Sunday, April 17, 2016

Mooney M20M Bravo, N243CW: Fatal accident occurred October 24, 2015 near Worcester Regional Airport (KORH), Worcester County, Massachusetts

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

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA023
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 24, 2015 in Worcester, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/28/2017
Aircraft: MOONEY M20M, registration: N243CW
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 airline transport pilot was departing on a personal local flight in his airplane when the airplane's engine lost total power. Review of airport security video revealed that, after takeoff, the airplane reached an altitude of about 200 ft before turning right and reversing direction. The airplane subsequently stalled, rolled to the right, and descended uncontrolled into trees. It is likely that the pilot reversed direction to return to the airport but failed to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack, an aerodynamic stall, and loss of control. Examination of the engine revealed that the crankshaft had failed due to fatigue cracking between the No. 5 and No. 6 cheeks. The cracking pattern suggested that numerous overstress conditions of relatively short durations acted to initiate the fatigue cracks, but the cause for this overstress could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A total loss of engine power during the initial climb due to a fatigue failure of the engine's crankshaft. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 24, 2015, at 0753 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20M, N243CW, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after taking off from Worcester Regional Airport (ORH), Worcester, Massachusetts. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight.

There was no radar coverage of the area. Airport security cameras captured partial segments of the flight and showed that the airplane took off from runway 11. One camera showed the airplane in flight, climbing over the intersection of runway 15 about 1,500 ft from the departure end of the 7,000-ft-long takeoff runway. Using the height of the airplane's tail as a reference, the estimated altitude of the airplane was about 80 to 90 ft above the runway surface at that point, climbing in a slight right turn.

The airplane then flew out of view and reappeared about 16 seconds later headed in the roughly the opposite direction of takeoff. Based on the approximate height of the control tower, the airplane appeared to be about 200 ft above the ground in a shallow, climbing right turn. The airplane's nose then began dropping, and the right bank angle increased. The airplane continued to turn to the right in an increasingly nose-down attitude as it descended into a stand of trees.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION 

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multi-engine land, as well as a flight engineer certificate. He held an FAA third-class medical certificate, issued July 11, 2014. On the application for this medical certificate, the pilot reported a total flight experience of 7,217 hours. The pilot's logbook was not recovered. 

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The four-seat, low-wing airplane was manufactured in 1996. It was powered by a 310-horsepower Lycoming TIO-540 engine and equipped with a three-blade, constant-speed McCauley propeller. 

A review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on April 14, 2015. At that time, the airframe had accumulated 2,872.8 total flight hours. 

The engine logbooks could not be located. According to engine manufacturer data, the engine was manufactured in 1993 and returned once to their facility where it was overhauled in December 2001. According to the manufacturer's records, the engine was placed in service on the accident airplane on March 1, 2002. The investigation could not determine if the engine received a subsequent overhaul at another facility. The manufacturer recommended that the engine be overhauled every 2,000 hours or 12 years, whichever occurred first. 

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1154 recorded weather observation at ORH included wind from 350° at 8 knots, visibility 10 miles, overcast skies at 2,700 ft, temperature 1°C, dew point -3°C, and altimeter 30.39 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located in flat, wooded terrain, and the wreckage was confined to an area extending about 100 ft. There was no wreckage path; the airplane came almost straight down through the trees. There was no evidence of smoke or fire.

The propeller and spinner were found together, separated from the main wreckage, and mostly buried in the ground. The spinner exhibited fore-to-aft crushing, and none of the three propeller blades exhibited evidence typical of engine power at impact.

All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. The left wing was separated from the fuselage about 4 ft from the wing root, and the right wing was mostly still attached. The left horizontal stabilizer was separated from the airplane, and the right horizontal stabilizer remained attached. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the flight control surfaces to the cockpit.

The engine remained attached to the airframe and was subsequently removed and taken to a maintenance garage for further examination. The starter ring did not exhibit any evidence of powered rotation at impact. The crankshaft was rotated by hand at the flange; it rotated a few revolutions before it jammed and could not be rotated in either direction.

The oil suction screen was removed and found to be contaminated with metal fragments. The accessory case housing was removed, and the No. 5 main bearing was found partially extruded out through the crankshaft gear. Holes were also noted in internal portions of the crankcase halves, and the No. 6 connecting rod was broken.

The engine was subsequently disassembled, and the crankshaft was fractured between the No. 5 and No. 6 cheeks. The camshaft was also broken near the crankshaft fracture, and the interiors of the case halves were gouged rotationally, consistent with the damage having occurred while the engine was still operating.

