Friday, January 9, 2015

Lancair 320, N7ZL: Fatal accident occurred January 09, 2015 near Van Nuys Airport (KVNY), California

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Accident Data Summary  -   National Transportation Safety Board:   https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys, California 

Lycoming Engines; Agoura Hills, California 

http://registry.faa.gov/N7ZL

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA081
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 09, 2015 in Van Nuys, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/04/2017
Aircraft: GIBBS LANCAIR 320, registration: N7ZL
Injuries: 1 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 commercial pilot was taking off for a personal, cross-country flight. Several witnesses reported that, shortly after takeoff, when the airplane was about 400 ft above the ground, they heard the engine "pop" at least twice, sputter, and then go silent, consistent with a loss of engine power. About this time, the pilot reported to the tower controller very quickly but not very clearly that "I have an engine failure I think." The tower controller subsequently issued the pilot the current altimeter setting and attempted to contact the pilot but did not receive any further radio transmissions. The airplane continued straight, turned right, and then spun to the ground. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The airplane was last refueled before its previous flight in Flagstaff, Arizona, 4 days before the accident; the airplane was then flown from Flagstaff to the Van Nuys Airport, Van Nuys, California. Although a narrow stream of what smelled like gasoline and engine oil was found near the wreckage, there was no fuel remaining in the fuel tanks.

The airplane was equipped with an electronic flight instrument system (EFIS), which has a low fuel alert that is set by the pilot or a mechanic. When fuel decreases to the specified amount, an alert pops up front and center on the EFIS, and it will not disappear until the pilot acknowledges it. Given that the pilot mostly conducted his own maintenance, it is highly likely he was familiar with the EFIS and knew that the airplane was low on fuel and how much fuel remained but decided to take off anyway. As a result of his decision, the engine lost engine power shortly after takeoff due to fuel exhaustion at too low of an altitude for the pilot to recover from the stall and subsequent spin.

A friend of the pilot reported that the pilot texted him about 1249 when he arrived at the airport. He said that the pilot normally arrived about 1230. The pilot seemed to be in a rush that day because he was supposed to fly home the day before, and apparently he and his wife had argued about the issue. In addition, the pilot's friend noted that the pilot had recently become more conscious about where he bought fuel. Based on the directions the pilot received from the air traffic controller to stay below 2,000 ft if flying to Burbank, the friend believes it is likely the pilot was attempting to fly to Whiteman Airport about 5 nautical miles away that had cheaper fuel before continuing to his destination. 

According to the air traffic control recordings, the pilot first contacted the ground and tower controllers about 1308, and he was cleared for takeoff at 1311. Just before takeoff, the pilot's work e-mail documented nine messages, three of which were sent by the pilot, the last of which was sent at 1311. In the emails, the pilot indicated confusion about an issue, which may have been a further distraction to him. The evidence indicates that the pilot was rushed and sending e-mails, which likely distracted him during the taxi and takeoff and decreased his vigilance about the airplane's fuel status.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's improper decision to take off despite low fuel alerts, which resulted in a total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion, his subsequent failure to maintain adequate airspeed and his exceedance of the airplane's critical angle of attack, which led to an aerodynamic stall and loss of control at too low of an altitude to recover. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's distraction due to his sending e-mails and being rushed during taxi and takeoff, which resulted in reduced vigilance about the airplane's fuel status.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On January 9, 2015, about 1313 Pacific standard time, a Lancair 320, N7ZL, impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from Van Nuys Airport (VNY), Van Nuys, California. The commercial pilot (sole occupant) sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and was being operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan was filed. The flight was destined for Scottsdale Airport (SDL), Scottsdale, Arizona. 

The pilot contacted VNY ground control about 1308 and requested to taxi from the northwest side of the airport to runway 16R. Ground control cleared him to taxi to runway 16R via taxiways A and C. The pilot then contacted the control tower and requested to take off from runway 16R. The tower controller informed him to stand by for traffic. About 1311, the tower controller informed the pilot of traffic in the area and directed him to fly straight ahead to highway 101 and to stay below 2,000 ft if flying to Burbank; he then cleared the flight for takeoff. 

About 1313, the pilot reported very quickly but not very clearly that "I have an engine failure I think, N7ZL." The tower controller issued the pilot the current altimeter setting and attempted to contact the pilot but did not receive any further radio transmissions. The airport's crash response team was immediately alerted. 

