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Volume 25, Number 39b
September 26, 2018
 
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NTSB Finds Lessons In Near-Disaster At SFO
 
Mary Grady
 
 

The NTSB held a probable-cause hearing on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to discuss their findings and issue conclusions and recommendations regarding the close call at San Francisco International Airport in July 2017, when an Air Canada A320 lined up on a crowded taxiway instead of the designated runway. The board found the flight crew misidentified Taxiway Charlie as the landing runway due to “a lack of awareness” that a parallel runway was closed, and also found that information provided to the flight crew by both the FAA and the airline was confusing and ineffective. Crew fatigue was cited as a contributing factor.

The FAA already has changed the operating procedures at SFO to eliminate visual approaches at night when an adjacent parallel runway is closed. “The mistakes identified in this report highlight the need for further review of approach and landing procedures,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “This event could very easily have had a catastrophic outcome. The recommendations issued as a result of this investigation, if implemented, will help prevent the possibility of a similar incident from occurring in the future.”

The board recommended that the FAA should do a better job of communicating Notam information to flight crews and should find more effective ways to mark closed runways. Also, the FAA as well as aircraft and avionics manufacturers should develop systems both on the airport and in the cockpit to alert flight crews and controllers if an aircraft lines up on the wrong runway. The board also said Transport Canada should revise its current regulations to address the potential for fatigue when pilots are called from reserve duty to operate evening flights “that would extend into the pilot’s window of circadian low.”

The board’s investigation was the first time the NTSB has reported on an event in which there were no injuries and no aircraft damage, according to John DeLisi, head of the NTSB’s Office of Aviation Safety. With four airliners on the taxiway and one in the air, about 1,100 lives were potentially at risk. An abstract of the report is posted online (PDF); the full and final report will be posted on the NTSB website in several weeks.

I Flew The Cornfield Bomber
 
James Van Laak
 

A recent video about the famed Cornfield Bomber brought back some fond memories of that airplane for me.  As a freshly minted Air Force pilot, I was lucky enough to get assigned to the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York, then its home.

Tail number 58-0787 is sometimes called the Cornfield Bomber, but to us it was the Gray Ghost. Both nicknames came because in 1970, its pilot had ejected near Great Falls, Montana, after entering a spin.  It was a story we heard often since our squadron commander at the time, Jim Lowe, had been an instructor on the flight and had coached its pilot through the emergency procedures. 

As the plane fell through 15,000 feet with no sign of recovery, Lowe told him to eject. Curiously, after the ejection the plane recovered, and since one of the steps in the spin recovery was to set takeoff trim, the plane settled into a glide at about 200 knots before touching down in a snow-covered field. After being recovered, it was shipped to the depot in Sacramento for repairs and return to service, eventually coming to the 49th.

Everyone loved the story, and I set my sights on getting my name on its side. After all, what could be better than an airplane with survival instincts? Although I was scheduled to get a different airplane, I was able to trade for my lucky jet. I was thrilled.

I was even more thrilled to find out that the repairs were done perfectly; 787 was a very sweet flying machine. It handled beautifully and easily met factory specs on performance. As head of Quality Assurance, I flew hundreds of maintenance test flights in all of our airplanes and learned all of their individual quirks. I was delighted to see that 787 was a good, straight, flying machine; I was proud to have my name on it.

It was always fun to fly “my” jet, and once, just for fun, I decided to see how high it would go. We got to 68,000 feet before I decided that was high enough without a pressure suit. But I noted that I was the one to give up; the airplane was still climbing over 500 feet per minute at 200 knots indicated, which at that altitude was Mach 1.3.

But whenever 787 had an odd squawk, some were quick to blame its boondocking past. At one point, it developed a serious problem; when a pilot would begin to rotate, the stick would hang up. It happened at a very critical time, doing 150 knots on the ground, and it needed to be fixed. After hundreds of hours of troubleshooting and three high-speed aborts, we finally found a hydraulic cap lodged in the control linkage. Although this had nothing to do with its off-field landing, it added to 787’s mystique.

The Grey Ghost was a genuine celebrity, too. The local paper had a big article on its history, and it was often the star of squadron tours. 

In the late 1980s, the 106s were retired and turned into drones. I was saddened to think that my old friend was destined to be shot down, but to my great delight, it was moved to the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base wearing the colors of the 49th, where it remains today. It is great fun to know I can visit it any time I want, either in person or through the magnificent website for the Museum of the Air Force.