The engine was sent to the manufacturer's materials laboratory for further investigation. According to the manufacturer's report, the metallurgical examination revealed that the crankshaft failed in fatigue, with crack initiation from the rear fillet radius of the No. 5 crankpin journal, followed by stable fatigue crack growth through nearly the entire section thickness of the No. 8 cheek. Fracture surface markings indicated a likelihood of multiple fatigue crack initiation sites. Multiple origins typically indicate high stress conditions; however, the majority of crack growth through the No. 8 cheek occurred under high-cycle fatigue loading, consistent with relatively lower nominal stress conditions. This cracking pattern suggested that overstress conditions of relatively short duration acted to initiate the fatigue cracks. The report stated that the root cause for this overstress was not determined, but it was not related to any material non-conformance. 

The crankshaft conformed to engineering drawing requirements for alloy chemistry, case hardness, case depth, and case and core microstructure. It was slightly below the core hardness specification, but this was not considered relevant for this fracture. Charpy impact test bars cut from the undamaged regions of the No. 8 cheek were free of any honeycomb or microcrack features, indicating the steel had not been exposed to excessively high temperatures during billet forging or crankshaft forging. The crankshaft journal diameters conformed to engineering specifications. The crankshaft journals also conformed for roundness, except for the No. 1 and No. 3 crankpin journals, which exceeded the specification tolerance for out-of-round; however, these crankpin journals were undamaged.

The JPI 700 engine monitor was sent to the NTSB Records Laboratory for download. Due to internal buffering of the data before being written to non-volatile memory, the final portion of the flight was not recorded. The data that was captured, was from the time of the master avionics switch was turned and, after engine start when the oil, cylinder head, turbine inlet, and exhaust gas temperatures were just starting to climb during warm-up. Then the data showed the temperatures climbing, representing the take-off, and an initial power reduction, before ending abruptly. 

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was described as blunt injury. The autopsy also identified mild, focally moderate, atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries, with approximately 40% stenosis of the left anterior descending coronary artery, less than 10% stenosis of the right coronary artery, and no significant stenosis of the left circumflex coronary artery. 

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. The toxicology tests detected no carbon monoxide in blood and no cyanide in blood. The test did detect losartan in the liver and blood. Losartan is approved for use by the FAA and is not considered impairing.


WORCESTER - While the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the cause of a fatal Mooney M20M Bravo plane crash at Worcester Regional Airport October 24, there is additional evidence of a communications breakdown between emergency personnel.

According to the Worcester Fire Department incident report obtained by the Telegram & Gazette, a city dispatcher entered in her notes, "MASS PORT PUT THIS INCIDENT OUT AS A DRILL....MEMA CALLED US AT 0818HRS AND WERE NOTF (notified) THAT IT IS NOT A DRILL!!!"

The newspaper had requested the incident report under the state's Public Records Law, but a spokesman for City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. cited the pending National Transportation Safety Board probe of the crash as the reason for a delay in releasing the report. The incident report was not provided to the newspaper by Mr. Augustus' office.

Peter Judge of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said officials at that agency learned that someone at Massport "pushed the wrong button" while sending out an electronic notification about the crash. The faulty notice indicated the event was an "exercise," not an actual emergency. But Mr. Judge said the error was quickly corrected within two minutes and did not affect the emergency response to the crash.

A second anomaly was evident the day of the crash.

In the playback of audio recordings of the controller handling air traffic at the time, the controller repeats three times "can't reach ARFF." ARFF (Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting) is shorthand for security/fire/rescue personnel.

Seconds later, the controller said, "I am on the line with 911," indicating that she called Worcester's Fire Department to respond to the crash scene.

As the NTSB investigates the crash, the reason for the communications breakdown between the tower, ARFF and MEMA has not been released by Massport, if the reason is known.

According to Worcester Fire Department records, city fire personnel reached the crash site off Coppage Drive within six minutes. 

The crash was within sight of the airport runway.

Even though city fire crews had to travel several miles to reach the scene, they got to the crash before the airport ARFF personnel.

A Putnam man died in the crash within sight of Runway 11 and the control tower, about 100 feet outside the airport perimeter fence, but on airport property.

The crash site, although outside the perimeter fence, is on Massport land transferred to the authority by the city in 2010.