Several witnesses reported that, shortly after takeoff, when the airplane was about 400 ft above the ground, they heard the engine "pop" at least twice, sputter, and then go silent. The airplane continued straight then turned right. Some witnesses mentioned that the airplane appeared to be very slow when the right wing and nose dropped. The airplane started to spin and impacted a nearby street in a nose-low attitude. 

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 47, held an air transport pilot certificate for airplane multiengine land and helicopters issued on November 18, 2011, and a commercial pilot certificate for single-engine land. The pilot also held an instrument rating and a flight instructor certificate for airplane single- and multi-engine land, helicopter, and instrument. In addition, the pilot held an airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate issued on February 1, 2012. The pilot's first-class medical certificate was issued on December 4, 2014, with the limitation that he must have available glasses for near vision. During his most recent medical examination, the pilot reported 2,349 total flight hours, 150 hours of which were in the previous 6 months. 

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The four-seat, low-wing, tricycle-gear airplane, serial number 137, was manufactured in October 1996. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-0320 BIA 160-horsepower engine and equipped with a Hartzell Propeller Inc., model AC-F24L-1BF controllable-pitch propeller. The maintenance logbooks were not located for examination. The tachometer and the Hobbs meter were electronic, and damage precluded determining the current readings. 

The airplane's last known refueling occurred on January 5, 2015, at the Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) Flagstaff, Arizona, when 28.2 gallons of fuel was added. The airplane was fueled during the airplane's last known flight before the accident flight, during which the pilot took off from SDL and stopped at FLG for fuel before finishing the flight at VNY. The total amount of fuel on board the airplane at the time of the accident was not determined.

Electronic Flight Instrumentation System

The airplane was equipped with a GRT Avionics Horizon HX electronic flight instrument system (EFIS), which is a panel-mounted display that consolidates multiple instruments into a compact view to aid in pilot situational awareness. The Horizon HX EFIS has a flight data recording function that needs to be enabled, and a USB drive must be inserted into the EFIS for the data to record. The multifunctional display was shipped to the National Transportation Safety Board recorders laboratory for examination. The device powered on normally, and the data recording feature setting was determined to be inactive. Therefore, the device contained no pertinent information related to the accident.The Horizon HX EFIS has a low fuel alert, which is programmed by the pilot and/or mechanic to notify the pilot when the fuel reaches a specified level. This notification pops up front and center on any screen, and it does not leave the screen until the pilot acknowledges it. 

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1251, the VNY weather reporting station reported wind from 090 at 5 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 21° C, dew point 04° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.97.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

VNY is located 3 miles northwest of Van Nuys, California, at an elevation of 802 ft. The airport has two hard-surfaced runways, 16R and 34L magnetic, and 16L and 34R magnetic. Runway 16R/34L is 8,001 ft long and 150 ft wide.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane came to rest at one corner of two intersecting streets. Telephone and power lines crossed all four corners of the intersection, and diagonally crossed two corners of the intersection. None of the wires appeared to be damaged, and no striations were observed on the airplane. The airplane was oriented to the southeast. The first identified point of contact was an impact crater in the street asphalt. The engine cowling and white paint transfer marks, which were almost parallel to the final orientation of the wings and were the approximate length of the wings, were found adjacent to the impact crater. The main wreckage was about 34 ft east of the impact crater; the area between the impact crater and main wreckage was covered with a sticky, dark-colored fluid. The cockpit area was destroyed, and the seats were fully exposed; the seats belts were not latched. The throttle and mixture controls were full in. 

Both wings remained attached to the fuselage; the right wing leading edge was split open the entire length, and the inboard two-thirds of the left-wing was split. The paint on both leading edges was chipped. The fuel caps for both wings and the header tank were in position and secure. Both wing tanks and the header tank on the fuselage had been breached; there was no fuel remaining in the fuel tanks, however, there was a narrow stream of what smelled like gasoline and engine oil in the gutter. 

The tail section was fractured and separated circumferentially just forward of the vertical stabilizer and horizontal stabilizer. The rudder remained attached at all hinges, and the elevators remained attached at all hinges.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The County of Los Angeles Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, Los Angeles, California, conducted an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was reported as "multiple blunt traumatic injuries."

The Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot; 0.388 (ug/ml, ug/g) of doxylamine was detected in the pilot's blood. Doxylamine is a sedating antihistamine available in a number of over-the-counter cold and allergy products. It is also the active ingredient in a few over-the-counter sleep aids. The usual therapeutic window is considered between 0.050 and 0.150 ug/ml. However, doxylamine undergoes significant postmortem redistribution; postmortem levels in central blood may be three times higher than peripheral blood. Tolerance to the effects of doxylamine is less likely to develop than for some of the other sedating antihistamines; therefore, the use of this drug causes some degree of psychomotor slowing.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Airframe Examination

The cabin area was heavily fragmented; however, the instrument panel remained relatively whole and was still connected to the firewall. Flight control continuity was established from the cabin flight controls to their respective flight control surfaces. 

The fuel system was traced from the wing fuel tanks to the center forward cabin where it was fracture-separated and fragmented. The remaining parts of the fuel system were heavily fragmented. The fuel selector plate and two arms that appeared to be a part of the fuel selector were found loose within the cabin area. One fuel selector body was found; it contained one open end with what appeared to be a one-way check valve and one fractured rod end. 

Engine Examination

There was no evidence of catastrophic malfunction or preimpact fire. The crankcase's nose section sustained heavy impact damage. Due to the damage to the crankcase, the crankshaft would not rotate by hand. Holes were drilled into the case; the inside of the case was examined with a borescope, and there was no evidence of internal mechanical malfunction. 

The induction system sustained heavy crush damage. The fuel injection servo sustained heavy crush damage and was fragmented; however, the throttle and mixture controls were still secured to their respective control arms. The fuel pump was found displaced from its mounting pad; it was disassembled, and there was no evidence of flow obstruction or internal mechanical malfunction. The fuel flow divider remained secured at its mounting pad with the fuel lines secured at their respective fittings. The left magneto was rotated by hand, and it produced sparks at all four posts; the right magneto was an electronic ignition system and could not be tested. The ignition harness was destroyed; the spark plugs were removed, and they exhibited wear patterns consistent with normal operation. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Pilot's Friend Statement

A friend of the pilot reported that the pilot would often text him when he arrived at the airport about 1230. On the day of the accident, he received a text from the pilot about 1249. He said that he seemed like he was in a hurry that day because he was supposed to have returned to SDL the day before. He later found out that the pilot and his wife had argued about it.

The friend stated that the pilot conducted most of his own maintenance. He also mentioned that the pilot had recently become conscious about where he purchased fuel. Based on the VNY tower controller's direction for the pilot to stay below 2,000 ft if flying Burbank after takeoff, he believes the pilot was flying to Whiteman Airport (WHP), which is 5 nautical miles away from VNY and is notorious for having cheaper fuel than VNY. In order to fly from VNY to WHP, one must contact Burbank air traffic control. 

E-mail Traffic


Between the time the pilot arrived at the airport and the time of the takeoff (between 1249 and 1311), the pilot's work e-mail documented nine messages, three of which were sent by the pilot. In the messages sent just prior to takeoff, the pilot mentioned that he was very confused about the discussion.

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA081
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 09, 2015 in Van Nuys, CA
Aircraft: GIBBS LANCAIR 320, registration: N7ZL
Injuries: 1 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 January 9, 2015, about 1300 Pacific standard time, a Lancair 320, N7ZL, impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from Van Nuys Airport (VNY), Van Nuys, California. The commercial pilot (sole occupant) was fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage throughout. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight and no flight plan was filed. The flight was destined for Scottsdale Airport (SDL), Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Witnesses reported that shortly after takeoff they heard the airplane's engine start to sputter and quit. They observed the airplane make a right turn; it started to shake before it nosed over and descended into an intersection below. The airplane impacted the ground hard and bounced backward about 15 feet, coming to rest upright. 

The airplane has been recovered to a secure location for further examination.






Dr. Alberto Behar. 





http://www.jpl.nasa.gov



Albert Enrique Behar dedicated his career to the idea that there was no place too hot, too cold or too remote for science. 

At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Arizona State University, he developed robotic instruments that investigated Antarctic lakes, the deep ocean and volcanoes and helped determine there was once water on the surface of Mars.