James Van Laak is a former Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the FAA. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a F-106 and A-10 pilot and worked at DARPA and at NASA as a manager on the International Space Station.

First LSA Balloon In The Works
 
Mary Grady
 
 

A small company based in France has created a two-place hot-air balloon designed to be certified under U.S. S-LSA regulations, with production expected to begin early next year. “The system is available for sale as an experimental already,” designer and CEO Leandro Corradini told AVweb in an email. “I applied the ASTM standard since the birth of the project, so, the certification should run smooth.” Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, confirmed to AVweb this week that Corradini would be the first to offer a lighter-than-air system as an S-LSA, “assuming he passes the FAA audit.” The FlyDoo system is designed to be lightweight and easy to store—it can be quickly broken down and transported in a bike trailer—and is expected to sell for about $21,000, Corradini said. It will debut in the U.S. next month at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, in New Mexico, Oct. 6 to 14.

The system also includes an optional “vectored thrust unit,” or VTU, designed by Corradini, that can be attached to the basket and provide some thrust and directional control. It’s essentially a small prop, powered by an electric battery pack, that can be attached to the gondola rail. Current LSA regulations do not allow the electric powerplant, but Corradini said he will try to get an exemption. Owners who want to use the electric motor also can opt to fly the system as an E-LSA. The VTU, with batteries and chargers, will cost an additional $14,000. More details about the system can be found at the company’s website.

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Workhorse Seeks Buyer For SureFly
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Workhorse Group has announced that it has started the formal process to sell its SureFly hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) multi-copter. SureFly is the first manned aircraft developed by the company, which designs and builds electric and hybrid vehicles. The aircraft completed its first untethered test flight last April and the FAA accepted Workhorse’s application for type certification in June 2018.

"Now that SureFly is doing hover test flights and has entered into the type certification process with the FAA, we believe it is the ideal time to find a suitable partner or buyer that wishes to lead the eVTOL race," said Workhorse CEO Stephen Burns. "Finding a suitable partner for SureFly will enable Workhorse to continue focusing on its N-GEN electric delivery truck platform as well as our W-15 Electric Pickup Truck."

The company previously stated that it was hoping to have the aircraft certificated by the end of 2020 with a target price of under $200,000. The piston version of the eight-motor SureFly seats two and has a maximum speed of 70 MPH, 70-mile range and 400-pound useful load. Its gas generator is paired with two lithium battery packs, which provide five minutes of backup power. A turbine version of the aircraft is also in development.

Read Radar And Satellite Images
 
Rose Marie Kern
 
 

On my way home from Oshkosh Air Venture last August, I observed the billowing anvils of thunderstorms south of my flight path. Both the radar and satellite pictures showed buildups advancing northward, which would cut directly through my route. So, I took the safe option and landed at Dalhart, Texas for the night. The ability to read effectively these images is critical to flying IFR—especially in today’s high-tech world of in-flight weather.

There is a difference between summer and winter in the ability to read and interpret radar and satellite imagery— the latter are not as easy to decipher. All the images shown with this article were captured at the same time. Viewing all these perspectives gives a broader understanding of what we could be facing. Let’s see what they say about a planned IFR flight from Salt Lake City to Minneapolis on January 10th. Assume the performance ceiling of your aircraft is 13,500 feet MSL maximum, and you are estimating seven hours of flight time.

An AIRMET exists over the central half of the flight for Icing from the freezing level (near the surface) to 11,000 feet. When you get briefings from Flight Service they are required by the National Weather Service to inform you of any AIRMETs within 3,000 feet altitude of your flight level, because their estimates are just that— estimates.

Winter Radar Returns

During winter, the biggest problem with individual radar sites, like the one shown based at Cheyenne Wyoming, is that levels of precipitation are deceptive in two ways. This picture (right) shows a large area of green with a small spot of yellow— that in the summer months is associated with light to moderate lower level precipitation, something most IFR pilots find easy to fly through. The problem with individual sites is that returns diminish with distance and mask the extent of the activity. In this picture it looks as though you could potentially circumnavigate to the north.

The Mosaic Summer radar picture combines all the data from various sites—giving you a greater understanding of the true coverage of weather systems. It is important to know where the holes in coverage are, because the individual sites are far enough apart that anything low-level can hide behind higher returns. One of these holes exists northeast of Cheyenne, so it looks like there could be an opening in far Northwestern Nebraska, which an aircraft might slip through.

