard the landing gear extend, and confirmed that the three green landing gear lights had illuminated. Control forces were so great, however, that he needed to use both hands and his knee to keep the yoke forward. Given the need to maintain strong nose-down force on the yoke, he was unable to reach the autopilot circuit breaker and the elevator trim wheel would not move.

He continued the approach, regulating pitch with engine power, and holding the yoke fully forward. At some point during the approach and ensuing struggle, he inadvertently knocked off his glasses and headset. Although the tower controller made multiple calls during the final approach warning the pilot that the landing gear was not extended, the pilot did not hear those calls. The airplane came to a stop on its belly. First responders noted the landing gear switch was in the down position, and the landing gear and auxiliary fuel pump circuit breakers were both tripped.

Further examination revealed the pitch trim system indicated “18U” (up), and the elevator tabs were in the tab down (airplane nose-up) position. With the dual-yoke control bar in the full-forward position, it obscured elevator pitch trim indicator and left-seat access to most of the circuit breakers, including the autopilot and trim breakers.

April 11, 2017, Houston, Texas
Cessna 172 Skyhawk

The pilot of the float-equipped airplane reported that prior to takeoff, the windsock showed “no significant wind.” During takeoff on the waterway, the airplane initially accelerated as expected. He added that “it became clear that the take-off run was not progressing as anticipated” and decided to abort the takeoff. He brought the power to idle and applied back pressure to the control yoke. The airplane slid onto the grass embankment at the end of the runway and came to rest on the adjacent taxiway. The airplane sustained substantial damage to its fuselage.

Weather observations showed that from about 20 minutes before the accident to 60 minutes after the accident, the wind varied in direction from 360 to 050, and its speed varied from four to 11 knots, with a peak wind of 360 at 30 knots. The pilot departed waterway 17W.

April 12, 2017, Hartsville, Ind.
Temco GC-1B Swift

At about 1310 Eastern time, the airplane impacted trees and terrain shortly after takeoff. The solo commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual conditions prevailed.

Maintenance had recently been completed on the accident airplane as a result of a ground loop event. After the accident pilot and a mechanic inspected the repairs and reviewed the airplane records, the accident pilot completed a brief engine run-up and then performed what appeared to be a normal takeoff roll. Shortly after rotation, at about 35 feet agl, the airplane entered a gradual left roll. The left roll continued until the airplane impacted trees in a near-inverted attitude adjacent to the runway.

April 12, 2017, La Porte, Texas
Cessna 152

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1115 Central time when it nosed over following a forced landing. The solo commercial pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed for the post-maintenance test flight.

According to the pilot, “there was a noticeable lag in the response of the engine” during a low approach, and the engine lost power. Attempts to restore power were unsuccessful. With no runway remaining, the pilot turned the airplane to avoid a ditch; it ended up nosing over. Examination revealed water contamination in the engine’s fuel lines, fuel bowl and carburetor. No water contamination was noted in either fuel tank. According to the pilot, the preflight inspection did not show any evidence of water in the fuel, and there was no engine hesitation or sputtering during the run-up.

April 12, 2017, Monongahela, Penn.
Howard Aircraft DGA-15P

At about 1430 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain during a go-around. The solo commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to witnesses, the airplane initially touched down left of the Runway 26 centerline, but then became airborne and its engine noise increased. The airplane then yawed and banked left, perpendicular to the runway, and the nose pitched up. The airplane then appeared to stall and roll inverted before impacting a ravine about 400 feet left of the runway. One witness had landed earlier in a Cessna 172, noting that a wind gust lifted its right wing and caused it to drift left. Red paint chips consistent with the airplane’s wingtip were observed in ground scars about 200 feet left of the runway and about halfway down its length. Local weather included wind from 280 degrees at six knots, variable from 240 to 320.

April 15, 2017, Williston, Fla.
Cessna 170

The airplane impacted terrain at about 1523 Eastern time, shortly after departure. The commercial pilot and the three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. Visual conditions prevailed.

Security-camera video showed the airplane immediately after takeoff as it climbed to about 600 feet agl. The airplane leveled off just below the clouds, and then its nose pitched down. The airplane descended about 100 feet and leveled off again. Several seconds later, the airplane again pitched down and disappeared from view. The airplane came to rest 543 feet left of the runway, near the departure end. Evidence is consistent with a nose-first impact with the ground.

Local weather at 1519 included 10 miles of visibility and wind from 080 degrees at eight knots, gusting to 17 knots. Apparently, no data on cloud presence, height or coverage were available.

April 17, 2017, Loyalton, Calif.
Socata TB20 Trinidad

At about 1600 Pacific time, the airplane departed Truckee-Tahoe Airport (KTRK) in Truckee, Calif. Since that time, the private pilot and passenger have not been located, and the airplane is missing. Radar contact was lost about 16 nm north of Truckee, and the airplane is presumed to have crashed in remote mountainous terrain. Search and rescue efforts were suspended April 23.

April 20, 2017, Goodyear, Ariz.
Diamond Aircraft DA40 NG

The airplane lost engine power at 0719 Mountain time during a takeoff. The solo student pilot was not injured, but the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

Preflight actions included a check of the airplane’s engine control unit (ECU), with no discrepancies noted. The takeoff was normal until about 400 feet agl when the pilot noticed a change in engine sound. The engine load indicator read 35 percent, and annunciator lights illuminated for ECU A FAIL and ECU B FAIL. The student pilot decided to go under power lines but struck the bottom wire. The airplane touched down, bounced and eventually struck a ditch.


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