A January 2015 Federal Aviation Administration emergency plan filed by Massport is ambiguous about which agency has primary responsibility in such a scenario.

Hours after the October 24 crash, Massport spokesman Matthew Brelis said the Worcester Fire Department has primary responsibility for responding to crashes outside the airport perimeter.

But the January 2015 Federal Aviation Administration emergency plan says the Worcester Fire Department is to provide "support" services "within Worcester and within the airport perimeter fence line" for aircraft rescue and firefighting.

Worcester Fire Department Deputy Chief John F. Sullivan acknowledges the confusion in the emergency plan.

"The January 2015 plan is ambiguous in wording. The Federal Aviation Administration plan is relevant to inside the perimeter. They do not dictate outside the fence. It does not dictate the rules of engagement outside the fence," the deputy chief said.

"Our duties have never changed. It does not matter what they are doing inside the perimeter, we will support. Outside we are going to have primary responsibility," Deputy Chief Sullivan said.

While the emergency airport plan has gone through several iterations, he noted the language should be clarified.

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

Dr. Gary L. Weller

http://registry.faa.gov/N243CW

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA023 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 24, 2015 in Worchester, MA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20M, registration: N243CW
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 October 24, 2015, at 0753 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20M, N243CW, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after taking off from Worchester Regional Airport (ORH), Worchester, Massachusetts. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The airplane was not operating on flight plan for the local personal flight, which was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Airport security cameras captured partial segments of the flight. The airplane took off from runway 11. One camera showed the airplane in flight, climbing over the intersection of runway 15, or about 1,500 feet from the departure end of the 7,000-foot takeoff runway. Using the height of the airplane's tail as a reference, the airplane was about 80 to 90 feet above the runway surface at that point, still climbing in a slight right turn.

The airplane then flew out of view, reappearing about 16 seconds later, headed in the roughly the opposite direction of takeoff. There was no radar coverage of the area, but based on the approximate height of the control tower, the airplane appeared to be about 200 feet above the ground, in a shallow, climbing right turn. The airplane's nose then began descending, and the right turn intensified. The airplane continued the right, almost nose down turn as it descended into a stand of trees.

The accident site was located in flat, wooded terrain in the vicinity of 42 degrees, 15.68 minutes north latitude, 071 degrees, 52.15 minutes west longitude at an elevation of about 975 feet. The wreckage was confined to an area extending about 100 feet. There was no wreckage path, but there was evidence of the airplane coming almost straight down through the trees. There was no evidence of smoke or fire, either in flight or at the accident site.

The three-bladed propeller and spinner were found together, but separated from the main wreckage and mostly buried in the ground. When removed, the spinner exhibited fore-to-aft crushing, and none of the three propeller blades exhibited evidence typical of engine power at impact.

All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. The left wing was found separated from the fuselage about 4 feet from the wing root, while the right wing was mostly still attached. The left horizontal stabilizer was also separated from the airplane, while the right horizontal stabilizer remained attached. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the broken flight surfaces to the cockpit.

The engine had remained attached to the airframe, but was subsequently separated from it and taken to a maintenance garage for further examination. The starter ring did not exhibit any evidence of powered rotation at impact. The crankshaft was rotated by hand at the flange, but could only be rotated a few revolutions before it jammed, and could not be rotated in either direction.

The oil suction screen was removed and found to be contaminated with metal fragments. The accessory case housing was removed, and the No. 5 main bearing was found to be partially extruded out through the crankshaft gear. Holes were also noted in internal portions of the crankcase halves, and the No. 6 connecting rod was observed to be broken.

The engine was subsequently disassembled, and the crankshaft was found to be fractured between the No. 5 and No. 6 cheeks. The camshaft was also broken in the vicinity of the crankshaft fracture, and the interior of the case halves were gouged rotationally, consistent with the damage having occurred awhile the engine was still operating.

The crankshaft, camshaft, connecting rods, and bearings were retained for further laboratory examination.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Windsor Locks FSDO-63

Any witnesses should email witness@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.

Dr. Gary L. Weller
Obituary

Dr. Gary Lee Weller of Putnam Heights, CT, former resident of Greenfield, MA, departed this earth unexpectedly on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, onto his next journey, following an accident while flying his airplane, one of his many passions.

Gary leaves behind his beloved wife, soulmate and best friend, Sharon Weller. His loving mother, Elsie Weller; his sisters, Jana (Tom) Papke, Jean Weller and Lori (Dan) Strickler; his stepdaughters, Haley Trenholm and Calista (Cody) Thompson; grandson, Colgan Thompson, and his many cherished nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind his devoted black labs, Lucy and Desi. Gary will be joining his father Duke, who left us in 2013.

