Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cessna 172M Skyhawk, Flight 101 LLC, N9926Q: Lawsuit Over Fatal Plane Crash



PHILADELPHIA (CN) - Four people died screaming when a Cessna flying out of Michigan lost power and crashed, the families of two passengers claim in court.  

The May 4 complaint against Avco Corp., Lycoming Engines and other manufacturers involves a flight that took off from Oakland County International Airport on June 21, 2013.

When the plane was just a couple of hundred feet off the ground, it began suffering a power loss and "never recovered sufficient power to continue the flight," according to the complaint in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

The plane ultimately crashed into the ground and caught fire, killing Sandra Haley, 53, Jamie Jose, 35 and two others.

Haley's and Jose's families filed the May 4 complaint, which goes into minute detail that the terror these passengers endured in their final moments.

Jose, the father of three minor children, "suffered multiple skull fractures," among other injuries, and died in the crash, according to the complaint.
   
Haley made it to the hospital with burns to 65 percent of her body but was pronounced dead within hours, her mother says.

"She was heard screaming after the plane crashed and exploded," the complaint states.

The families say Pennsylvania-based Avco and its subsidiaries, Lycoming Engines and Avco Lycoming-Textron Williamsport, fraudulently concealed loose screws, crush-prone gaskets and a defective float system on their Lycoming O-320-E2D engine. Avstar Fuel Systems, a parts manufacturer for Lycoming engines, is also names as a defendant, as is D&G Design, the repair station "responsible for the airworthiness of the accident carburetor for use in the" engine that failed during Haley and Jose's flight.

Haley and Jose's families say these companies knew that the engine and its carburetor had a long history of malfunctions prior to this crash, but concealed this knowledge from the Federal Aviation Association and other aircraft regulatory authorities during and after the engine's certification process.

In particular, the defendants allegedly knew or should have known that crush-prone carburetor gaskets could result in an engine being unable to generate power.

The defendants also allegedly failed to provide adequate safety warnings or maintenance instructions to aircraft engine owners, including the owner of the Cessna aircraft involved in the fatal accident, according to the complaint.

Though the defendants overhauled the accident aircraft's engine in 2008, they failed to fix the defects they knew were present, the families say.

The families seek punitive damages for negligence, recklessness, strict product liability, fraud, and breach of implied and express warranties.

They are represented by Cynthia Devers of the Philadelphia-based Wolk Law Firm. 


Courthouse News Service:  http://www.courthousenews.com

http://registry.faa.gov/N9926Q

NTSB Identification: CEN13FA364
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 21, 2013 in Waterford, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/10/2014
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N9926Q
Injuries: 4 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.

Air traffic control tower personnel saw the airplane lift off the runway and attain an altitude of about 100 feet. A pilot approaching the runway for landing saw the airplane lift off and noticed it was not climbing. He saw the airplane "lagging" and "wallowing in the air with flaps extended." Shortly after, the accident pilot advised an air traffic controller that he was "a little overweight" and would need to return to the airport and land. The air traffic controller cleared the airplane to land on the parallel runway or the grass area surrounding the runways. The pilot did not respond. Several witnesses near the airport, including the pilot in the landing airplane, saw the accident airplane impact the ground and burst into flames. A postaccident examination revealed that the wing flaps were fully extended (40 degrees). Weight and balance calculations indicated the airplane was slightly under maximum gross weight. Postaccident examinations revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The pilot received his private pilot certificate almost 2 months before the accident and had flown a Cirrus SR20 almost exclusively. He reportedly had flown the Cessna 172, the accident airplane make and model, for a few hours, but this report could not be confirmed. Cirrus SR20 takeoffs are normally made using 50 percent flaps, whereas Cessna 172M takeoffs are normally made with the flaps up. The pilot most likely configured the airplane incorrectly for takeoff and the airplane was unable to climb due to his lack of familiarity with the airplane make and model.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot's failure to retract the wing flaps before attempting to take off, due to his lack of familiarity with the airplane make and model, which prevented the airplane from maintaining adequate altitude for takeoff.




Troy Brothers, his mother, Sandra Haley and his stepfather, James Haley 




Jamie Jose
Courtesy of Northfield Township Fire Department
~



   Troy Brothers




 
Jamie Jose


  Troy Brothers


Jamie Jose

CZAW SportCruiser, G-EWZZ: Pilot in plane crash had not completed necessary training, investigation finds

Thomas McGowan, 63, died after suffering severe burns in a plane crash on the Isle of Bute in August 2014



A pilot  involved in a fatal plane crash on the Isle of Bute which claimed the life of his only passenger was not up to date in his training, investigators have found.

A report by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) said there was no evidence that the 53-year-old pilot, who has not been named, had completed the additional training necessary to fly the CZAW SportCruiser (G-EWZZ).

