NTSB Identification: CEN13FA438
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 27, 2013 in Lake Michigan, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/24/2014
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28R-200, registration: N1549X
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
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.
The pilot was receiving flight-following services from an approach controller, who gave the pilot vectors to fly east over Lake Michigan and then north to avoid conflicting traffic. On the northerly heading, the accident pilot flew 1.4 miles behind the other airplane. When the accident pilot had the traffic in sight, the approach controller allowed him to pass behind the other airplane and then turn northbound as requested. Shortly thereafter, the approach controller lost radar contact with the pilot. Search and rescue operations were conducted, and the airplane was located in the lake. According to recorded radar data, the accident airplane’s flightpath crossed the other airplane’s flightpath at 1,800 feet mean sea level (msl) about 39 seconds after the other airplane passed the same location at the same altitude. Because the approach controller’s plan explicitly had the accident pilot pass behind the other airplane and the other airplane was descending from above the accident airplane, it is likely that the accident airplane encountered wake turbulence. Primary radar returns detected by airport surveillance radar were consistent with the in-flight breakup of the airplane. The approach controller did not issue a wake turbulence advisory to the pilot. Although wake turbulence is primarily the pilot’s responsibility, the Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Control Handbook does require controllers to provide pilots with a wake turbulence advisory if, in the controller’s opinion, wake turbulence may adversely affect their aircraft. In this case, the approach controller should have been cognizant of the potential hazard and issued a wake turbulence advisory to the pilot.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
An encounter with wake turbulence, which resulted in the pilot’s loss of control of the airplane and its subsequent in-flight breakup. Contributing to the accident was the approach controller’s failure to issue a wake turbulence advisory to the pilot.
HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On July 27, 2013, at 1438 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28R-200 airplane, N1549X, impacted Lake Michigan about 1.2 miles east of Cudahy, Wisconsin. The airline transport pilot and the passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from the John H Batten Airport (KRAC), Racine, Wisconsin, at 1431.
According to a fixed base operator (FBO) employee at KRAC, he saw the pilot in the parking lot before the flight with 4-5 people. Later he heard the pilot's voice on the radio talking to air traffic control (ATC).
The pilot was receiving visual flight rules (VFR) flight following services from Milwaukee approach; the pilot was given vectors to fly east over Lake Michigan and then north. On a northerly heading, the pilot flew 1.4 miles behind the final approach course of an MD-80 airplane inbound to the General Mitchell International Airport (KMKE), Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Shortly afterward, radar contact was lost and the air traffic controller was not able to contact the pilot.
Milwaukee ATC notified the United States Coast Guard and local authorities that the airplane had disappeared from radar. A search and rescue operation was conducted and about 30 minutes later the airplane wreckage was located by a dive team at the bottom of Lake Michigan.
The pilot in the left seat, age 79, held an airline transport pilot certificate for airplane multiengine land and airplane single-engine land. He also held a flight instructor certificate for airplane single and multiengine land, instrument airplane, and advanced ground instructor. He was issued a Class 2 limited medical certificate on January 7, 2013, with the limitations that he must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision. The application for this medical certificate indicated that the pilot had logged 32,920 hours of flight experience; 350 hours of which were logged in the previous six months. This pilot's logbooks were not recovered; therefore, the entire scope of his experience could not be determined.
The pilot in the right seat, age 31, held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land. He was issued a Class 3 medical certificate on September 7, 2011, with no limitations. The application for his medical certificate indicated that he had logged 200 hours of flight experience; 25 hours of which were logged in the previous six months. According to this pilot's logbooks, he had accumulated about 173 total flight hours and his most recent flight review was completed on November 3, 2012.
The airplane was a 4-seat, low wing, single engine Piper PA-28R-200 Arrow, N1549X, s/n: 28R-7535322, manufactured in 1975. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-360-C1C, serial number L-13237-51A, which was driven by a 3-blade metal Hartzell propeller. The most recent annual inspection was completed on July 1, 2013.
At 1452, an automated weather reporting facility at KMKE, located 3 nautical miles west of the accident site, reported wind from 300 degrees at 13 knots, 10 miles visibility, scattered clouds at 3,400 feet, an overcast cloud layer at 4,000 feet, temperature 61 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dewpoint 45 degrees F, and a barometric pressure of 29.91 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The main wreckage was located in Lake Michigan at 42:57.883 N, 087:49.06 W, at a depth of 46 feet. The site was 3.2 miles east of the departure end of runway 25L at KMKE and 1.2 miles from the shoreline of Cudahy, Wisconsin. The airplane was fragmented and pieces were scattered along the bottom of the lake. About 50% of the airplane was recovered during the extraction process. The fuselage was noted to be broken into three sections.
The left wing separated from the fuselage. The outboard section, including the aileron, was not recovered. The right wing inboard section remained attached to the fuselage. The rudder was attached to the vertical stabilizer at its hinge points and was impact damaged. The stabilator was attached to its mounting blocks. The flight control cables were continuous from the cockpit controls to the rudder and stabilator. The flight control cables remained attached at both aileron bell cranks. Both aileron control cables were separated in overload near the wing roots.