“Not just going there and visiting and coming back and saying, ‘I did it,’” said ASU colleague Jim Bell. “But going there and trying to do groundbreaking scientific discovery.”

Behar, 47, died Friday when the small plane he was flying crashed shortly after takeoff from Van Nuys Airport.  The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what led the single-engine Lancair to lose altitude and slam into a busy intersection near the airport.

Behar was an experienced pilot and instructor for airplanes and helicopters, and the weather was clear.

“I can’t see what would be the cause of something like this,” said Van Nuys pilot Kashif Khursheed. “He was very knowledgeable, competent and thorough.”

Behar had survived plane trouble in the past. In 2011, an aircraft carrying Behar and flown by Khursheed developed engine trouble and made an emergency landing on a Santa Clarita roadway. No one was hurt.

“He was very good in that crash,” Khursheed recalled. “He kept quiet when he was supposed to be quiet. I was actually quite impressed.”

A native of Miami, Behar earned his doctorate in electrical engineering from USC. In a 2009 interview posted on JPL’s website, Behar said he was attracted to robotics because it required skill in multiple fields.

He worked at JPL in La CaƱada Flintridge for 23 years and also held a research professor post at ASU, where he directed the Extreme Environments Robotics and Instrumentation Laboratory. Colleagues said his death was a profound loss for science. He was valued for bridging the divide between scientists trying to study an inhospitable environment and engineers whose robots could survive there.

“From his submarines that peeked under Antarctica to his boats that raced Greenland's rivers, Alberto's work enabled measurements of things we'd never known,” NASA scientist Thomas Wagner said in a statement. “His creativity knew few bounds. He is, and will forever be, sorely missed.”

As part of the NASA team exploring Mars with the Curiosity rover, Behar was responsible for a device that detected hydrogen on the planet’s surface as the rover moved.

Bell, a professor in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, said the instrument contributed to the team’s conclusion there had been water on Mars.

Two years ago, Behar took a robot he and his ASU students had developed to one of the most remote parts of Antarctica to probe a sub-glacial lake.

Not all of his solutions were high tech. In a climate change study in 2008, he used rubber ducks to track the flow of melting glaciers in Greenland.

Behar is survived by his wife and three children.



Source:  http://www.latimes.com


Alberto Behar



A small plane that had just taken off from Van Nuys Airport crashed onto a busy Lake Balboa intersection Friday afternoon, killing the pilot, a longtime Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist.

The crash occurred at 1:15 p.m. at the southwest corner of Hayvenhurst Avenue and Vanowen Street, said Sgt. Barry Montgomery of the Los Angeles Police Department.


Alberto Enrique Behar, 47, of Scottdale, Arizona, died at the scene of the crash, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. R. Hays said. Behar was the only person on board the aircraft.


According to his online resume on LinkedIn.com, Behar had worked as an investigation scientist at JPL in Pasadena since 1991, where he worked on robotics systems for planetary exploration.


His resume also described him as a test and ferry helicopter pilot for Lang Aircraft Services, a faculty member at the International Space University and an instrumentation engineer for the George One Crew Recovery Foundation.


Behar received a patent in 2011 for a robotic system he designed to operate in zero-gravity, according to the online profile. He earned a doctorate in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Southern California in 1998.


Behar has also worked as a faculty member at Arizona State University’s School of Earth & Space Exploration, according to the college’s website.


“It’s amazing no one on the ground was injured,” Montgomery said. “It’s a Friday afternoon and there were lots of people on the street. I can only say, someone was looking out for them.”


Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration were on the scene by midafternoon, and a team from the National Transportation Safety Board was en route, he said.


Bogart Monroy, who paints airplanes and other equipment at the airport, said the pilot had just taken off. Monroy, who said he knew the pilot for ten years, only by his first name, Alberto, had a wife and three children.


“It’s a sad day for us at the airport,” Monroy said. “There are already a lot of people in mourning at the airport.”


According to an FAA aircraft registry, registration on the experimental, amateur-built Lancair 320 was pending. The airplane’s current status was listed as “in question,” and no information regarding the aircraft’s certification date was available. The year of the plane’s manufacture was also unavailable. The last listed airworthiness certification listed in the database was in October 1996.