The light aircraft crashed moments after take-off from runway 27 at Bute Airstrip, near Kinglass, at 2.40pm on August 9 last year.

According to the pilot, the engine had cut out and the aircraft was unable to climb, leading him to attempt an emergency landing. Instead the plane struck the ground and overturned before coming to rest upside down in a ditch and catching fire.

Both the pilot and his passenger, 63-year-old Thomas McGowan, from Stonehouse in Lanarkshire, suffered severe burns and were airlifted to hospital in Glasgow.

Mr McGowan later died from his injuries.

The friends had flown from Strathaven to Bute for a lunch with other pilots, and were the last to take off.

The AAIB report into the incident noted that the pilot had obtained his National Private Pilot's License in April 2010 and accumulated 100 flying hours on the CZAW SportCruiser prior to the crash.

However, investigators said that while his logbook showed he had "met the ongoing validity requirements" to pilot a simple single-engine Aeroplane (SSEA), this rating "requires additional differences in training to operate aircraft with variable pitch propellers", which the CZAW SportCruiser had been fitted with.

The report continued: "Such training is recorded by an entry and signature in the pilot's logbook by a suitably qualified instructor; there was no record that this additional training had been completed."

Accident investigators also found that the home-built aircraft had been "fitted with unrecorded modifications, which meant that it was not in compliance with its Permit to Fly".

In particular, the modifications meant the aircraft was "likely to have been over its approved [weight] of 600kg", although investigators said it was unlikely that this alone had inhibited its ability to climb.

The pilot had also disabled the stall warning system due to a number of "spurious warnings".

However, investigators said the level of fire damage to the aircraft meant it was impossible to determine whether the engine had lost power and caused the crash.

The AAIB has issued a number of safety improvement in relation to on-board parachute systems for this type of aircraft.

Original article can be found here:   http://www.heraldscotland.com

Synopsis

Shortly after takeoff from Runway 27 at Bute Airstrip, the pilot reported that the engine appeared to lose power and the aircraft was no longer able to climb.  With the area around the airfield unsuitable for a landing he attempted to return to the runway, but in doing so flew into the ground.  The aircraft came to rest upside down in a ditch and caught fire.  The pilot and passenger sustained serious burns from which the passenger later died. The aircraft was fitted with a ballistic parachute recovery system which had not been activated during the flight.  However, the investigation highlighted a number of issues, concerning such systems, which present a risk to the aircraft occupants and first responders following an accident.

Seven Safety Recommendations were made to address the risk to individuals following an accident involving an aircraft equipped with a ballistic parachute recovery system.

Introduction  

The accident involving G-EWZZ highlighted a number of issues concerning the risk of injury to third parties following an accident involving an aircraft fitted with a ballistic parachute recovery system.  In order to address these issues, this accident report has been written in two sections.  The first will address the accident and the second the ballistic parachute recovery system.

Accident report and photos:  https://www.gov.uk

http://www.caa.co.uk

As a pilot, I’m not keen on sharing the skies with drones -Barrie Rokeach; Drones Boom Raises New Question: Who Owns Your Airspace?

By Barrie Rokeach
May 13, 2015


A few months ago, I was a passenger on a commercial flight departing John Wayne Airport in Orange County. At about 700 feet I noticed a drone about 1,000 feet away from our aircraft. As a general aviation pilot, I shuddered to think about what would have happened if we had made contact, or the potential catastrophe if I had been flying one of the single-engine airplanes I’ve piloted for over 40 years.

This scenario is becoming ever more likely as more drones take to the air. Even the lighter drones now intruding into the airspace have sufficient mass to bring down a small aircraft, and could possibly wreak havoc on a commercial airliner.

So I read with interest Chronicle business columnist Thomas Lee’s recent column about a Santa Cruz conference on the future of drones (“FAA official odd man out at drab site for drone talks,” May 5). In his column, Lee complained about the “slow rollout of drones in the United States,” and faulted the FAA for not having “some sort of regular relationship with the tech industry.” While many people criticize the agency for moving like molasses, that is also one of its inherent strengths: making sure any innovation is proven before introducing it into an intricate and potentially perilous environment.

Lee is echoing a drumbeat from Washington. Congress, at the behest of the drone industry, has been pushing the FAA to integrate these pilotless vehicles into a crowded airspace too quickly for comfort.

I have logged thousands of hours flying around the Bay Area, which has a dozen or more airspaces. Such airspaces are complex, and that is exactly what the tech industry might not appreciate. A pilot is licensed only after mastering the intricacies of the modern airspace, and learning to use the instruments required by the FAA to fly safely.

Student pilots must complete a minimum of 40 hours of flight training to be certified. The average student, however, requires much longer to master all that goes into flying an airplane, especially in the Bay Area. The pilot has to keep the aircraft aloft while navigating precisely and keeping track of both altitude and longitudinal position, consulting maps or an electronic tablet, communicating with controllers (a particularly steep learning curve), and maintaining situational awareness and separation from other aircraft, all while constantly scanning an array of a dozen or more critical instruments. Texting while driving is a piece of cake compared with piloting a plane.