Dr. Weller received his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1979 and began practicing his craft in Michigan. Thereafter, he relocated and established a thriving dental practice in the Boston area. Concurrent with his medical training and career, he rose through the ranks as an FAA certificated pilot and began flying for various airlines including Eastern and U.S. Airways. Upon his retirement from the airlines, he relocated both his home and dental office to Putnam, CT, where, under his leadership and vision, Weller Dental Associates, expanded into one of the most recognized, modern and respected dental practices in the area.

A man of many talents and interests, Gary enjoyed flying most of all. A very accomplished and respected pilot, he never encountered a plane he couldn't fly. Whether it be one of his vintage or antique airplanes, an ultra modern Mooney, or a passenger jet, he was equally at home behind the controls. His airline colleagues dubbed him "the flying dentist," others referred to him as a "pilot's pilot," as well as a teacher and a mentor. His passing leaves a large tear in the fabric of that close knit community.

Gary loved to travel. He and Sharon had many adventures by air to so many wonderful places along with very dear friends. He also owned a BMW motorcycle and would ride frequently with his dearest friend, Bill. The two would take week-long trips over thousands of miles to many interesting places.

An accomplished woodworker, craftsman and journeyman electrician, he possessed an uncanny "MacGyver" like talent to fix almost anything and considered it a personal failure to call in a professional!

He truly was a renaissance man in every sense of the word. He taught himself how to play guitar and enjoyed (in his words) "massacring a song" every now and then and joking with friends and family to "cover their ears" when he picked up his guitar.

A great man with a sharp wit, keen intellect, and a unique sense of humor, Gary made us all laugh. A soft and giving heart, he never said no to a favor or turned away a patient in need. He had the ability to take away pain and make us healthy and whole, and the unwavering ability to make us feel welcomed and special - not just as a healer, but as a son, a husband, a father, a brother and a friend. This is what those that love him can hold on to: his zest for life and his ability to make anyone laugh. Our lives have forever been changed because of him.

Calling hours are planned for Friday, Oct. 30, from 5 to 7 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 31, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a memorial service immediately following at the Gilman Funeral Home, 104 Church St., Putnam, CT. A gathering to share memories and stories of Gary will follow at 3:30 for family, friends and close colleagues at The Putnam Elks.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be considered to the Connecticut Foundation for Dental Outreach, 835 West Queen St. Southington, CT 06489. For memorial guestbook, please visit www.GilmanAndValade.com.


  WORCESTER - Authorities investigating the fatal plane crash near the Worcester Regional Airport Saturday continued to review the wreckage from the incident Sunday as they work to determine what happened.

The pilot of the plane, 66-year-old Dr. Gary Weller of Putnam, Conn., died in the crash Saturday after he took off from Worcester Regional Airport around 8 a.m. The plane, a 1996 Mooney M20M, crashed in the woods near Coppage Drive, not far from the airport.

Weller, the pilot of the single-engine plane, was the only person inside.

Investigators remained at the scene Sunday. The engine from the plane was taken from the area for inspection.

Some of the debris from the crash remained in the woods Sunday. Pieces of the plane were scattered on the ground and some pieces remained in the trees.

Paul Cox, senior air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said authorities are in the beginning stages of the investigation.

"We look at everything. We look at the man, the machine and the environment," he said. "Right now we are looking at the machine."

Cox said a preliminary report will be released in roughly 10 days. A factual report will be released in four to six months and a final report will be completed in about a year.

The Worcester County District Attorney's Office, Massachusetts State Police, Massachusetts Port Authority and the Massachusetts Aeronautics Agency are all involved in the investigation.


Paul Cox, a National Transportation Safety Board senior air safety investigator, speaks at the scene of the fatal plane crash near Worcester Regional Airport (KORH).




Patients are mourning the death of a Putnam dentist who died in a plane crash on Saturday.

Dr. Gary Weller, 66, of Putnam, was flying a single-engine plane from Worcester, Massachusetts when it crashed at about 8 a.m. Saturday and he was killed, according to Worcester District Attorney D. Early Jr.

The Mooney M20M Bravo plane veered to the right and crashed in trees near the airport, diving to one side before hitting the ground, witnesses said. The airport is 30 miles from his home in Putnam.

