Accident Briefs: November 2019

Accident Briefs: November 2019

NOTE: The reports republished here are from the NTSB and are printed verbatim and in their complete form.


Pineville, Louisiana/Injuries: 1 Fatal

The airline transport pilot departed on a cross-country flight to relocate his newly-purchased airplane to his home state. A fixed-based operator employee at the airport reported that the pilot overflew the airport and requested verification that his landing gear were extended. The employee confirmed that they were down. After overflying the runway the airplane descended and impacted trees and terrain.

Another witness reported that after the low pass, the airplane started to climb and then turned right at an altitude of 250 to 300 ft above ground level. He added that as the airplane turned, its tail “wobbled,” which he attributed to a loss of engine power. Then the nose pitched down before it descended below the tree line. The airplane separated into several pieces, and the forward fuselage and engine came to rest inverted behind the empennage.

The signatures on the propeller were consistent with little or no power at the time of the accident. A postaccident examination of the engine, airframe, and flight controls revealed no preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operations. Investigators were not able to ascertain why the pilot asked for verification of the landing gear position. The landing gear were found retracted in the airplane wreckage.

The airplane had been equipped with an aftermarket auxiliary fuel tank system; however, the system installed did not match the specifications of the supplemental type certificate (STC) identified in the maintenance logbooks or any other STC approved for the make and model of the airplane. The system had been installed about 9 years before the accident and before the pilot had purchased the airplane. The airplane had only flown about 4.5 hours since the fuel tanks were installed.

The auxiliary fuel tanks were not vented properly which could have resulted in a vacuum preventing fuel flow through the lines and to the engine. In addition, neither auxiliary fuel tank was equipped with a fuel pickup line inside of the tank. During a turn into the selected fuel tank it is possible that the fuel could unport resulting in fuel starvation and a loss of engine power.

The fuel selector valve was selected to the main tank which was empty; however, it is unknown what position change the pilot may have made following the loss of engine power. Evidence of fuel was found in the fuel lines and fuel pump following the accident. Although the amount of fuel onboard the airplane could not be determined, this evidence indicates there was likely sufficient fuel and that fuel exhaustion did not occur.

Given the configuration of the auxiliary fuel tanks, the engine likely lost power due to fuel starvation. This resulted from the unporting of the fuel due to the auxiliary fuel tank’s improper configuration and occurred during the right turn the airplane entered after the low pass over the airport.

Probable cause(s): The loss of engine power due to fuel starvation, which resulted from the unporting of the fuel during a right turn due to the auxiliary fuel tanks’ improper configuration.


Laramie, Wyoming/Injuries: 2 None

The pilot-rated owner reported that, after purchasing the airplane and receiving initial training the day before and the morning of the accident, he and a pilot-rated friend departed for a cross-country flight to their home airport. He added that, after nearly 9 hours of flying, the pilot-rated friend, who was manipulating the flight controls, offered to land at the destination airport because he had landed there before. The horizon was becoming dark, and they attempted to adjust the panel lights for the instruments but realized that the lights were not functioning, so the owner used a flashlight to illuminate the instruments for the landing.

During the landing, the nose landing gear contacted the ground first, and the airplane porpoised. The second bounce was more severe, so the pilot initiated a go-around to no avail. The owner added that, during the third bounce, the airplane exited the runway to the left and then came to rest nose down.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the engine mount and fuselage.

The owner reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The airport’s automated weather observation system reported that, about the time of the accident, the wind was from 270° at 11 knots. The pilot landed the airplane on runway 30.

Probable cause(s): The pilot’s failure to maintain a proper pitch attitude during landing at night, which resulted in a porpoised landing.


Arthur, Nebraska/Injuries: 1 Fatal

The commercial pilot, who was experienced in aerobatics, coordinated with a friend to perform a flyover of a cattle branding event. Before departing on the flight, the pilot informed his father and that he was feeling very ill and nauseated during the previous flight that day due to in-flight turbulence and informed his friend at the branding event that he may not be able to perform the flyover. The pilot subsequently flew to the cattle branding event and commenced aerobatic maneuvers, which included a loop and rolling maneuver followed by a climb in a vertical pitch attitude. The airplane subsequently rolled left and entered a left-turning spin, which continued to ground contact.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation, and autopsy and toxicology testing of the pilot identified no evidence of physiological impairment or incapacitation. Although the pilot had reported some symptoms before departing on the flight, the nature of his illness was not diagnosed, and no evidence of illness was identified on autopsy. It is possible that the pilot’s undefined symptoms or illness may have contributed to the accident; however, without further evidence, it could not be determined whether or to what extent his symptoms may have affected his ability to recover from the spin maneuver.

Probable cause(s): The pilot’s failure to recover from a spin for reasons that could not be determined based on the available information.

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Daytona Beach, Florida/Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious

The commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger were practicing touch-and-go takeoffs and landings in the tailwheel-equipped airplane. Witnesses reported that, during the third touch-and-go, as the airplane was climbing about 200 to 300 ft above ground level near the end of the runway, the engine lost all power and the airplane turned back toward the runway before spiraling to the ground. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or abnormalities that would have precluded normal operation. Each of the wing fuel tanks was about 1/4 full at the accident site. The fuel tanks were not breached and about 1 tablespoon of water was found in both tanks. Both the airplane’s operations manual and markings on the fuel gauges in the cockpit indicated that the pilot should not take off with less than 1/4 tank of fuel. A warning supplement issued by the airplane manufacturer stated that, in certain flight maneuvers, the fuel may move away from the fuel tank supply outlet. If the outlet is uncovered, fuel flow to the engine may be interrupted and a temporary loss of power may result. It is possible that the pilot initially departed with more than 1/4 tank of fuel; however, after the third touch-and-go landing, the fuel level was at or below 1/4 tank. During the initial climb after the touch and go, the fuel moved away from the fuel supply outlet line and starved the engine of fuel, resulting in a total loss of power. The airplane’s position at the time of the loss of engine power did not allow for a suitable off airport landing location. Following the loss of power, it is likely that the pilot attempted to return to the runway and failed to maintain sufficient airspeed during the turn, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and entering an aerodynamic stall.

Probable cause(s): The pilot’s inadequate fuel planning, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation during the initial climb, and his failure to maintain adequate airspeed while turning back to the runway, which resulted in an exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack and an aerodynamic stall.


Flanigan, Nevada/Injuries: 1 Serious

The commercial pilot reported that he took off from a dry lake bed with a second airplane for people on the ground to visually compare the two. After a normal flight, the second airplane landed. The pilot flew past the landing spot, pulled into a nose-high attitude, and made a rapid left turn. He pushed on the left rudder control, and the left wing stalled. The pilot attempted to recover from the stall; however, the airplane was at too low of an altitude to recover, and it impacted the ground in a nose-low attitude. The pilot reported no mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. It is likely that the pilot failed to maintain airspeed during the sharp turn, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.

Probable cause(s): The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed during a sharp turn at low altitude, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.

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