And that is just the operational aspects of flying. The Airman’s Information Manual is 1,333 pages long. The Pilot’s Operating Handbook, required for each aircraft type, can be several hundred pages long. Aviation maps contain hundreds of symbols depicting airspace, topographic, airport, radio, navigation and geographic information. The key to those symbols, the Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide, is 85 pages. Much of this information needs to be available at immediate recall.

That’s only the beginning: flying at night, cross-country, over water, in mountainous terrain, high altitude, bad weather or in convoluted airspaces all have their own requirements and limitations. More sophisticated aircraft add additional burdens.

In short, flying is a demanding activity, one still requiring human presence and instinct. When you rely too much on technology, you get the Asiana disaster at SFO. When you retain the human factor, you get Sully Sullenberg landing safely in the Hudson River. This argues for the FAA taking its time to institute thorough training for drone operators, establish carefully designed regulations for where and how drones can be operated, and ascertain the requisite drone instrumentation.

Barrie Rokeach, a private pilot and professional photographer, lives in Berkeley.

Original article can be found here:   http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion





Drones Boom Raises New Question: Who Owns Your Airspace?  

17 states have passed laws to restrict use of craft, but where does private property begin?

The Wall Street Journal 
By Jack Nicas
May 13, 2015 12:43 p.m. ET


Communities across the country are grappling with a surge in drone use that’s raising safety and privacy concerns—and thorny legal questions—about a slice of sky officials have largely disregarded.

State and local police say complaints are soaring about drones flying above homes, crowds and crime scenes. At least 17 states, meanwhile, have passed laws to restrict how law enforcement and private citizens use the devices—preemptive policies that many drone users say are heavy-handed. And despite federal regulators’ stance that they alone regulate U.S. skies, some cities and towns are banning the devices, from St. Bonifacius, Minn. (pop. 2,283), to Austin, Texas, which effectively barred them at the South by Southwest technology-and-music festival in March.

“It’s a game changer,” said Richard Beary, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, who complains that local law enforcement lacks the means or legal authority to do much about the emerging drone challenge. “We’ve never been responsible for airspace before. We understand the ground game; now all of a sudden you want state and local to regulate airspace?”

Indeed, few have paid much attention to the airspace within a few hundred feet above the ground. Since 1930, planes have been largely restricted from flying below 500 feet, leaving lower altitudes mostly to birds, kites, model planes and, in some cases, helicopters.

In recent years, technology advances have made remote-controlled aircraft cheaper, more powerful and easier to fly, and now tens of thousands of the devices are cluttering that band of sky. Use is expected to soar further next year, when proposed federal rules for commercial drone flights are likely to be completed.

Those commercial rules don’t address private use by individuals, where some of the most vexing issues lie, such as how to prevent people from using drones to spy into neighbors’ windows, or flying them into manned aircraft. Those issues are falling into a regulatory no-man’s land.

The Federal Aviation Administration restricts private drones from flying near airports and manned aircraft, but says a 2012 federal law limits it from regulating most other aspects of their use. The agency also says that state and local authorities can’t regulate drone flights because it is the sole regulator of the airspace.

Local officials are acting anyway. In addition to the 17 states that have passed drone laws, at least 29 others are considering new legislation. The result is a patchwork: Texas, North Carolina and Idaho restrict drone users from filming some bystanders without permission, while Illinois bans drones from interfering with hunters.

Some cities and towns are barring drones outright, particularly ahead of big events. Augusta-Richmond County in Georgia banned the devices during the Masters golf tournament there last month. New York City Council members are considering a ban on virtually any drone flight over the city. And the manager of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge has asked lawmakers to restrict private drones after one crashed on the bridge.

Northampton, Mass., has challenged the FAA with a resolution declaring that local landowners control the 500 feet above their property. The town cites a 1946 Supreme Court ruling, in a case involving North Carolina chicken farmers angry about flights overhead, that landowners have “exclusive control over the immediate reaches” above their land.

Many attorneys have cited that 1946 case as a looming dilemma for regulators and the drone industry. They say it poses tough legal questions, such as where does “navigable airspace” begin and the control of property owners end?

“We weren’t forced to answer these questions and we absolutely will be now,” said John Villasenor, a public-policy professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “And I’m quite sure that we collectively don’t have the answers yet.”

The FAA says the advent of drones has extended “navigable airspace”—and thus the FAA’s authority—down to the ground. As long as private drones don’t endanger people, the agency says, they can legally hover just above private property in the U.S. The agency added that many states and cities have “noise and nuisance” laws they can use to prosecute drone users who fly over private property.