Snow And Ice

Radar has a more difficult time picking up snow and ice than it does rain. During the winter time the thin pale blues and greys present a subtly sinister reading. Even a pale area of grey could mean there is light precipitation in the area—and flying through it could cause ice accumulation. A smudge of light to deep blue can mean more significant icing is possible or that a small intense snowstorm is blowing through an area. Just because it is small doesn’t mean it’s harmless.

If you are using WSI or other private vendor radar products, the colors may be altered by their computers—in most cases they will show winter radars that have green for rain, pink for a rain/ice mix, and blue for snow. The worst flight condition is a rain/ice mix—that’s where you can accumulate the heaviest icing on an aircraft. Become familiar with the variations of each vendor’s radar interpretations.

The Winter radar mosaic above shows the areas of precipitation as being more widespread than the summer weather radar mode, but they both indicate there may be a passage between the systems. The colors of the NWS winter radar give indications of cloud temperatures. Let’s go to the satellites and see if they can broaden our understanding.

Satellite Images

Remember, radar gives you a picture of the sky from the ground upwards on a slant angle, while satellites look down from above. If there are layers between what is seen on the top and bottom, they could be hidden from view.

The visible satellite picture in winter lacks the brilliant white bubble tops of summer cumuliform clouds or the smooth thick creamy swaths of early morning fog banks with sharply defined edges. The challenge lies in determining whether the shadowy shades of gray are streaming at high or low levels and whether they hold moisture warm enough to constitute a problem for your aircraft.

If they are cold enough, the tiny ice crystals will bounce off the aircraft rather than adhering. The Visible Satellite shows the cloud activity is widespread and dense in the northern plains—including the area we were hoping to see a passage through. However, we get no sense of cloud heights or whether they contain dangerous icing.

The infrared picture on the right presents more dramatic tonal contrasts. The temperature grid across the top tells you how cold the clouds are based on their shade of white or gray. Now we can at least see lower layers in California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, but the higher, colder clouds are obscuring what is going on in Colorado, Wyoming and the northern plains states.

Looping both these images showed the mass of clouds at upper levels generally stretching northwards while the entire area swiftly tracks from west to east with a slight counterclockwise rotation in the northern Texas panhandle.

Looping also gives a glimpse below the highest layer of clouds, which in this case shows a grey lower layer— the one you are really concerned with. It appears to be consistently the same shade of grey indicating one lower level below the more visible upper layer. Between these two layers could be altitudes free of cloud activity. Zoom in as close as possible to see if there are shades of gray distinctly different from the lowest and highest cloud shelves.

The Satellite picture contradicts the idea of a hole along the line of precipitation as it shows the clouds stretching in an unbroken line. You see no holes through the widespread cloud activity at the lower levels. METARs also indicate marginal VFR to IFR conditions at the surface.

Looping the images is integral for determining whether to go direct, take a routing to the south, or spend the night and go in the morning. In this case the sequence shows the system to be rapidly moving east. The next morning showed the area of freezing temperatures and precipitation had moved well into Minnesota.

By leaving Salt Lake City in the late morning and assuming a six-hour flight, the arrival at Minneapolis in the early evening was free of icing as we snuck in behind the frontal activity. Getting used to the seasonal differences in radar and satellite imagery takes a bit of practice.

Keep in mind that where summer images are stark and dramatically colored, winter’s colors are more subtle, but essential to safely planning long distance flights.


Rose Marie Kern was a certified aviation weather forecaster when she worked as a Flight Watch specialist. Her book, Air to Ground, gives pilots a good overview of aviation weather products as well as information about Air Traffic Control. www. rosemariekern.com.


This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of IFR Refresher magazine.

For more great content like this, subscribe to IFR Refresher!

 

Hollywood Revisits Apollo 11
 
Mary Grady
 
 

Universal Pictures’ new film about the Apollo 11 mission, “First Man,” is due in theaters Oct. 12, and early reviews so far have been mainly positive. According to Variety, director Damien Chazelle knows the story has been told before, “so his audacious strategy is to make a movie so revelatory in its realism, so gritty in its physicality, that it becomes a drama of thrillingly hellbent danger and obsession.” The $70 million film, starring Ryan Gosling, is based on the book “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong,” by James R. Hansen.

Armstrong was joined on the first Moon landing by astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Over the next few years, 10 astronauts followed, with Gene Cernan the last to leave his footprints on the Moon, in 1972. The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, which took place July 20, 1969, is coming up next year. AVweb’s Paul Bertorelli remembers that day, and plans to review “First Man” for our readers next month.