Weller was the only person aboard the plane. He didn't file a flight plan, so his destination is unknown.

Worcester firefighters and EMS personnel "attempted life-saving measures at the scene," according to the district attorney's office.

The office of the chief medical examiner in Massachusetts will examine the body and determine the cause of death through an autopsy.

Massachusetts state police, State Police Crime Scene Services, State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, Massachusetts Aeronautics, the state Department of Environmental Protection, MassPort and Worcester police are investigating the fatal plane crash.

A former commercial airline pilot, Weller practiced dentistry in Putnam and also in Massachusetts for three decades.

His dental practice is located across from the United Methodist Church in Putnam. Pastor Barbara Kszystyniak said many of her parishioners are also his patients and that many were shocked to hear the news.

"I know that this is going to have an impact on a lot of people in the church this morning and we'll spend some time praying for his family," Kszystyniak said.

Kszystyniak said Weller has been "very gracious" to the church.

"Matter of fact, the signs in his parking lot say parking on weekends for church events," she said.

Upon hearing the news, patient Judith Gehrig, of Woodstock Valley, said its important to live life to the fullest.

“He was very gentle and very kind and that means a lot when you’re not really happy about going to the dentist. I was really shocked to hear what happened," Gehrig said. “In an instant, everything can change, and how precious every minute is that we’re living in. That we should live each one to the fullest.”

William Zamagni, of Putnam, said he "just couldn't believe it" and that Weller was a good friend.

"“Such a nice man. He was a real gentleman. I was devastated when I heard," Zamagni said.

Ed Vonderheide said Weller was "a wonderful man."

“It really shocked me this morning to hear the news, because he’s such a friendly man and a fine dentist, I haven’t met a finer dentist in my whole life," Vonderheide said. “I always felt good about seeing him and I’m shocked. I’m really shocked that he’s gone.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to be at the crash site Sunday to investigate the fatal accident and determine what caused it.



WORCESTER, Mass. — A Putnam dentist has been identified as the victim of a fatal single-engine plane crash Saturday morning in Worcester.

Authorities said pilot Gary Weller was the only person aboard the Mooney M20M Bravo when it took off from Worcester Regional Airport and then crashed into nearby woods.

The aircraft veered to the right after takeoff and crashed into trees on airport property, Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said. Weller didn't file a flight plan, and it was unclear where he had planned to fly the plane, Early said.

Construction worker Dylon DeBoise, who was working near the airport, said the aircraft got only slightly off the ground before crashing.

"It was very low. It looked like it was right above the trees," DeBoise told New England Cable News. "It went up a little bit and then spun over, like almost upside down, and then just went straight down."

There was no fire reported after the crash.

Weller, 66, was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy would be conducted by the state's medical examiner, Early said.

The National Transportation Safety Board will take over the investigation and determine the cause of the crash, he said after viewing the crash site.

According to a biography on his practice’s website, Weller worked as an airline pilot for both Eastern Airlines and US Airways while maintaining a dental practice in Massachusetts before settling in Putnam. He was a native of Grand Rapids, Mich, but had lived in New England for 35 years.

“Although he is retired from the airlines and is completely devoted to dentistry in his Putnam, Connecticut practice, many of his former patients and airline industry friends come to him from out of state for dental care,” the biography said.



WORCESTER (CBS) – A pilot was killed in a small plane crash near the Worcester Airport Saturday morning.

The Mooney M20M Bravo aircraft was taking off just before 8 a.m.when it went off the runway and crashed in the woods off Coppage Drive.

The pilot, Gary Weller, 66, of Putnam, Connecticut, was the only person on board. 

Gary Weller did not file a flight plan so it’s unclear where he was flying, according to the Worcester Country District Attorney’s Office.

First responders were able to pull him from the wreckage of the Mooney M20M Bravo aircraft, but State Police said he died at the scene.

Construction worker Dylon DeBoise, who was working near the airport, said the aircraft went into a nose dive.

“It was very low. It looked like it was right above the trees. Again, it went up a little bit and then spun over, like almost upside down and then just went straight down,” he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

Deboise said the plane did not catch on fire after it crashed.

The airport remained open Saturday.

- Story and photos: http://boston.cbslocal.com





















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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Windsor Locks, Connecticut 
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms
  
http://registry.faa.gov/N243CW

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA023
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 24, 2015 in Worchester, MA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20M, registration: N243CW
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 October 24, 2015, at 0753 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20M, N243CW, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after taking off from Worchester Regional Airport (ORH), Worchester, Massachusetts. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight.