Paul Voss, an engineering professor at Smith College in Northampton, lobbied for the town council’s resolution on drones. The FAA’s stance effectively means “all public airspace down to the ground is considered a public highway for unmanned aircraft, and any private investigator or paparazzi can fly there,” he said. “It’s the commercialization of everywhere. Everywhere is now open for commercial airspace and there’s no notion of private property anymore except for the grass itself.”

Police are also struggling with drones, said Mr. Beary, head of the 23,000-member police-chief association. Authorities have tested radar, audio sensors and net guns to protect public events like Major League Baseball games and the Boston Marathon from dangerous drone use, but no proven solution exists, Mr. Beary said.

“Unfortunately law enforcement doesn’t have much to go on,” he said. “The regulations don’t exist, and quite frankly the [privacy] laws on the books were designed for someone looking in your window, not someone flying a drone 50 feet above your backyard.”

Federal guidance only complicates the job, he said. The FAA has asked local police to help it enforce its drone rules, while also warning authorities they should tread lightly; the devices are protected under federal law because they are legally considered aircraft, like a passenger jet.

“There are significant, significant penalties about interference and destruction of civil aircraft,” FAA attorney Charles Raley told law-enforcement officials at a symposium this year. “Before you charge back and say, ‘We’re…shotgunning these things out of the sky,’ talk to counsel.”

Still, police are arresting drone users despite the legal uncertainty. In late April, a Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park ranger tased a drone pilot and arrested him for flying his small copter in the park, where drones are banned. Authorities charged him with “interfering with agency functions” and “operating an aircraft on undesignated land.”

In upstate New York, 50-year-old mobile-home salesman David Beesmer is facing unlawful-surveillance charges for a brief flight outside a medical office near his home. The drone couldn’t see through the office’s tinted windows, he says. But, acting on patients’ complaints, New York State Police arrested Mr. Beesmer—after he gave them a flight demo. The police declined to comment.

“They didn’t know what to do,” Mr. Beesmer said. “They had a formal complaint…and they probably did what they thought was best.”

Story, video, photo and comments:  http://www.wsj.com

Airports Facing Financial Crunch

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA170
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 29, 2015 in Orange, VA
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-140, registration: N32396
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.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On March 29, 2015, about 0940 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N32396, impacted terrain during takeoff from Orange County Airport (OMH), Orange, Virginia. The airplane was substantially damaged, and the student pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which was operated by Skyline Aviation Services. The solo instructional flight was destined for Farmville Regional Airport (FVX), Farmville, Virginia, and was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. 

The owner of the flight school was also a flight instructor (CFI) who had flown with the student on several occasions. She stated that the student was departing on his first solo cross-country flight when the accident occurred. The morning of the accident, she reviewed his preflight planning, endorsed his logbook for the flight, and assisted him in a preflight inspection of the airplane and engine run-up check. She stated that she observed no anomalies with the airplane. The pilot then taxied the airplane to the other side of the airport to obtain fuel, then performed a second engine run-up and departed from runway 08. She stated that the takeoff appeared normal, but the pilot initiated a left turn to the crosswind leg of the traffic pattern earlier than was customary. As the airplane turned left, its nose pitched up abruptly, and it rolled sharply left and descended to ground contact. The CFI immediately called 911 and responded to the accident site to render assistance.

Two pilot-rated witnesses located on the north side of the airport observed the airplane during the takeoff and provided written statements to local law enforcement. They remarked to each other that the airplane appeared "abnormally slow" and stated that it did not seem to be gaining altitude. Both individuals also reported viewing a thin trail of "smoke" or "brown exhaust" from the airplane's engine. The witnesses observed the airplane make a sharp left turn from an altitude about 150 feet above ground level, and descend steeply to ground contact. One of the witnesses reported that the wind at the time of the accident was light and variable from the north and east. In subsequent, separate telephone interviews, both witnesses stated that they did not observe any birds in the vicinity of the airport at the time of the accident. Additionally, neither of the witnesses perceived any changes or abnormalities in the airplane's engine noise during the takeoff, though one of the witnesses reported that the engine sounded "quieter than it should be."

Another witness reported that he was driving parallel to the runway at OMH. He reported seeing the accident airplane accelerate down the runway, and stated that it "looked like it was having trouble" shortly after it became airborne. He observed the airplane's nose pitch up twice, and also observed a trail of black smoke that extended the length of the airplane. He stated that the airplane appeared to "level out," then made a "hard" left turn as the nose dropped. The airplane then disappeared from his view behind trees and terrain. 

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a student pilot certificate and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate, which was issued on January 20, 2015. Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated 30.6 total hours of flight experience, of which about 18 hours were in the accident airplane, and 2.7 hours were solo. 