The landing gear was in the retracted position. The main landing gear were found in the wheel wells. The nose landing gear separated from the fuselage.
The engine control lever console separated from the instrument panel, the levers were in a forward position, and the friction lock was on. The engine control cables for the throttle, propeller, and mixture controls were attached to their respective levers.
The engine was rotated by turning the propeller; continuity of the crankshaft to the rear gears and to the valve train was confirmed. Compression and suction was observed from all four cylinders. The interiors of the cylinders were examined using a lighted borescope. The only anomalies noted were water and mud in the cylinders.
Both magnetos were operated by hand and neither would produce a spark. They were disassembled and no damage was noted to the internal components other than water contamination. The spark plugs were all intact and observed as light brown, revealed signs of normal operation, and some were covered in mud.
Water residue and a small amount of oil were observed in the engine crankcase. The oil cooler was separated from the engine baffling and was impact damaged.
The propeller blades remained secured in the propeller hub and attached to the engine. All three blades were bent aft about 10 degrees. The blade tips were bent aft about 45 degrees and revealed leading edge damage and scratches.
The right fuel tank was ruptured and portions were not recovered. The left fuel tank was not recovered. The servo fuel inlet screen was clear of debris. The fuel flow divider remained attached to the engine and no damage was noted. The fuel injector nozzles remained free of obstructions. The engine-driven fuel pump remained attached to the engine and when actuated by hand, liquid was expelled from the pump outlet. Liquid with an odor consistent with that of aviation gasoline was observed in the hoses from the electric fuel pump to the engine driven fuel pump and from the engine driven fuel pump to the fuel injector servo. The same liquid was noted in the engine driven fuel pump, the fuel injector servo, and the fuel flow divider.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot on July 29, 2013, by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The cause of death was determined to be multiple blunt force injuries and the manner of death was an accident. The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report. The results were negative for all screened substances.
An autopsy was performed on the second pilot on July 29, 2013, by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The cause of death was determined to be multiple blunt force injuries and the manner of death was an accident. The FAA CAMI prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report. The results were negative for all screened substances.
Air Traffic Control Information
The accident airplane was radar identified at 1431:37, 1 mile north of the Racine airport climbing under VFR to 1,500 feet. At 1435:42, the MKE controller transmitted, "November four nine x-ray if you could turn to the east I do have traffic (inbound) for runway two five left I'll point them out and then you can pass behind them." The pilot responded, "all right." The controller then issued a traffic advisory about N1549X to Delta Airlines flight 931 (DAL931) and transferred the Delta flight to the tower frequency.
At 1436:25, the controller instructed the pilot of N1549X to turn right heading 090 and the pilot acknowledged. The controller continued, "…there is traffic just to you ah twelve o'clock and about two miles descending out of two thousand three hundred, an MD-80." The pilot replied, "all right, I can go down lower if you like" The controller responded, "…negative I need you just to turn out of there then I'll get you northbound as soon as I can." The pilot then stated, "OK, I've got them in sight." The controller replied, "…thank you, just pass behind that traffic and then you can proceed northbound as requested." The pilot responded, "All right."
At 1437:34, the MKE approach controller advised the local controller in the tower that the pilot of N1549X had the Delta flight in sight. At 1438:11, the approach controller attempted to advise the pilot that radar contact was lost, with no response. There was no further contact with the pilot.
According to recorded radar data, the flight path of N1549X crossed the flight path of DAL931at 1437:51 at 1,800 feet, which was 39 seconds after DAL931 passed the same point at the same altitude.
At the time of the accident, N1549X was operating within Milwaukee Class C airspace and was subject to mandatory separation. Separation, traffic advisories, and safety alerts are to be issued between IFR and VFR aircraft. In addition to the standard separation requirements above, controllers are also required to issue wake turbulence advisories when, in their opinion, wake may have an adverse effect on an aircraft. Since wake turbulence is unpredictable, the controller is not responsible for anticipating its existence or effect.
An FAA Advisory Circular states that vortex visualization and avoidance procedures should be exercised by pilots using the same degree of concern as in collision avoidance. Pilots are reminded that in operations conducted behind all aircraft, acceptance of instructions from ATC in the following situations is an acknowledgment that the pilot will ensure safe takeoff and landing intervals, and accepts the responsibility for providing wake turbulence separation: traffic information; instructions to follow an aircraft; the acceptance of a visual approach clearance. Under certain conditions, ATC applies procedures for separating IFR aircraft. If a pilot accepts a clearance to visually follow a preceding aircraft, the pilot accepts responsibility for separation and wake turbulence avoidance. The controllers will also provide to VFR aircraft, with whom they are in communication and which in the tower's opinion may be adversely affected by wake turbulence from a larger aircraft, the position, altitude and direction of flight of larger aircraft followed by the phrase "CAUTION - WAKE TURBULENCE." After issuing the caution for wake turbulence, the controllers generally do not provide additional information to the following aircraft unless they know the following aircraft is overtaking the preceding aircraft. Whether or not a warning or information has been given, however, the pilot is expected to adjust aircraft operations and flight path as necessary to preclude serious wake turbulence encounters.