There was no radar coverage of the area. Airport security cameras captured partial segments of the flight and showed that the airplane took off from runway 11. One camera showed the airplane in flight, climbing over the intersection of runway 15 about 1,500 ft from the departure end of the 7,000-ft-long takeoff runway. Using the height of the airplane's tail as a reference, the estimated altitude of the airplane was about 80 to 90 ft above the runway surface at that point, climbing in a slight right turn.

The airplane then flew out of view and reappeared about 16 seconds later headed in the roughly the opposite direction of takeoff. Based on the approximate height of the control tower, the airplane appeared to be about 200 ft above the ground in a shallow, climbing right turn. The airplane's nose then began dropping, and the right bank angle increased. The airplane continued to turn to the right in an increasingly nose-down attitude as it descended into a stand of trees.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION 

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multi-engine land, as well as a flight engineer certificate. He held an FAA third-class medical certificate, issued July 11, 2014. On the application for this medical certificate, the pilot reported a total flight experience of 7,217 hours. The pilot's logbook was not recovered. 

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The four-seat, low-wing airplane was manufactured in 1996. It was powered by a 310-horsepower Lycoming TIO-540 engine and equipped with a three-blade, constant-speed McCauley propeller. 

A review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on April 14, 2015. At that time, the airframe had accumulated 2,872.8 total flight hours. 

The engine logbooks could not be located. According to engine manufacturer data, the engine was manufactured in 1993 and returned once to their facility where it was overhauled in December 2001. According to the manufacturer's records, the engine was placed in service on the accident airplane on March 1, 2002. The investigation could not determine if the engine received a subsequent overhaul at another facility. The manufacturer recommended that the engine be overhauled every 2,000 hours or 12 years, whichever occurred first. 

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1154 recorded weather observation at ORH included wind from 350° at 8 knots, visibility 10 miles, overcast skies at 2,700 ft, temperature 1°C, dew point -3°C, and altimeter 30.39 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located in flat, wooded terrain, and the wreckage was confined to an area extending about 100 ft. There was no wreckage path; the airplane came almost straight down through the trees. There was no evidence of smoke or fire.

The propeller and spinner were found together, separated from the main wreckage, and mostly buried in the ground. The spinner exhibited fore-to-aft crushing, and none of the three propeller blades exhibited evidence typical of engine power at impact.

All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. The left wing was separated from the fuselage about 4 ft from the wing root, and the right wing was mostly still attached. The left horizontal stabilizer was separated from the airplane, and the right horizontal stabilizer remained attached. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the flight control surfaces to the cockpit.

The engine remained attached to the airframe and was subsequently removed and taken to a maintenance garage for further examination. The starter ring did not exhibit any evidence of powered rotation at impact. The crankshaft was rotated by hand at the flange; it rotated a few revolutions before it jammed and could not be rotated in either direction.

The oil suction screen was removed and found to be contaminated with metal fragments. The accessory case housing was removed, and the No. 5 main bearing was found partially extruded out through the crankshaft gear. Holes were also noted in internal portions of the crankcase halves, and the No. 6 connecting rod was broken.

The engine was subsequently disassembled, and the crankshaft was fractured between the No. 5 and No. 6 cheeks. The camshaft was also broken near the crankshaft fracture, and the interiors of the case halves were gouged rotationally, consistent with the damage having occurred while the engine was still operating.

The engine was sent to the manufacturer's materials laboratory for further investigation. According to the manufacturer's report, the metallurgical examination revealed that the crankshaft failed in fatigue, with crack initiation from the rear fillet radius of the No. 5 crankpin journal, followed by stable fatigue crack growth through nearly the entire section thickness of the No. 8 cheek. Fracture surface markings indicated a likelihood of multiple fatigue crack initiation sites. Multiple origins typically indicate high stress conditions; however, the majority of crack growth through the No. 8 cheek occurred under high-cycle fatigue loading, consistent with relatively lower nominal stress conditions. This cracking pattern suggested that overstress conditions of relatively short duration acted to initiate the fatigue cracks. The report stated that the root cause for this overstress was not determined, but it was not related to any material non-conformance. 