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

The airplane was manufactured in 1974, and was originally equipped with a Lycoming O-320 series, 150 hp reciprocating engine. In 2002, the engine was overhauled and equipped with a Penn Yan Aero RAM160 supplemental type certificate, which resulted in an increase to 160 hp. Review of maintenance logs indicated that the airplane's most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on February 20, 2015, at a total airframe time of 5,156 hours. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accrued 5,187.6 hours in operation. 

According to the owner of the flight school, the school had operated the accident airplane under a lease agreement for about 18 months prior to the accident, and had purchased the airplane about 3 weeks prior to the accident.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 0935 weather observation at OMH included wind from 040 degrees at 3 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -12 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.41 inches of mercury. 

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane came to rest upright in a field located about 1,330 feet northeast of the departure end of runway 08, with the wreckage oriented on a heading of about 170 degrees magnetic. The initial impact point was identified by a ground scar about 30 feet south of the main wreckage that contained pieces of the left wing navigation light. Areas of disturbed soil extended north from the initial impact point about 15 feet toward a large impact crater about 6 feet in length and 3 feet in width, which contained pieces of the propeller spinner and ground scars consistent with propeller contact. 

The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft flange and one blade exhibited slight forward bending. Both blades displayed chordwise scratching and leading edge gouging. The engine remained attached to the fuselage by its bottom mounts. The fuselage displayed significant aft crushing from the engine firewall to the rear cabin seats, and was displaced to the left just aft of the baggage area.

Both left and right wings displayed significant aft crushing of their leading edges. The left wing was separated from the fuselage at its root and the fuel tank was breached. Residual fuel was found inside, and the fuel tank cap was in place and secure. The left aileron remained attached at its hinge points. Control continuity was established from the aileron to the cockpit area through cable breaks at the wing root that displayed signatures consistent with overstress failure.

The right wing remained attached to the fuselage at its root. The outboard approximate 4 feet was bent upward about 45 degrees. The right fuel tank was breached and leaking fuel; the right fuel tank cap was in place and secure. The right aileron remained attached at its hinge points and control continuity was established from the aileron to the cockpit area. The wing flaps were fully retracted.

The empennage was intact and displayed minor impact damage. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer at its hinge points, and the stabilator remained attached at its mounting blocks. Rudder and stabilator control continuity was established to the cockpit area. The stabilator trim screw indicated a trim position between neutral and full nose-up trim. The windscreen and left cabin window were destroyed upon impact, and pieces of each were distributed along the wreckage path and around the main wreckage. Examination of the wings, empennage, and windscreen pieces did not reveal any evidence of a bird strike. 

The carburetor heat control was in the "off" position, and the engine primer was in and locked. The fuel selector was in the right tank position, and could not be manipulated due to impact damage. 

The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand at the propeller hub and continuity of the valve and powertrains was confirmed. The spark plugs were removed and displayed black carbon fouling. The #1 and #3 cylinder bottom plugs were oil-covered; consistent with the engine's postimpact orientation. Thumb compression was obtained on all cylinders, and borescope examination of the cylinders revealed no anomalies. The carburetor inlet screen was absent of debris. The carburetor was removed and the bowl was opened. The floats were intact, and the bowl contained fuel consistent with the color and odor of 100 low lead aviation fuel and was absent of contamination. The magnetos remained secured to their mounts, and were removed and actuated by hand. Each magneto produced spark at all of its terminal leads. 

The airplane was examined at a secure storage facility on April 29, 2015. The pilot's seat was secure on the track, and the seat position adjustment lever functioned properly when manipulated. Neither the seat track nor the locking pins displayed any abnormal or excessive wear. The spark plugs were tested for operation. Three of the eight plugs produced weak and intermittent spark. One plug produced no spark; however, this plug was likely damaged during postaccident removal from the engine.

The stall warning switch was removed for testing and electrical continuity was confirmed when the switch was manipulated. 

MEDICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Northern Virginia District, Manassas, Virginia. The cause of death was identified as blunt trauma. Toxicological testing was performed by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Testing was negative for carbon monoxide, ethanol, and all tested-for drugs and their metabolites.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Carburetor Testing

The carburetor was examined and tested at the manufacturer's facility on May 26, 2015, with an FAA inspector present. Initial flow testing revealed that the main gasket and float were misaligned; likely due to the disassembly and reassembly performed on-scene. The floats appeared to be in good condition and the arms were not damaged. The floats were aligned properly, and the carburetor was flow tested a second time at four different power settings. Throughout all power settings, the carburetor produced a fuel flow that was between 9.3% and 12.1% richer than the master unit, and between 2.5% and 7.5% richer than the maximum acceptable limits prescribed by the manufacturer. 

Further review of the airplane's maintenance logs revealed that the airplane did not undergo any inspections or maintenance between December 2010, at a total airframe time of 4,876.7 hours, and an annual inspection in May 2013, at a total time of 4,887.4 hours. Review of work orders indicated that in February 2013, all four engine cylinders were disassembled, cleaned, inspected, and returned to service limits. In April 2013, the carburetor was "repaired as necessary;" the work order also indicated compliance with a manufacturer service bulletin that called for the replacement of hollow floats with solid, epoxy floats. 