Boeing, NSF Partner For Aviation Education
 
Mary Grady
 
 

Pilot, mechanic and air traffic controller may be the most high-profile jobs in aviation, but career tracks in engineering and management are also crucial to aviation’s future. This week, Boeing and the National Science Foundation announced a $21 million investment to accelerate training and diversity in those critical areas. "The initiatives will help develop more technical workers and provide research opportunities for women and veterans seeking to join or return to the STEM workforce,” said Heidi Capozzi, a Boeing executive in human resources.

NSF will partner with educational institutions to develop online training in critical skill areas for students and Boeing employees, covering topics such as model-based engineering, systems engineering, mechatronics, robotics, data science and sensor analytics, program management and artificial intelligence. The first project is expected to launch next year. Boeing is donating $10 million to the NSF to develop the programs, and the NSF will donate $10 million in scholarship funding. Boeing also will give $1 million to an NSF initiative to increase the number of women and veterans in STEM fields.

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The 411 On 406s
 
Myron Nelson
 
 

Most aircraft owners and operators are keenly aware of the rapidly approaching deadline to comply with the federal mandate on ADS-B installations. However, there is an additional aircraft technology wave upon us that also offers potentially significant advancements in aviation safety. This involves new digital 406 MHz emergency locator transmitters and since this new technology could also become a federal mandate (in additional to saving your life), it is important to understand the technology, its advantages and its costs.

In the early 70s, particularly in Alaska, there were a series of unfortunate accidents and other events where downed aircraft turned out to be difficult or impossible to find. That prompted the U.S. federal government to mandate that all aircraft operating in the country (with some published exceptions) must be equipped with an emergency locator transmitter (ELT), to assist in search and rescue efforts. Most other countries followed suit if they didn’t have such a mandate already. The standards were pretty simple. The ELT device needed to be relatively durable in order to survive a high-G impact and to have a self-activating shock triggering mechanism, its own antenna and an internal power supply sufficient for an extended broadcast period.

Those early designs had severe faults and limitations. Most of their battery packs were highly specialized and expensive with limited shelf lives. The units themselves were notorious for going off when they weren’t supposed to and not triggering when they were actually needed. Their pulsating analog homing signal was little more than dumb noise with no supplemental information. False alarms were difficult to screen out, and rather large search areas were calculated when signals were detected. Stricken aircraft usually took several hours to locate at best.

In spite of their severe limitations, there can be no doubt that there are many pilots and passengers who are alive today because of their ELTs. Lamentably, there are also documented cases of search and rescue personnel who have been tragically lost while valiantly responding to alert missions, often in the same poor flying conditions around weather and/or terrain that caused the alerted event in the first place.

ELTs broadcasting on the traditional 121.5 MHz VHF frequency have been monitored in the past by other aircraft, ground stations and even satellites. However, in 2009 the SARSAT monitoring of the 121.5 analog signals was quietly terminated, something that a lot of operators even today may not realize. Certain ground stations and specialized search and rescue aircraft usually have the equipment available to “direction find” (DF) the signal to home in on it. Monitoring aircraft without such equipment can only detect a signal’s presence and judge whether the intensity of the signal is increasing or decreasing with no idea of the signal’s actual position or azimuth. Airliners are “requested” to monitor 121.5 on backup radios when they aren’t in use, but common airline routes don’t cover all areas where signals could originate, especially in off-peak hours. Sometimes ATC will request a certain aircraft to listen and report in an effort to track down a suspected signal or radar disappearance, but that process is akin to playing Battleship over a massive area and is woefully inefficient and time consuming.

A Digital World

Around the turn of the century, the digital advancement in radio technology brought a new, much improved product into the marketplace in the form of 406 MHz ELT units. One huge advantage of a digital signal is that in addition to a homing signal, it can send digital data that can be vital in determining the legitimacy of the alert and actual location of the transmission, be it a harmless false alarm on an airport ramp or a dire life-or-death emergency in a remote location. Each device is preregistered with the operator’s contact information and assigned a unique digital hex code, which is extremely beneficial to weeding out false alarms prior to sending out expensive search and rescue crews on a potential folly. The old 121.5 units could only be located to within a 12- to 25-mile range. That might look tiny on a map but it is huge on snowshoes.

