14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 25, 2011 in St. Paul, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/18/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-44-180, registration: N3062H
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Uninjured.
NTSB Identification: WPR12FA020B
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 25, 2011 in St. Paul, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/18/2013
Aircraft: BEECH V35, registration: N5938S
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 2 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
A Beech V35 and Piper PA-44-180 collided in flight in a common practice area for airwork. The flight instructor in the Piper reported that at an altitude of about 7,500 feet mean sea level (msl), he told the pilot receiving instruction to conduct a simulated emergency descent. The instructor stated that the pilot receiving instruction executed the simulated emergency descent and recovered to cruise flight at an altitude of about 4,500 feet msl before they continued toward a local airport. As the flight continued, the instructor observed a single-engine airplane that appeared to be on a converging course, and he transmitted a position report on the intended destination airport's common traffic advisory frequency. The instructor stated that after making a slight heading change and descent, he re-established visual contact with a single-engine airplane, which was then behind and above the Piper’s position. He then scanned the area ahead of the Piper’s position from left to right. The instructor said he then felt a jolt along with a violent shudder in the airplane followed by an uncommanded left roll and yaw. The instructor took control of the airplane and made a forced landing to a nearby open field.
Review of recorded radar data revealed that the Piper was on a northwesterly heading at 7,700 feet msl when it initiated a right descending turn. Meanwhile, the Beech was traveling on a continuous northeasterly heading at an altitude of about 2,400 feet msl. The last recorded radar target for each airplane before the collision showed that the airplanes were on converging paths; the Piper was at 2,800 feet msl on a northeasterly heading and maneuvering west of the Beech, which was at an altitude of about 2,400 feet msl on a north-northeasterly heading. During examination of the recovered wreckage, transfer marks were identified consistent with the radar-derived collision angle. Both airplanes were operating in visual conditions when they collided.
Based on relative positions of the airplanes, and given the other airplane traffic in the area, it seems likely that the single-engine airplane the Piper instructor observed before the collision was not the Beech with which the collision occurred. It could not be determined if either pilot could see the other just before the collision; however, based on the airplanes’ relative positions and flight attitudes, it seems unlikely. The Piper was maneuvering in a left bank at the time and it is likely that the Piper’s wing and engine blocked the Beech from the Piper pilot's field of vision. Additionally, the Beech pilot’s view of the Piper, which was above and to the left of his flight path, would likely have been blocked by the airplane’s door post and cabin roof structure.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot was unable to see the other aircraft to avoid a collision.
HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On October 25, 2011, about 1610 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-44-180, N3062H, registered to and operated by Hillsboro Aviation, Hillsboro, Oregon, as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 instructional flight and a Beech V35, N5938S, registered to and operated by a private individual as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided midair about 5 miles northeast of St. Paul, Oregon. The Beech was destroyed and the Piper was substantially damaged. The airline transport rated pilot in the Beech sustained fatal injuries. The certified flight instructor (CFI) and private pilot receiving instruction in the Piper were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for either flight. The local flight for the Piper originated from the Mc Minnville Municipal Airport (MMV), Mc Minnville, Oregon, about 1536, destined for the Aurora State Airport, Aurora, Oregon. The local flight for the Beech originated from the Stark's Twin Oaks Airport, Hillsboro, Oregon, at 1539.
In a written statement to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge, the CFI onboard the Piper reported that following an uneventful departure from MMV, they climbed to an altitude of about 5,500 feet mean sea level (msl), and conducted a series of maneuvers including slow flight, steep turns, and stalls, prior to climbing to an altitude of about 7,500 feet msl. He then briefed the pilot receiving instruction on the procedures for a simulated emergency descent while conducting various clearing turns and announcing their intentions on the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) for the practice area (122.75 mhz) and UAO (122.7 mHz). The CFI stated that the pilot receiving instruction then executed the simulated emergency descent, and recovered to cruise flight at an altitude of about 4,500 feet msl. The flight then proceeded on a northerly heading towards UAO with the intent of entering the airport traffic pattern. The CFI added that while on a northerly heading, he switched to the UAO CTAF and announced their location, altitude, and intentions.
The CFI further reported that while maintaining an altitude of 4,500 feet msl, he was scanning the area for traffic and observed a single-engine airplane at the 5:30 to 6 o'clock area and above their altitude. The CFI stated that the traffic was on a convergence course towards their location and appeared to be in a slightly steeper than average descent. He instructed the pilot receiving instruction to initiate a left descending turn in an effort to avoid the observed traffic and transmitted a position report on the CTAF for UAO. Following an approximate 10 to 20-degree heading change, the CFI re-established visual contact with the single-engine aircraft that was behind and above his position. The CFI then looked forward and scanned from the 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock position. Subsequently, he felt a jolt along with a violent shudder in the airplane followed by an un-commanded left roll and yaw. The CFI immediately took control of the airplane, and thought they had possibly struck geese. He then initiated an emergency forced landing to a nearby open field.
Witnesses located in various aircraft adjacent to the accident site reported that prior to the collision; they observed the Beech V35 on a northerly course in cruise flight.