Stall and Spin Awareness

FAA Advisory Circular 61-67C, "Stall and Spin Awareness Training," stated, "Stalls resulting from improper airspeed management are most likely to occur when the pilot is distracted by one or more tasks, such as locating a checklist or attempting a restart after an engine failure; flying a traffic pattern on a windy day; reading a chart or making fuel and/or distance calculations; or attempting to retrieve items from the floor, backseat, or glove compartment. Pilots at all skill levels should be aware of the increased risk of entering into an inadvertent stall or spin while performing tasks that are secondary to controlling the aircraft." 

A small plane flown by a 16-year-old Riverbend High School student may have stalled before it plummeted to the ground last year, killing the teenager, a flight expert said.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a “factual report” Friday that details the March 29, 2015, crash that killed Ryan McCall of Spotsylvania County shortly after the single-engine Piper airplane took off.

The report does not include a probable cause, but does note that the plane engine’s carburetor produced too much fuel, and a few of the spark plugs were weak during post-accident tests. That, coupled with statements from witnesses who said the plane was “abnormally slow,” show that “the possibility existed that the engine was not generating full power” as it ascended from Orange County Airport, said Jim Stover, the owner of JLS Aviation at Shannon Airport.

It’s unclear when the NTSB will release a final report with a probable cause of the crash.

Two witnesses—both of whom are pilots—said they saw smoke coming from the engine, and that the plane made a sharp left turn before descending steeply to the ground, according to the NTSB report.

A witness who was driving nearby said the plane looked like it was having trouble shortly after it became airborne.

He said the plane’s nose “pitched up” twice. The aircraft appeared to level out before making a hard left turn as its nose dropped, according to that witness, who told the NTSB he saw a “trail of black smoke that extended the length of the airplane.”

Stover said the sharp left turn indicates the plane may have stalled, though he said he could not say that with complete certainty. In addition, he said it’s possible the pilot pulled up the nose in response to a lower-than-expected altitude. There is a ridge north of the Orange airport, Stover noted.

“The pilot may have seen the ridge and pitched up in response to appearing to be low in relation to the terrain to the left or in front of him,” he wrote in an email.

The owner of Skyline Aviation Services, where McCall took flight lessons, told the NTSB that the student’s takeoff appeared normal, but he turned left earlier than was customary, according to the report. As the airplane went left, its nose pitched upward before rolling sharply to the left and crashing, the flight school owner told the NTSB.

Efforts to reach Skyline Aviation owner Candace Pack for comment were unsuccessful. She told the NTSB that she didn’t see any anomalies during a pre-flight inspection of the plane, according to the factual report.

McCall’s cause of death was “blunt trauma,” according to an autopsy. The report does not say if he was wearing a seat belt or shoulder harness.

McCall planned to fly from Orange to Farmville Regional Airport—which would have marked his first solo airport-to-airport flight. The teen had 30.6 hours of flight experience—including 18 hours aboard the plane that crashed.

The 1974 plane had logged 5,156 hours of operation at the time of its last inspection in January 2015.

Skyline Aviation had leased the plane for about 18 months before purchasing it three weeks before the accident.

A work order stated that the plane’s carburetor was “repaired as necessary” in April 2013, according to the NTSB.

Joseph Deal, left, and Richard Poch




Ryan Lee McCall
~


On the day pilots Richard Poch and Joseph Deal were killed when their small plane plunged to the ground near West Chester, an airplane of the same model also crashed, killing its pilot, just 200 miles south, in Orange, Va.

By numbers alone, the crashes - just two of six accidents involving small planes in the United States that March 29 - could have been enough to spook casual observers.

But they didn't rattle local airport officials.

"That's like saying two Nissan Sentras crashed yesterday," said Jeff Suveg, assistant manager of Brandywine Airport in West Chester, from which Deal and Poch departed.

"Thousands of planes and cars are out there every day. People only pay attention when it's a plane falling from the sky."

Instead, local pilots say, crashes contribute to a larger issue. Many community airports are struggling. And the stigma surrounding crashes, they worry, is exacerbating problems that include dwindling airport profits and a shrinking number of pilots.

Community airports outnumber major hubs such as Philadelphia International Airport nearly eightfold.

In the five-county Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania, 14 airports are open for general aviation, categorized as all civilian flights excluding passenger airlines, such as small private planes or larger business jets.

In South Jersey, Burlington County has four public-use community airports. Gloucester County has three, and Camden County has one.

Crash statistics for such airports indicate that accidents happen less frequently than is often perceived, pilots said.