The plane’s ownership was listed as “registration pending,” but Alberto Behar Consulting LLC of Scottsdale, Ariz., was listed under “other owner names.”


The nose of the white-and-red, single-engine plane, its engine and cockpit were demolished.


The wings, part of the fuselage and the tail remained intact.


Video from a security camera at LA Auto Connection showed that the plane appeared to come straight down out of the sky, impacting near the sidewalk in front of the business on the west side of Hayvenhurst at Vanowen, with the tail section sliding a few feet around the corner onto Vanowen.


Farzan Amiri, project manager at Fixotek.com, a company that provides office computing services to LA Auto Connection and other firms, said that from watching the security video, it appears the plane might have come apart in the air.


“It’s sad, very sad,” he said. “It’s just excruciating to see this. The moment of someone’s death — it’s not fun to watch.”


“We heard a big impact,” said Pat Gallegos, 26, sales manager at LA Auto Connection. “This corner is known for traffic accidents, but this sounded like a tractor trailer. The impact was so loud and hard that it rattled the place.


“We came out and didn’t see any cars and then I saw the plane engulfed in flames. We got a fire extinguisher to put out the fire, but by then it was too late” to help anybody, said Gallegos, 26, of Downey.


“There is not much left of the plane. The cockpit was totally demolished and it was obvious the pilot died on impact.”


Gallegos said that a woman in a gray car was making a left turn when the plane crashed, narrowly missing her car. The woman got out of the car, became upset and left the scene, Gallegos said.


The whole front end of the plane lay in pieces on the street. The tail section was resting on the street with the front end up against the curb in a pile of debris.


Operations at Van Nuys Airport were not affected.


The runway at Van Nuys Airport was inspected following the crash and is operational, according to spokeswoman Mary Grady.


The intersection where the plane went down was closed, according to reports from the scene, and Metro reported buses on Line 165 were being detoured from Vanowen Street to Victory Boulevard between Woodley Avenue and Balboa Boulevard.


Source:  http://www.dailynews.com

 


Alberto Behar


A small plane crashed in an intersection after departing Van Nuys Airport Friday afternoon, killing the aircraft’s pilot. 


The plane went down at Hayvenhurst Avenue and Vanowen Street, just south of the small airport in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.


The Los Angeles Fire Department was called to the scene at 1:14 p.m., and the one occupant on board was determined to be dead, according to the department’s Erik Scott.

The pilot was identified as 47-year-old Alberto Enrique Behar of Scottsdale, Arizona, Lt. R. Hays with Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office said.

Behar was a professor at Arizona State University as well as a member of the Mobility and Robotic Systems Section at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, according to his online biography.

The plan did not collide with any vehicles, structures or people on the ground, authorities said.

“It could have been a lot worse,” police Sgt. Barry Montgomery said. “The citizens in this area really were fortunate that it wasn’t a more tragic incident.”

The fixed-wing aircraft was down in the middle of the intersection, and firefighters appeared to have placed a sheet over a body, aerial video from Sky5 showed. The aircraft’s cockpit was destroyed.

Witness Cheryl Dickerson said she saw the plane but heard no engine noise and then there was a “loud crash” and she saw the plane “just break apart.” She said it looked like the plane tried to avoid people on the street.

“There were people up and down the street. Everybody was screaming and running over there to see if we could help,” Dickerson said. “But by the time we got there, there was nothing anybody could do. … I am in shock — to see something like that so close and not to be able to help.”

The plane’s tail number indicated it was an experimental, amateur-built, single-engine, fixed-wing Lancair 320.

The plane’s registration was listed as “pending” in Federal Aviation Administration records, and it was linked to an address in Scottsdale.

In response to an email inquiry, a spokesman for the FAA said only that the Lancair had crashed under “unknown circumstances” after departing from Van Nuys Airport.

The National Transportation Safety Board was the lead in an investigation into the crash, Scott said in emailed update.

The Fire Department was working with the airport and police to determine what led to the crash, Scott told KTLA.

The intersection of two major thoroughfares was shut down and traffic was being rerouted by police, who urged drivers to avoid the area.

Runways at Van Nuys Airport were inspected after the crash, and the airport’s Twitter account stated that the facility was operational.

Source:  http://ktla.com 




Photo by Mike Meadows/Los Angeles Daily News



















































































































1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Words can't describe how sad this story is.