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.

August 9, 2017, Wellston, Ohio

Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP

At about 1220 Eastern time, the airplane experienced a loss of engine power while maneuvering at low altitude. The pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed for the pipeline observation flight.

When the engine lost power, the pilot initiated a forced landing to an open green space between trees. During the forced landing, the airplane impacted rolling, grass terrain and a barbed wire fence, sustaining substantial damage to the right wing and fuselage. After the engine was decowled, a large hole on the top of the engine crankcase was noted.

August 9, 2017, Tower City, Penn.

Pietenpol Air Camper Experimental

The airplane was substantially damaged following a loss of control during takeoff at 0926 Eastern time. The private pilot was seriously injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to airport surveillance video, the airplane’s nose veered left during the takeoff roll. The takeoff continued, and the airplane pitched up to a steep, nose-high attitude, rolled to the left, then descended to the ground. Impact occurred in a left-wing-low, steep nose-down attitude. Airframe total time was 9.8 hours, i.e., within the Phase I test period.

August 11, 2017, Greenwood, Miss.

Piper PA-31T Cheyenne

At about 1330 Eastern time, the airplane experienced multiple systems anomalies while en route. The private pilot was not injured. The airplane sustained minor damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

While en route, the landing gear warning horn sounded, which the pilot was unable to silence. The pilot elected to return to his departure airport for a precautionary landing, at which time the autopilot engaged. The pilot spent several hours trying to disengage the autopilot including conversations with pilots on the ground and one with Piper Aircraft. Eventually, the pilot was able to land the airplane using variable thrust from the engines.

August 19, 2017, Marietta, Penn.

Smith Aerostar 601P

The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1642 Eastern time, during takeoff. The solo commercial pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

According to the pilot, the airplane swerved to the right during the takeoff roll. The pilot corrected to the left and aborted the takeoff but the airplane departed the left side of the runway and collided with an embankment. According to an aircraft mechanic, the pilot had not previously flown the accident airplane make and model. The mechanic later received a call from the pilot who informed him about the accident and indicated that the airplane “got away from him.”

August 20, 2017, Palm Coast, Fla.

Mooney M20C

At about 2055 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a total loss of engine power after takeoff. The pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

During the takeoff, the pilot noticed that the engine was not producing full power. At about 400 feet agl, the engine lost all power. During the ensuing touchdown on a road, the pilot noticed flames coming into the cockpit around the passenger’s feet. He stopped the airplane and both occupants egressed as quickly as possible. The pilot stated he did not turn off the master switch or boost pump, nor could he get back in the airplane as the flames were too intense. Subsequent examination revealed the cabin section had been consumed by fire. The engine compartment was black from soot but intact. The wings, tail section and landing gear also were intact.

August 22, 2017, Pacific Ocean

Hawker Siddeley Hunter Mk.58

The airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted open ocean at about 1618 Pacific time during an exercise with a U.S. Navy fighter. The airline transport pilot received serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

The U.S. Navy airplane was about 1000 feet abeam the accident airplane’s port side when it suddenly turned right and crossed in front of the accident airplane’s flight path. The pilot of the accident airplane entered a 60-degree right turn and pitched up to follow the military fighter, but the airplane entered a rapid left bank, followed by a nose-low pitch attitude. The accident airplane rolled wings-level and then immediately rolled into another 60-degree right turn, followed by a rapid left bank. The airplane repeated the same sequence at least once more before it entered a 40-degree nose-down attitude and its pilot ejected. The witness reported the accident airplane appeared to depart controlled flight about 15 seconds after the military airplane crossed in front of it.

August 28, 2017, Ellabell, Ga.

Beech A36 Bonanza

At about 0849 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it collided with trees and terrain following a complete loss of engine power. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane sustained damage to all major components during the accident sequence. Visual conditions prevailed; the flight operated on an IFR flight plan.

On-site investigation revealed the forward fuselage was crushed rearward. Both wings exhibited rearward crushing with the right wing crushing being more pronounced than the left. The crush angles indicated a ground impact about 25 degrees from vertical. Examination of the engine revealed a hole in the top right rear of the engine case that was about two inches in diameter. The crankshaft was visible through the hole; there was no connecting rod attached to the rod journal.

August 28, 2017, San Jose, Calif.

Cessna 560XL Citation Excel

The airplane sustained minor damage to its right main landing gear wheel well area during a landing mishap at about 1900 Pacific time. The two airline transport pilots and three passengers were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed. The airplane was operated on an IFR flight plan as a FAR Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight.

During the landing roll, the airplane veered to the right. The flying pilot corrected back to the runway centerline and then exited onto a taxiway before stopping. Examination revealed the aft portion of the right main landing gear’s trunnion pivot pin was not in place. The separated aft portion of the right main gear trunnion protruded through the top of the wing and the landing gear strut and wheel were positioned out and aft in about a 45-degree angle from its original position.

August 29, 2017, Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

Beech M35 Bonanza

At about 0639 Mountain time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing. The solo private pilot/owner received minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane was equipped with six fuel tanks (a main, auxiliary and tip tank in each wing). The pilot conducted the takeoff and climbout, as he always did, on the left main tank. While in cruise, he switched to the auxiliary tanks, and later, to the right main tank. He also turned on the two pumps to transfer fuel out of the tip tanks. Later, when he had the destination airport in sight during a descent, he switched the fuel selector to the left main tank for landing. The engine stopped producing power but continued to windmill. Remedial actions, including switching tanks, did not restore power. The pilot determined he would not make the runway and selected an open desert area as his landing location. The airplane landed hard on the nose landing gear, which collapsed as the airplane slid to a stop. Recovery personnel reported none of the fuel tanks were breached. The airplane had about 43 gallons of fuel on board, all of which was contained in the two main tanks.

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

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