Since 1982, 12 of the 14 Pennsylvania airports have reported accidents: 142 in total, 21 fatal, according to data from the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that investigates all accidents and some small incidents.

Thirty-five deaths are reported for that 33-year period, about one fatality per year in the region.

In South Jersey, 78 accidents have been reported at the eight local airports since 1982. Nine of those have been fatal, resulting in 14 deaths

"There is a disconnect between people's perceptions of the risks and what the realities are," said George Perry, senior vice president of the Air Safety Institute, a Frederick, Md.-based organization that provides pilot safety education.

The March 29 deaths of Poch and Deal are the only two fatalities reported for 2015 in the five counties. Montgomery County has five of the airports; Bucks County, four; Chester County, three; and Delaware County and Philadelphia have one each.

Federal officials are investigating the March 29 crash, which occurred seconds into a routine flight review testing Deal's skills. The plane was found a half-mile away, consumed by flames, in a residential backyard.

Officials said they were inspecting the fuel supply system of the single-engine plane,  a Piper PA 28-140,  and investigating who last maintained the plane.

Some experts worry about human error more than anything else.

"People get on those planes believing that a pilot is a pilot," said Damian Fowler, who studied small-plane crashes for three years while writing Falling Through Clouds, a true story of a plane crash.

"Not every pilot is the same, and those with lower airtime will get into more problems."

But local pilots such as John Kassab, manager at Brandywine Airport, said they often feel safer flying than driving. In 2013, there were 32,719 highway fatalities in the United States, according to the NTSB.

General aviation, by contrast, reported 387 deaths from 1,222 crashes.

"This isn't just 'girls and boys and their toys,' " Kassab said. "Flying a plane is something we take very seriously."

Brandywine Airport, like many in the area, is not elaborate: a runway, a small terminal, and about 75 hangars. A black Labrador lazily roams the property.

But the airport has more than 60,000 annual flights, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, contributing $9.4 million to the economy.

The department estimates all state airports generate $23.6 billion.

Brandywine, in addition to being a hub for private flights, offers landing space for medical, military, police, and business planes. But Kassab said the airport was only breaking even - and continuing to experience revenue declines.

Brandywine is one of six privately owned area airports open for public use, drawing revenue from hangar rentals, fuel sales, and other sources. The remaining eight are publicly owned. Most community airports are eligible for government grants.

But privately owned airports are feeling a tighter squeeze from property taxes: Brandywine pays $60,000 yearly, Kassab said.

Though some taxes can be reimbursed through grant programs, many publicly owned airports in the area are exempt from property taxes, said John Mininger, chairman of the Bucks County Airport Authority.

The pinch is forcing community airports to close at a rate of nearly one per month, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Some shut down when profits shrink. Others are enticed by developers willing to pay for flat land.

"Running an airport is a lifestyle," Mininger said. "If the interest isn't there, [owners] may sell."

The trend has trickled down to private pilots, too. From 2001 to 2011, the number of FAA certifications declined nearly 20 percent, according to AOPA data.

For Kassab, 60, the declines are upsetting. He remembers an era when flying was romanticized. Today, he said, aviation expenses and time burdens have subdued that.

"Kids used to come by the airport and say, 'Hey, mister, if I watch your plane fly, will you give me a ride?' " he said. "That barely happens anymore."

BY THE NUMBERS


$307.3M

Economic output by Northeast Phila. Airport, largest amount in the five local Pa. counties.

$268,200

Economic output by Butter Valley Golfport, smallest amount in the five local Pa. counties.

304,464

People employed by all Pa. airports.

Sources: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

Story, photo gallery and comments:  http://www.philly.com


NTSB Identification: ERA15FA171
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 29, 2015 in West Chester, PA
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28-140, registration: N6842W
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 March 29, 2015, about 1334 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-140, N6842W, registered to and operated by a private individual, crashed shortly after takeoff from Brandywine Airport (OQN), West Chester, Pennsylvania. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal, local flight. The airplane was destroyed by impact and a postcrash fire, and the certified flight instructor and private-rated pilot were fatally injured. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

The purpose of the flight was a flight review for the airplane owner, who had reportedly not flown since 2011. One witness on the airport reported hearing a rough running engine during a check of one magneto during an engine run-up, but the condition cleared up during a second magneto check after leaving the engine operating at a higher rpm for a period of time.

A takeoff from runway 27 was initiated, but by one witness account, the takeoff was aborted and the airplane was taxied off the runway at the second turn off. The witness did not hear any abnormal engine sounds associated with the aborted takeoff. The airplane was taxied to the approach end of runway 27, and no engine run-up was heard being performed. During takeoff, several witnesses reported hearing sputtering from the engine at a point when the airplane was about midpoint of the runway. The witness descriptions varied likely based on their locations in relation to the airplane whether the airplane was on the runway or just above it when the sputtering occurred. One witness who was located south of the runway described the sputtering as significant, while a second witness described it lasting 3 to 4 seconds while the airplane was only 2 to 3 feet above ground level. The nose of the airplane was observed to lower and engine power was heard to be restored.