Review of recorded radar data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that at 2208:15, the Piper was traveling in a northwesterly heading at 7,700 feet msl until 2308:39, where a descent was observed. The data depicted the Piper continuing a descent and initiating a right descending turn while the Beech was traveling on a northeasterly heading at an altitude of 2,400 feet msl. The last recorded radar target at 2310:03 for each airplane prior to the collision depicted both airplanes on a converging path over the Champoeg State Heritage Area. The Piper was observed at an altitude of 2,800 feet on a northeasterly heading located west of the Beech, which was at an altitude of 2,400 feet msl on a north-northeasterly heading. Further review of the radar data revealed a third airplane located south of both accident airplanes at an altitude of 3,900 feet.
The certified flight instructor of the Piper, age 31, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane ratings. He also possessed a flight instructor certificate with airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane ratings. A first-class airman medical certificate was issued on July 1, 2011, with no limitations. The pilot reported on his most recent medical certificate application that he had accumulated 1,600 total flight hours.
The pilot receiving instruction in the Piper PA-44-180, age 23, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. A first-class airman medical certificate was issued on July 29, 2010, with no limitations. The pilot reported on his most recent medical certificate application that he had accumulated 55 total flight hours.
The pilot of the Beech, age 58, held an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane multiengine land ratings and a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. He also possessed a flight instructor certificate with airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane ratings. A third-class airman medical certificate was issued on March 19, 2011, with the limitation "must have available glasses for near vision." The pilot reported on his most recent medical certificate application that he had accumulated 2,250 total flight hours.
The four-seat, low-wing, retractable-gear, twin-engine airplane, serial number (S/N) 44-7995165, was manufactured in 1978. It was powered by a Lycoming O-360-E1A6D (serial number L-152-77T) and Lycoming LO-360-E1A6D (serial number L-430-72T) engines, rated at 180 horse power. The airplane was also equipped with a Hartzell model HC-C2YR-2CLEUF and HC-C2YR-2CEUF adjustable pitch propellers. The paint theme on the airplane was predominately a maroon red color along the bottom of half of the fuselage and engine nacelles, with white along the upper portion of the fuselage, engine nacelles, and wings.
The four-seat, low-wing, retractable-gear, single-engine airplane, serial number (S/N) D-8145, was manufactured in 1966. It was powered by a Continental Motors IO-520-B (serial number D-8145) and, rated at 285 horse power. The airplane was also equipped with a Hartzell three-bladed adjustable pitch propeller. Review of photographs prior to the accident indicated that the paint theme on the airplane was predominately in white color with blue and green stripes along the fuselage from the nose to the empennage. The leading edge of the wings and bottom portions of the wing tip tanks were blue in color. The ruddervators were white in color, and the elevators and trim tabs were blue in color. Review of FAA records revealed that the V35 was equipped with pulsating high intensity lighting.
A review of recorded data from the Aurora State Airport, Aurora, Oregon, automated weather observation station, located about 5 miles east of the accident site, revealed at 1553, conditions were wind from 360 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear sky, temperature 14 degrees Celsius, dew point 4 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.37 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the accident site revealed that the wreckage of the two airplanes were scattered over an area of about 2 miles. Various debris including the empennage, tail cone, and rear seat, from the Beech and nose cowling from the Piper were located throughout campgrounds A and B within the Champoeg State Heritage Area.
The Beech came to rest upright within a heavily wooded area about 0.3 miles north of the Champoeg State Heritage Area and was mostly consumed by fire. The Piper came to rest upright in an open field about 1.5 miles west of Champoeg State Heritage Area. An approximate 6 foot portion of the roof and fuselage structure of the Beech was located about 120 feet southeast of the main wreckage of the Piper.
Wreckages of both aircraft were recovered to a secure location for further examination.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Oregon State Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on the pilot of the Beech on October 26, 2011. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was “blunt force injuries.”
The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report, volatiles and drugs were tested, and had negative results.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Review of the accident area on both the FAA Visual Flight Rules (VFR) Sectional Chart and FAA Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD) revealed that the accident site was located about 7 miles southeast of an outlined high intensity flight training area, as noted within the AFD. In addition, numerous airports with various CTAF frequencies were located within 15 miles of the accident site.
On October 28, 2011, at the facilities of Garmin AT, Salem, Oregon, the Garmin 430 GPS/Radio unit and Garmin SL30 radio were removed from the Piper. Both units were installed on a test bench with power subsequently applied. The primary active radio frequency observed on the Garmin 430 was 122.700 Mhz. and the secondary non active frequency was 123.000 Mhz. The Global Positioning System (GPS) position captured within the Garmin 430 was N45 15.03', W122 52.64'. The primary active radio frequency on the Garmin SL30 was 135.670 Mhz, and the non-active secondary frequency was 118.520 Mhz. The radios from the Beech were not tested due to the extensive impact and fire damage sustained and an active radio frequency could not be determined.
Examination of the recovered wreckages of both the airplanes was conducted on July 25, 2012, at the facilities of Nu Venture Air Services, Dallas, Oregon.
