Friday, May 19, 2017

Toevs Titanium Explorer, N556XT: Fatal accident occurred July 15, 2016 in Whitewater, Butler County, Kansas

James Lee "Farmer Jim" Toevs
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The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Wichita, Kansas 

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/N556XT



NTSB Identification: CEN16LA266
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 15, 2016 in Whitewater, KS
Aircraft: Toevs Titanium Explorer, registration: N556XT
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

"The following is an INTERIM FACTUAL SUMMARY of this accident investigation. A final report that includes all pertinent facts, conditions, and circumstances of the accident will be issued upon completion, along with the Safety Board's analysis and probable cause of the accident:"

On July 15, 2016, about 1900 central daylight time, an amateur-built Toevs Titanium Explorer rotorcraft gyroplane, N556XT, was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain near Whitewater, Kansas. A post impact fire ensued. The sport pilot was fatally injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight that originated from Newton City/County Airport (EWK), Newton, Kansas, about 1830.

According to a witnesses interviewed by the Kansas Highway Patrol and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the gyroplane started a turn, the nose pitched up, and then it descended and impacted the ground. At least one witness described hearing engine noise.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 61, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating and a sport pilot certificate with a rotorcraft gyroplane rating. He was issued his gyroplane rating, in the accident gyroplane, on June 17, 2016. He also held a repairman certificate with an "inspection light sport – rotorcraft gyroplane…" rating issued on August 24, 2011.

The pilot's most recent third class airman medical certificate was issued on November 5, 2012, without limitations. At that time, the pilot reported no chronic medical conditions and no medications. The pilot reported 110 hours total flight time on his application.

Copies of the pilot's "Pilot Flight Record and Log Book" and "Ultralight/Recreational Sport Pilot Log Book" were provided for review. The Pilot Flight Record contained entries dated between January 20, 1973, and April 14, 1976. Logbook entries illustrated about 80 hours of flight time and experience in the Aeronca Champ 7AC and Cessna 150, 172, and 177. The Ultralight/Recreational logbook contained entries dated between November 20, 2010, and July 14, 2016. Logbook entries illustrated about 54 hours of flight time and experience in a "gyroglider" and the Titan Explorer.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

According to FAA records, the 2015 rotorcraft gyroplane, a Toevs Titanium Explorer (serial number TX007) had been manufactured by the pilot and his wife. It was registered with the FAA on an special airworthiness certificate for experimental operations. A 100-horsepower Rotax 914UL engine powered the gyroplane. The engine was equipped with a 2-blade, Bolly Optima composite propeller.

The gyroplane was registered to and operated by the pilot, and was maintained under a condition inspection program. A review of the maintenance records indicated that a condition inspection had been completed on May 31, 2016, at an airframe total time of 175.8 hours. The gyroplane had accumulated about 217 hours total time. The aircraft was flown about 40 hours since the condition inspection.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The closest official weather observation station was Newton City/County Airport (EWK), Newton, Kansas, located about 10 nautical miles northwest of the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 1,533 feet msl. The routine aviation weather report (METAR) for EWK issued at 1856, reported, wind 090° degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky condition, scattered clouds at 4,700 ft, broken clouds at 5,500 ft, temperature 28° Celsius (C), dew point temperature 20° C, altimeter 30.01 inches.



WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

An inspector from the FAA responded to the accident scene. The accident site was located in a vegetated field. The accident site was at an elevation of 1,385 ft msl. The gyroplane came to rest in a nose low attitude, on its left side. It was charred, melted, and partially consumed by fire. Several larger components separated during the impact and were located within a radius of 50 to 60 feet surrounding the main wreckage and impact point.

The fuselage, engine, main rotor, and empennage were all accounted for at the accident site. The cockpit instrumentation had separated from their cockpit locations, and did not convey reliable readings. Some were impact and fire damaged.

The wreckage was examined further, by an investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board, in a barn after it was removed from the accident site.

The rudder control cable was continuous from the aft pulley forward to the rear seat rudder pedals. Pushpull tubes were continuous from the aft pedals forward. Both tubes separated at the forward pedals. Signatures were consistent with impact damage and overload separation.

The instrument panels were impact and fire damaged. The gauges provided no reliable readings. The empennage was impact damaged and the rudder had separated from the vertical stabilizer. The fuselage was impact and fire damaged and fragmented into multiple pieces.

The main rotor consisted of two blades - the yellow spot blade and the non-spot blade. The yellow spot blade was broken into multiple pieces along the span consistent with impact damage. The outboard portion of the blade exhibited exposure to heat and fire. The non-spot blade was broken into two pieces. The outboard portion was the portion previously imbedded in the ground. The inboard portion of the hub was fire damaged.

The propeller and hub exhibited impact and separation damage at all three blade hubs. The propeller blades were charred, melted, and partially consumed by fire. The engine exhibited impact damage and exposure to heat and fire. No anomalies were noted that would have precluded normal operations.

The flight control tubes were continuous from the control stick aft to the mast and keel. The control tubes were continuous up to the control rod scissor arms. The two control arms between the scissor arms and mast head were separated with signatures consistent with impact damage and overload separation. No anomalies were noted that would have precluded normal operations.

The scope of the examination was limited by fragmentation due to impact damage and heat due to the post impact fire; however, no anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction were observed.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Regional Forensic Science Center – Sedgwick County, Kansas, performed the autopsy on the pilot on July 16, 2016. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was "multiple blunt force injuries… include[ing] thermal injuries" and the report listed the specific injuries.

The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological tests on specimens that were collected during the autopsy. Carbon monoxide and cyanide tests were not performed. Tests were negative for ethanol. Amlodipine and norfluoxetine were detected in the blood and kidney. Tests detected 0.019 ug/mL dihydrocodeine in the lung and 0.009 ug/mL in the cavity blood; 3.598 ug/mL Fluoxetine in the kidney and 0.313 ug/mL in the cavity blood; 0.138 ug/mL hydrocodone in the lungs and 0.04 ug/mL in the cavity blood.

Dihydrocodeine is a metabolite of hydrocodone and norfluoxetine is a metabolite of fluoxetine. Amlodipine is used to treat high blood pressure and is acceptable for use by pilots. Fluoxetine is used to treat a multitude of mood disorders and can be approved for use by pilots through a special issuance medical certificate. Hydrocodone is use for severe pain management.



NTSB Identification: CEN16LA266
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 15, 2016 in Whitewater, KS
Aircraft: Toevs Titanium Explorer, registration: N556XT
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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 15, 2016, about 1900 central daylight time, an amateur-built Toevs Titanium Explorer autogyro, N556XT, was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain near Whitewater, Kansas. A post impact fire ensued. The private pilot was fatally injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight which originated from Newton City/County Airport (EWK), Newton, Kansas, about 1800.

According to witnesses interviewed by the Kansas Highway Patrol, the autogyro started a turn, the nose pitched up, and then it descended and impacted trees. At least one witness described hearing engine noise. The autogyro impacted the ground and was destroyed by the post impact fire.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration inspector who traveled to the accident site, the autogyro impacted the ground in a nose low attitude.

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