The flight continued, and by several witness accounts, the airplane began to climb and the sputtering or popping sounds resumed. The airplane at that time by witness accounts was either ¾ down the runway, or west of the runway over 202. One witness did not observe any smoke trailing the airplane during the second sound of pops, and he could not tell if the engine continued to run. The airplane was observed struggling "to maintain altitude" with one witness stating the airplane never climbed higher than 200 feet. The airplane was observed by several witnesses in a left turn that steepened to what one witness described as wings vertical. The airplane was then observed to pitch nose down, and impacted the back yard of a residence. A postcrash fire began about 10 seconds after impact, which was extinguished by fire rescue.



NTSB Identification: ERA15FA170 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 29, 2015 in Orange, VA
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-140, registration: N32396
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 March 29, 2015, about 0940 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA28-140, N32396, impacted terrain after takeoff from Orange County Airport (OMH), Orange, Virginia. The student pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which was destined for Farmville Regional Airport (FVX), Farmville, Virginia. The instructional flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The owner of the flight school that operated the airplane stated that the student was departing on his first solo cross-country flight when the accident occurred. After reviewing his preflight planning and assisting him in a preflight inspection of the airplane and engine run-up check, she observed as the pilot taxied to the terminal to obtain fuel. The pilot then performed a second engine run-up and departed from runway 08. She stated that the takeoff appeared normal, but that the pilot appeared to initiate a left turn to the crosswind leg of the traffic pattern earlier than was customary. As the airplane turned left, she watched as its nose pitched upward before it rolled sharply left and descended to ground contact.

Two pilot-rated witnesses located on the north side of the airport observed the airplane during the takeoff. They remarked to each other that it appeared "abnormally slow" and stated that it did not seem to be gaining altitude. Both individuals also reported viewing a thin trail of "smoke" or "brown exhaust" from the airplane's engine. The witnesses observed the airplane make a sharp left turn and descend steeply to ground contact. One of the witnesses reported that the winds were light and variable from the north and east.

The pilot held a student pilot certificate and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate, which was issued on January 20, 2015. Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated 30.6 total hours of flight experience, of which about 18 hours were in the accident airplane, and 2.7 hours were solo.

The 0935 weather observation at OMH included wind from 040 degrees at 3 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -12 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.41 inches of mercury.

The airplane came to rest upright in a field located about 1,330 feet northeast of the departure end of runway 08, with the wreckage oriented on a heading of about 170 degrees magnetic. The initial impact point was identified by a ground scar about 30 feet south of the main wreckage that contained pieces of the left wing navigation light. Areas of disturbed soil extended north from the initial impact point about 15 feet toward a large impact crater about 6 feet in length and 3 feet in width, which contained pieces of the propeller spinner and ground scars consistent with propeller contact.

The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft flange and one blade exhibited slight forward bending. Both blades displayed chordwise scratching and leading edge gouging. The engine remained attached to the fuselage by its bottom mounts. The fuselage displayed significant aft crushing from the engine firewall to the rear cabin seats, and was displaced to the left just aft of the baggage area. Both left and right wings displayed significant aft crushing of their leading edges. The left wing was separated from the fuselage at its root and the fuel tank was breached. Residual fuel was found inside, and the fuel tank cap was in place and secure. The left aileron remained attached at its hinge points. Control continuity was established from the aileron to the cockpit area through cable breaks at the wing root that displayed signatures consistent with overstress failure. The right wing remained attached to the fuselage at its root. The outboard approximate 4 feet was bent upward about 45 degrees. The right fuel tank was breached and leaking fuel; the right fuel tank cap was in place and secure. The right aileron remained attached at its hinge points and control continuity was established from the aileron to the cockpit area. The wing flaps were fully retracted. The empennage was intact and displayed minor impact damage. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer at its hinge points, and the stabilator remained attached at its mounting blocks. Rudder and stabilator control continuity was established to the cockpit area. The windscreen and left cabin window were destroyed upon impact and pieces of each were distributed along the wreckage path and around the main wreckage. Examination of the wings, empennage, and windscreen pieces did not reveal any evidence of a bird strike.

The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand at the propeller hub and continuity of the valve and powertrains was confirmed. The spark plugs were removed and displayed black carbon fouling. Thumb compression was obtained on all cylinders, and borescope examination of the cylinders revealed no anomalies. The carburetor inlet screen was absent of debris. The carburetor was removed and the bowl was opened. The floats were intact, and the bowl contained fuel consistent with the color and odor of 100 low lead aviation fuel and was absent of contamination. The magnetos remained secured to their mounts, and were removed and actuated by hand. Each magneto produced spark at all of its terminal leads.