Examination of the recovered Beech wreckage revealed that the inboard areas of both the left and right wings and forward fuselage structure exhibited thermal and fire damage. The separated approximate 6-foot portion of fuselage structure that was located near the wreckage of the Piper exhibited scratches and maroon paint transfer marks along the upper roof structure and above the upper left and right side window cutouts. The scratches and paint transfer marks were measured at an approximate 59 degree angle from left to right along the centerline of the fuselage.
The right aft side of the fuselage, associated roof structure, which included the area of the registration number, aft and upper areas of the right baggage door frame was separated from the fuselage. The forward upper area of the baggage frame structure exhibited an area of displaced structure in an outward bend (from left to right when looking forward from the tail of the airplane) with a material black in color smeared within the fracture surface. An area of maroon paint transfer, oriented on an approximate 59 degree angle from the airplane centerline (from left to right) was observed on the white upper portion of the separated structure.
Examination of the recovered Piper wreckage revealed blue paint transfer located on the bottom side of the fuselage about 5 inches aft of the aft spar.
The forward portion of the fuselage from the nose cowling bulkhead exhibited inward crushing at an approximate 45 degree angle, which extended about 8 inches inward along the right side of the fuselage, and contained embedded organic debris (dirt and grass). Two antennas on the bottom side of the fuselage (one forward near the nose cowling bulkhead and one aft) were separated from their mounts and not located. An area of white paint transfer was observed on the right side of the fuselage just aft of the nose cowling bulkhead. When looking along the fuselage from forward to aft, the nose structure appeared to be displaced slightly towards the left wing.
The left wing remained intact, and the engine remained secure via its mounts. The flap and aileron remained attached via their respective mounts. The left propeller assembly remained attached to the left engine and left wing. A maroon paint transfer was observed on the left propeller spinner. One blade exhibited a leading edge gouge with some slight blue paint noted about 7 to 10 inches from the root of the blade, and the propeller blade tip was separated. The opposing blade exhibited a leading edge scratch and maroon paint transfer about 16 to 17 inches outboard of the propeller blade root, and the propeller blade tip was separated. Both separated portions of the propeller tips were located within the wreckage of the Beech. The left main landing gear was separated from the strut assembly. The strut assembly and landing gear assembly had organic debris (dirt, grass) embedded within them. The pitot tube located on the outboard portion of the wing was pushed upward into the wing structure.
The right wing remained intact, and the engine remained secure via its mounts. The flap and aileron remained attached via their respective mounts. Upward bending and damage was noted to the right flap and aft portion of the right engine nacelle. A small area of blue paint transfer was observed on the right main landing gear strut.
WILSONVILLE -- The twin-engine Piper flown by a Beaverton flight instructor and a Hillsboro pilot under instruction dived down on the smaller aircraft, smashing it to pieces and sending its pilot crashing to his death, police said Wednesday.
Capt. Ken Summers, Yamhill County Sheriff's Office spokesman, said witnesses to Tuesday's midair collision northwest of Aurora State Airport told investigators that the larger Piper PA-44 Seminole was executing training maneuvers in the area, making a series of rapid ascents and descents shortly after 4 p.m., when it came down upon a Beech Bonanza V35 that had taken off from the Twin Oaks Airpark in Hillsboro.
The Piper's underside then struck the Beech.
"It was literally cut in two," Summers said.
The Beechcraft -- in pieces -- then careened out of control and spiraled into ground. Pilot Stephen L. Watson, 58, of Beaverton, a retired Oregon State Police sergeant, was killed.
The crippled Piper then limped to Champoeg State Heritage area, where it made an emergency landing in an open field just west of the park. The plane, registered to Hillsboro Aviation, appeared to have damaged landing gear.
Flight instructor Travis Thompson, 31, of Beaverton and student Henrik Murer Kalberg, 23, a resident of Holmestrand, Norway, living in Beaverton, walked away uninjured. Social media websites identify Kalberg as a student, runner, tennis player and instrument-rated general aviation pilot.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board interviewed the men Wednesday but declined to disclose what they learned. Thompson did not return a call requesting comment. The Oregonian was unable to reach Kalberg.
On Wednesday, investigators began what could be a yearlong slog -- collecting evidence and testimony, then analyzing the results in hopes of reconstructing the events.
The NTSB, aided by investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration, Oregon State Police and sheriff's deputies from Yamhill and Marion counties concentrated Wednesday on interviewing witnesses to the collision and the crash. Clackamas County deputies submitted reconnaissance video they shot while flying the sheriff's office airplane over the crash site. FAA investigators sorted the radio and radar data from Portland International Airport
Investigators also collected, bagged and documented parts of the Beech Bonanza, turning them over to a company the NTSB contracted to help with crash reconstruction. The wings, engine and cockpit came down near Wilsonville road, just west of Earlwood Road. A tail section was found 40 feet up in a tree.
Joshua Cawthra, who is leading the NTSB investigation, stressed that the area of the collision is not under formal air traffic control, and the pilots were flying by "visual flight rules."
"Part of the role of a pilot is to see and avoid other aircraft," Cawthra said.
Cawthra said initial information indicated that the neither plane suffered from mechanical failure, though a witness, Dan Sullivan of Salem, who was camping at Champoeg park, said he heard the Beech Bonanza sputter and backfire before recovering.