The new 406 units refine the area down to 2 to 3 miles by signal alone; however, most units also digitally broadcast precise lat/long GPS data that pinpoints the target to mere yards/meters, effectively taking the “search” out of search and rescue. Unlike the 121.5 units whose satellite monitoring was terminated, the 406 units continue to be monitored by GEOSAR satellites 24/7 over most of the world. Additional 406 design upgrades include better shock, fire and water-resistance standards. Also, since the digital signal can be pulsed a few seconds every minute rather than continuously broadcast like the analog units, the internal batteries, usually modern li-ion, can sustain the alert broadcast for a much longer period of time. The “transmission power” of new 406 units is advertised by one vendor as 50 times greater than previous units.

Most aviation advocacy groups have lobbied the U.S. government to not mandate a transition to the 406 units, at least for a while, so that those who want to continue the use of their previous generation 121.5 units can continue to do so and so far, the United States hasn’t made their use mandatory. Other countries have mandated the changeover, most notably for U.S. pilots is our neighbor to the south, Mexico, which after several extensions went with a hard mandate this past July that non-exempt aircraft operating in their airspace must be equipped with a 406 MHz unit. Canada and some Caribbean countries could be following Mexico’s example shortly. At some point the U.S. likely will as well.

Like all bleeding-edge technological advances, the initial units to hit the market were much more expensive than their predecessors, especially for those who don’t have the capability to install the units themselves, as they require an instrument panel control head and associated cabling installed that most older generation units did not. Unless the unit has an internal GPS as some do, they also require a GPS signal feed from onboard avionics. Those wiring issues can get complicated and expensive in certain applications, especially for certified aircraft owners. The GPS signal isn’t required for FAR compliance, but its absence negates arguably the largest safety advantage of the technology upgrade.

As is often the case with new technology, the passage of time and market presence has dramatically reduced the purchase price of the new units to about the same level that their predecessors were back in the day. Some manufacturers build new units that are plug and play replacements of their old designs using the same mounts, control heads and antennae. A quick perusal of aviation online sites shows complete 406 ELT packages available at less than $500 USD. Since appointment availability at avionics shops is already tight with the ADS-B mandate, it may make sense for some to bite the bullet and have both projects accomplished during the same visit.

While the advantages of the new digital units are head and shoulders above the old technology and will literally save lives, obviously there are those whose flying activities simply don’t justify the investment to change, especially with the already mandated deadline of ADS-B compliance which in its own right has search and rescue advantages imbedded within. The risk envelopes of an all-weather country crosser are different than a fair-weather burger runner who usually short hops around with several others from the air park. Enough is enough some will say, and that is certainly a justifiable position. Choice is good.

Obviously, for someone building an experimental aircraft, now or in the future, installing a 406 unit is an absolute no brainer. For those experimental or certified who will need to convert over, a serious assessment of the value of getting found quicker (or at all) when the landings column no longer equals the takeoffs column will need to be made. Sometimes federal employees can actually come up with worthwhile ideas (cue laugh track).

Since the advent of seat belt and shoulder harnesses, rarely in our industry has such a relatively minor investment offered so many potentially lifesaving capabilities as a new digital 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter.


Myron Nelson has flown professionally for over 30 years. He and his son both fly for Southwest Airlines. Myron built and flies an award winning RV-10 based in Arizona.

Flying The Mooney Acclaim: The Fastest Piston Single
 
Paul Bertorelli
 
 

Mooney has re-tooled the Acclaim in the Acclaim Ultra, making it the fastest certified piston single in the world. In this video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli took the airplane for a test flight with Mooney's Lee Drumheller. And yes, it goes as fast as the book claims it does.

 

General Aviation Accident Bulletin
 
 

AVweb’s General Aviation Accident Bulletin is taken from the pages of our sister publication, Aviation Safety magazine, and is published twice a month. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause in the NTSB’s website at www.ntsb.gov. Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at www.aviationsafetymagazine.com.


December 9, 2017, San Diego, Calif.

Beech A36 Bonanza

At about 1633 Pacific time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted a residence during an emergency landing after engine failure. The pilot and one passenger sustained serious injuries. Two other passengers were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed. The pilot later reported that, at about 1.5 miles west of the airport and 700 feet AGL, the engine experienced a complete loss of power. He executed a steep 180-degree turn to the right and performed the emergency procedure for loss of engine power. Engine power was not regained and he executed a forced landing to a nearby field. During landing, the pilot applied brakes, but due to an insufficient stopping distance, the airplane impacted and traveled through a fence before colliding with the residence. A postcrash fire ensued.