The crankshaft conformed to engineering drawing requirements for alloy chemistry, case hardness, case depth, and case and core microstructure. It was slightly below the core hardness specification, but this was not considered relevant for this fracture. Charpy impact test bars cut from the undamaged regions of the No. 8 cheek were free of any honeycomb or microcrack features, indicating the steel had not been exposed to excessively high temperatures during billet forging or crankshaft forging. The crankshaft journal diameters conformed to engineering specifications. The crankshaft journals also conformed for roundness, except for the No. 1 and No. 3 crankpin journals, which exceeded the specification tolerance for out-of-round; however, these crankpin journals were undamaged.

The JPI 700 engine monitor was sent to the NTSB Records Laboratory for download. Due to internal buffering of the data before being written to non-volatile memory, the final portion of the flight was not recorded. The data that was captured, was from the time of the master avionics switch was turned and, after engine start when the oil, cylinder head, turbine inlet, and exhaust gas temperatures were just starting to climb during warm-up. Then the data showed the temperatures climbing, representing the take-off, and an initial power reduction, before ending abruptly. 

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was described as blunt injury. The autopsy also identified mild, focally moderate, atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries, with approximately 40% stenosis of the left anterior descending coronary artery, less than 10% stenosis of the right coronary artery, and no significant stenosis of the left circumflex coronary artery. 

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. The toxicology tests detected no carbon monoxide in blood and no cyanide in blood. The test did detect losartan in the liver and blood. Losartan is approved for use by the FAA and is not considered impairing.

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA023 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 24, 2015 in Worchester, MA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20M, registration: N243CW
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 October 24, 2015, at 0753 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20M, N243CW, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after taking off from Worchester Regional Airport (ORH), Worchester, Massachusetts. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The airplane was not operating on flight plan for the local personal flight, which was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Airport security cameras captured partial segments of the flight. The airplane took off from runway 11. One camera showed the airplane in flight, climbing over the intersection of runway 15, or about 1,500 feet from the departure end of the 7,000-foot takeoff runway. Using the height of the airplane's tail as a reference, the airplane was about 80 to 90 feet above the runway surface at that point, still climbing in a slight right turn.

The airplane then flew out of view, reappearing about 16 seconds later, headed in the roughly the opposite direction of takeoff. There was no radar coverage of the area, but based on the approximate height of the control tower, the airplane appeared to be about 200 feet above the ground, in a shallow, climbing right turn. The airplane's nose then began descending, and the right turn intensified. The airplane continued the right, almost nose down turn as it descended into a stand of trees.

The accident site was located in flat, wooded terrain in the vicinity of 42 degrees, 15.68 minutes north latitude, 071 degrees, 52.15 minutes west longitude at an elevation of about 975 feet. The wreckage was confined to an area extending about 100 feet. There was no wreckage path, but there was evidence of the airplane coming almost straight down through the trees. There was no evidence of smoke or fire, either in flight or at the accident site.

The three-bladed propeller and spinner were found together, but separated from the main wreckage and mostly buried in the ground. When removed, the spinner exhibited fore-to-aft crushing, and none of the three propeller blades exhibited evidence typical of engine power at impact.

All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. The left wing was found separated from the fuselage about 4 feet from the wing root, while the right wing was mostly still attached. The left horizontal stabilizer was also separated from the airplane, while the right horizontal stabilizer remained attached. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the broken flight surfaces to the cockpit.

The engine had remained attached to the airframe, but was subsequently separated from it and taken to a maintenance garage for further examination. The starter ring did not exhibit any evidence of powered rotation at impact. The crankshaft was rotated by hand at the flange, but could only be rotated a few revolutions before it jammed, and could not be rotated in either direction.

The oil suction screen was removed and found to be contaminated with metal fragments. The accessory case housing was removed, and the No. 5 main bearing was found to be partially extruded out through the crankshaft gear. Holes were also noted in internal portions of the crankcase halves, and the No. 6 connecting rod was observed to be broken.

The engine was subsequently disassembled, and the crankshaft was found to be fractured between the No. 5 and No. 6 cheeks. The camshaft was also broken in the vicinity of the crankshaft fracture, and the interior of the case halves were gouged rotationally, consistent with the damage having occurred awhile the engine was still operating.

The crankshaft, camshaft, connecting rods, and bearings were retained for further laboratory examination.









Dr. Gary L. Weller






Paul Cox, a National Transportation Safety Board senior air safety investigator, speaks at the scene of the fatal plane crash near Worcester Regional Airport (KORH).


























WORCESTER - The Massport firefighters union has warned Worcester Fire Chief Geoffrey Gardell that current staffing "circumstances are beyond dangerous" at the Massport-run Worcester Regional Airport.



