General Aviation Accident Bulletin

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Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents.

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 web site 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.

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.

This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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