December 10, 2017, Mauna Loa, Hawaii

Cessna U206G Stationair

At about 1105 Hawaiian time, the airplane impacted remote, hilly terrain while performing an instrument approach. The private pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed. Instrument conditions were reported at the destination airport. While the airplane was conducting the VOR-A circling instrument approach to Runway 5, ATC observed the airplane south of course on a six-mile final and advised the pilot. The pilot responded that he was correcting, but was maneuvering to remain clear of clouds. The airplane then disappeared from the radar display system and the air traffic controller transmitted to the pilot with no response. The airplane’s wreckage was found on the western side of a hill that crested about 100 feet, with about a 50-degree incline, and was populated with low-growth vegetation. The wreckage was subsequently destroyed in a postimpact fire. Weather observed at the destination airport included wind from 030 degrees at eight knots, six statute miles of visibility, scattered clouds at 1,200 feet AGL and broken clouds at 1,700 feet.

December 10, 2017, Miami, Fla.

Smith Aerostar 601

The airplane collided with terrain at 1450 Eastern time, shortly after takeoff. The pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces. Visual conditions prevailed. Earlier, after adding 105.2 gallons of 100LL, the pilot parked theairplane in front of a flight school hangar where he kept a tool box. Two witnesses observed fuel leaking from the airplane’s aft fuselage and stated the pilot had several five-gallon orange buckets under the airplane to catch the fuel. The pilot initiated a takeoff on Runway 31 at 1428. The airplane became airborne and, for unknown reasons, the pilot aborted the takeoff, landing back on the runway. The airplane was taxied back to Runway 31 and a second takeoff was made. Witnesses did not notice anything unusual until they heard the pilot declare an emergency. They reported the airplane was between 400 feet and 800 feet AGL in a left bank and appeared to be turning toward Runway 9R. The witnesses thought the pilot was going to make it back to the runway, but the left bank kept increasing past 90 degrees and the nose suddenly dropped. The airplane impacted a cornfield about 0.9 miles east of the approach end of Runway 9R.

December 20, 2017, Cross City, Fla.

Beech G35 Bonanza

The airplane was destroyed when it impacted wooded terrain at about 1900 Eastern time while maneuvering. The solo instrument-rated commercial pilot was fatally injured. Night instrument conditions prevailed; no flight plan had been filed. Review of radar data revealed a target with a 1200 transponder code consistent with the accident airplane. As the target proceeded from Alabama over Florida, it climbed from 3,400 feet MSL to 7,100 feet, then made two left 360-degree turns, followed by a rapid descent to 1,400 feet. The target flew east at altitudes below 2,500 feet MSL, then turned south, flying s-turns and descending to 1,400 ft. At 1849, it flew near a cold front boundary. The target completed numerous course deviations, including three complete left circuits and two right circuits, before disappearing from radar coverage about 0.4 nm east of the accident site. Examination revealed both propeller blades exhibited s-bending. When the vacuum pump was rotated by hand, intake air and exhaust air were confirmed to their respective ports. Weather recorded about 11 miles southeast of the accident site at 1855 included an overcast ceiling at 600 feet.

December 24, 2017, Bartow, Fla.

Cessna 340

At 0717 Eastern time, the airplane impacted terrain shortly after takeoff. The private pilot and four passengers were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed. The five occupants boarded the plane inside a hangar and remained there while the airplane was towed to the ramp. The pilot then very slowly taxied the airplane from the ramp to Runway 9L where the engine run-up was completed. Witnesses then heard the airplane take off and proceed east. They could not see the airplane because of dense fog and low visibility, but they heard an explosion on the east side of the airport. They drove to the explosion and found the main wreckage on fire. Another witness observed the airplane taxiing to the runway and, about 12 minutes later. heard the airplane take off. During the takeoff, he heard a “pop” and the explosion near the end of Runway 9L. He estimated the runway visual range was 600 to 800 feet due to the fog. At 0715, the automated weather observation included calm wind, visibility less than ¼ sm in fog and overcast clouds at 300 feet. The pilot did not request a weather briefing from Flight Service.


This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

For more great content like this, subscribe to Aviation Safety!

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Picture of the Week, September 20, 2018
 
 
Taken at Lake Hood seaplane base in Anchorage, Alaska, with a Canon 5D Mark II. Photo by Robbie Culver.

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