In an April 1 letter to Chief Gardell, Scott W. Dunlap, the lawyer for Massport Firefighters Local S-2, IAFF, whose members staff the firefighting apparatus at Logan Airport in Boston and the L.G. Hanscom Field in Bedford, advised Chief Gardell, "It now appears that the compliment of dual-role security/fire personnel employed at Worcester Airport is down to eight. Five of these eight employees have less than two years of experience."



He added, "In fact, several shifts in the last thirty days have been staffed with two employees having less than six months of experience."



Massport spokesman Matthew Brelis said Massport was aware that the letter was sent to Chief Gardell. Mr. Brelis emphasized that "Worcester Regional Airport is a very safe airport and it meets or exceeds Federal Aviation Administration requirements Part 139."



He added that, "Massport works to continually improve safety at its facilities. The firefighting staffing levels there now meet or exceed FAA requirements. The equipment exceeds FAA standards."



Mr. Brelis declined to comment further on the union lawyer's letter to Chief Gardell.



Unlike at most airports, firefighters at Worcester Regional Airport have multiple duties, including security roles. A top Massport official suggested in a 2014 memo to Massport CEO Thomas Glynn that that staffing model should be scrapped, in favor of employing firefighters whose role is singularly focused on fire services.



Edward Freni, the Massport aviation director, said in the memo, "One organizational model for safety and security enhances the respective public safety services through consistent staffing levels, training requirements, resulting in enhanced accountability, oversight, and expertise."



The staffing change was adopted at Massport's Hanscom Field after a fatal crash there. That airport is much busier than Worcester. However, no change was made in Worcester staffing roles. If implemented, the Freni recommendation would have made safety operations significantly more expensive at Worcester at a time when the Worcester field has limited commercial service from JetBlue.



Local S-2, Mr. Dunlap said, believes that "should an emergency occur, Massport would be entirely dependent upon the Worcester Fire Department for the primary response."



Although Mr. Dunlap noted the union's thanks for the "professional dedicated firefighters employed by the City of Worcester, and their willingness to assist," the union believes that "Massport has left the City of Worcester in an untenable position."



Meanwhile, still unanswered while a National Transportation Safety Board probe continues into a fatal crash Oct. 24 at Worcester Regional Airport, is why the dual-role firefighters arrived at the crash scene after Worcester firefighters. The city firefighters had to travel several miles to get to the crash scene, which was on airport property but several feet outside the runway perimeter fence. The Worcester Fire Department is responsible for incidents outside the fence.



After the October crash, there was evidence of a communications breakdown between airport personnel. A Worcester Fire Department incident report indicated that Massport personnel reported the crash "as a drill," not an emergency. In addition, the control tower operator repeated that she could not reach the airport firefighters and had called the Worcester Fire Department to respond to the crash in woods off Coppage Drive.



Worcester Fire Deputy Chief John F. Sullivan declined to comment on the Dunlap letter to Chief Gardell. He referred all questions to the office of City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. office. John Hill, spokesman for Mr. Augustus, referred questions to Massport.



Massport's Mr. Brelis on Friday suggested the Massport firefighters union was engaged in a public exercise to represent firefighters at the Worcester Airport.



"It is unfortunate that S-2 is going this route in an effort to win representation of the firefighters at Worcester Regional Airport. Massport does not conduct labor negotiations in the newspaper," Mr. Brelis said.



The union letter to the Worcester fire chief said S-2 "has again renewed its efforts to provide ARFF (Airport Rescue Firefighting) services at Worcester, and anticipates meeting with Massport ... in the near future."



Mr. Dunlap, in his letter to Chief Gardell, said Local S-2 had hoped when Massport purchased the Worcester Airport that its members would staff the airport firefighting service. He added that when JetBlue began daily flights to and from Worcester, Local S-2 expressed concern "about the inadequacy of fire protection/response capabilities."



But in the meantime, Mr. Dunlap advised Chief Gardell, "please be aware and prepared in the event of an emergency, and understand that Local S-2 will make every effort to persuade Massport that full time ARFF personnel are required to provide the safest environment for the travelling public."



Copied on the letter were Arthur Miner, president of Local S-2; John Dwyer, president of Local 1009, Worcester Firefighters IAFF; Mr. Augustus, the city manager; and Worcester Deputy Fire Chiefs Sullivan, Michael LaVoie and Donal Smith.

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