General Aviation Accident Bulletin

Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents


AVweb’sGeneral Aviation Accident Bulletinis taken from the pages of our sister publication,Aviation Safetymagazine, 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 Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more aboutAviation

September 2, 2018, New Washoe City, Nev.

Schempp-Hirth Duo Discus XLT

The motorized glider experienced an in-flight breakup at about 1335 Pacific time while maneuvering. The two private pilots sustained fatal injuries and the glider was destroyed. Visual conditions prevailed.

The glider and its tow plane departed at 1258, and the glider was released at 8000 feet MSL. Both it and several other gliders flying in the vicinity were equipped with “FLARM” traffic awareness and collision avoidance systems, and at least one of them recorded a series of intermittent track positions of the accident glider. According to this data, the accident glider reached about 10,500 feet MSL, then proceeded eastward while performing a series of climbing turns. The last position was recorded at 1333, at about 14,500 feet. Paraglider pilots preparing to launch from a nearby mountain observed the accident glider perform a series of aggressive looping maneuvers. During the final loop, witnesses heard a high-pitched whistling/vibrating sound as the glider’s wings flexed upward such that the tips almost touched each other. One of the wings then broke off, followed by a large “cracking” sound, and the sky was filled with confetti-like pieces of white debris.

September 4, 2018, Palo Alto, Calif.

Mooney M20J 201

At about 1100 Pacific time, the airplane impacted a tidal flat shortly after a balked landing. The private pilot/owner received fatal injuries. One passenger received serious injuries; the other passenger received minor injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. Visual conditions existed for the charity flight in service of Angel Flight West.

Despite having used it before, while approaching the destination, the pilot reported difficulty visually locating the airport. Eventually, the pilot reported he was going around. The controller instructed him to make “left closed traffic,” and asked if he needed assistance. The pilot responded in the negative, stating he “just came in too fast.” On the second attempt, witnesses observed the Mooney touch down and begin to “porpoise”—oscillating in pitch and alternately contacting/bouncing between the main landing gear and the nose landing gear. They observed three to four porpoising cycles before the Mooney lifted off and its landing gear retracted. Shortly, a witness observed the Mooney enter a steep left bank (70 to 80 degrees) as the nose pitched sharply down (approximately 60 degrees). The airplane then descended rapidly to the ground.

The airplane came to rest about 900 feet east of the runway’s departure end. The left fuel tank appeared intact and contained about 17 gallons of fuel. The right tank was found devoid of fuel; its condition was not reported. Observed weather at the airport included winds from 090 degrees at seven knots, visibility of seven miles and scattered clouds at 1300 feet.

September 5, 2018, Port Huron, Mich.

Cessna 340A

The airplane impacted terrain at about 2347 Eastern time during an attempted instrument approach. The solo pilot received fatal injuries and the airplane sustained substantial damage. Night visual conditions prevailed; the flight operated on an IFR flight plan.

At 2342, the pilot was cleared for an approach to the airport. At about 2345, the pilot reported losing his right engine. By 2347, the pilot advised ATC he had tried to turn on the airport’s lights without success and could not see the airport. At about 2349, ATC tried contacting the pilot, but there was no response.

The airplane impacted terrain about 0.67 nm from the departure end of Runway 22 on a 266-degree bearing. The right main and right auxiliary fuel tanks were breached, and a 54-foot-long area of fuel-blighted grass was observed. The right wing-locker fuel tank contained fuel and appeared to be approximately one-third full. Blue fuel streaking was observed on top of the nacelle immediately aft of the right wing-locker fuel cap.

Weather observed at the airport at 2335 included calm winds, 10 or more miles of visibility in moderate rain with scattered clouds at 5000 and 7000 feet, and a broken ceiling above. The next morning, airport staff confirmed the facility’s lighting, including the pilot-controlled lights, was operable.

September 7, 2018, Kennett, Mo.

Cirrus SR22T

At about 1511 Central time, the airplane experienced a complete loss of engine power shortly after take off. Its airframe parachute was activated and it descended to a field. The private pilot and his passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. Visual conditions existed.

During the takeoff roll after a refueling stop, the pilot realized the noise-reduction function on his headset was not operating. The pilot found the control module was wedged between the forward inboard end of his seat and the center console and was inaccessible. When the airplane was about 200 feet AGL and climbing, the pilot engaged the autopilot and bent over to free the control module. Within 5 to 10 seconds, the pilot sensed total loss of engine noise and power. He sat upright and troubleshot the engine power problem, but was unable to discern the cause. He recognized the airplane was below the minimum airframe parachute deployment altitude, but activated the system anyway. The airplane struck the ground on its first tail-first swing just after the parachute opened. It came to rest upright.

This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue ofAviation Safetymagazine.

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