The radar data used for this investigation was obtained from the ASR-9 airport surveillance radar located at MKE. N1549X was observed from immediately after departure at Racine until the end of the flight southeast of MKE. Just before the accident, the airplane presented a normal transponder return showing 1,500 to 1,600 feet altitude. At 1437:45, the altitude readout dropped to 0, which was likely representing unintelligible/unusable altitude data, and then showed 1,800 feet by 1437:49. The last MKE transponder return occurred at 1437:54, reporting the airplane's altitude as 1,400 feet. Beginning at 1437:54, four primary (non-transponder) radar returns were detected by the radar, originating just before the target where N1549X reported an altitude of 1,800 feet.
NTSB Identification: CEN13FA438
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 27, 2013 in Lake Michigan, WI
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28R-200, registration: N1549X
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.
On July 27, 2013, about 1440 central daylight time, a Piper PA-28R-200 airplane, impacted Lake Michigan about 1.2 miles east of Cudahy, Wisconsin. The airline transport pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from the John H Batten Airport (KRAC) Racine, Wisconsin at an unknown time.
A preliminary review of the air traffic control communications and radar data revealed that the pilot was receiving flight following services from Milwaukee approach; the pilot was given vectors to fly eastbound over Lake Michigan and then northbound. On the northbound heading, the pilot flew about 1 mile behind the final approach course of an airplane inbound to General Mitchell International Airport (KMKE), Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Shortly afterward, radar contact was lost and the air traffic controller was not able to contact the pilot.
The wreckage was recovered for further examination.
Emergency response crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, Milwaukee Fire Department, and Racine Fire Department, return from searching and recovering debris from an apparent plane crash off the shore of Cudahy Saturday.
Batten International Airport official remembers pilot killed in plane crash.
RACINE COUNTY (WITI) — We are learning more about the pilot of a plane that crashed into Lake Michigan on Saturday, July 27th. The pilot, Bill Gensler was one of two men killed in the crash.
Gensler Aviation is one of the tenants at Batten International Airport.
The airport’s General Manager, David Mann has been at the airport for 22 years, and for that entire time, he worked alongside Gensler.
“I’ve received a lot of calls from just about all the members of his family. He has four boys that are scattered all over the country. Only one of them is here so far. He came in from Orlando (Sunday),” Mann said.
Mann spent much of the weekend at the airport.
Gensler took off from Batten around 2:30 Saturday afternoon.
Mann says he came to the airport after getting calls about the plane disappearing from radar.
“About the time I got to work, I got a call from the Coast Guard and I knew at that time we had a problem because they had found the debris field,” Mann said.
Over the next 24 hours, Mann says he’s gone through all the different scenarios, trying to figure out what caused the plane to crash, killing Gensler and his passenger.
“Where it was, the location and it could be something as plain and simple as a goose went through the window. It could be a catastrophic failure of one of the control surfaces,” Mann said.
On Saturday night, search crews still weren’t sure if there are any other people on board.
Mann says he believes only Gensler and his passenger were on board.
“We’re pretty positive about that,” Mann says.
Mann says now, he and many other pilots in Racine County are wondering what caused the crash that took away a familiar face at Batten.
“Good tenant, a good person. I enjoyed my relationship with him and I hope all the best for he and his family and we can get by from this and learn some lessons that will help us all,” Mann said.
Mann said sometime this week, he and other pilots will salute Gensler by grabbing a drink and facing west. They’ll have a toast for a man who, in their words, has flown off into the sunset.
Story, Video, Photo: http://fox6now.com
Two people were killed when a small plane crashed Saturday in Lake Michigan off Cudahy, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The bodies of two middle-age males were pulled from the plane, which was found beneath 42 feet of water, said Erik Leuenberger, search and rescue mission coordinator for Lake Michigan for the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard identified the pilot as William Gensler of Racine. Officials said they were not releasing the name of the second victim, pending notification of relatives.
Rescue crews from the Coast Guard and Milwaukee Fire Department responded to the crash, which was reported about 2:50 p.m. Sixteen divers searched the lake for more than six hours. Two helicopters and seven boats assisted in the search.
Officials said it isn't known whether any others were on the plane and that the search would continue until they confirm that no others were on board.
The plane was a four-seat, single-engine 1975 Piper Cherokee, which was reported down about 1.5 miles east of Cudahy.
The plane is registered and based out of Batten International Airport in Racine, where it took off at about 2:30 pm Saturday, according to airport general manager Dave Mann.
The Coast Guard said the plane apparently was bound for Oshkosh and the EAA AirVenture, which begins Monday.
Story, Photo and Video: http://www.jsonline.com