Sunday, June 4, 2017

Rockwell 114 Commander, N4775W, Fuzz Aviation LLC: Fatal accident occurred May 17, 2015 near Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport (KIFP), Bullhead City, Arizona

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;  Las Vegas, Nevada
Lycoming Engines; Mesa, Arizona 

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

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

Fuzz Aviation LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N4775W

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA163 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, May 17, 2015 in Laughlin, NV
Aircraft: ROCKWELL COMMANDER 114, registration: N4775W
Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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 May 17, 2015, about 1800 Pacific daylight time, a Rockwell Commander 114B airplane, N4775W, crashed shortly after takeoff near Laughlin, Nevada. The private pilot/owner sustained serious injuries, and the three passengers sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. The pilot was operating the airplane as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the accident site about the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight departed Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport (IFP), Bullhead City, Arizona, at 1756, destined for Goodyear, Arizona.

According to the pilot, he conducted an engine test run with no anomalies noted. At 1756, the tower controller cleared the flight for a straight-out departure to the south. During the climb to between about 300 and 400 ft above the ground, the engine started running roughly, and the airplane was not accelerating or climbing. The terrain ahead was rising, so the pilot turned right. Due to the low altitude and power, the pilot chose to conduct an off-airport landing, during which he attempted to troubleshoot the engine issue without success. As the airplane continued to descend, the pilot saw houses and bushes ahead; he aimed the airplane away from the houses, and the airplane eventually hit trees and terrain. A postimpact engine fire ensued.

Several witnesses near the accident site reported seeing the airplane flying at a very low altitude. One witness reported seeing it descend into trees followed by a fireball. Another witness reported seeing the airplane flying on a southbound track with its wings level and then descending out of his sight; he then saw an explosion followed by a fireball.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. The pilot was issued a Federal Aviation Administration third-class medical certificate on December 18, 2014, with the limitations that he must wear corrective lenses/glasses for distant vision and possess glasses for near vision.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The four-seat airplane, serial number 14105, was equipped with a Lycoming IO-540-T4A5D engine, serial number L-15117-48A. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed that its last annual inspection was completed on October 28, 2014, at a total airframe time of 3,436.5 hours. A review of the airplane's maintenance records revealed a total time since engine overhaul of 1,148.8 hours.

The maintenance records showed that, on May 11, 1995, A McCauley 3-bladed propeller and a Woodward Governor were installed in accordance with STC No. SA4444NM. The original propeller installed on the Rockwell 114 was a 2-bladed Hartzell propeller model HC-C2YR-1BF. 

The maintenance records also showed that, on April 18, 2002, an aftermarket turbo normalization system was installed on the engine under Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) Number SE00357DE. At that time, the total airframe time was 2,758.0 hours, and the time since engine overhaul was 480.3 hours. The STC's instructions for continued airworthiness required that the turbo normalization system be inspected every 100 hours.

On December 9, 2009, the turbo normalization system was removed, inspected, and reinstalled. The logbook entry noted that casting voids were found on the exhaust side of the turbocharger. The entry also noted that photographs had been provided to the turbocharger manufacturer for evaluation and that the manufacturer had deemed it airworthy. The engine logbooks contained no other entries indicating that the turbo normalization system was inspected in the 6 years before the accident.

IFP fueling records indicated that the airplane was last fueled on May 17, 2015, with 20.0 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane crashed in Big Bend State Park. The main wreckage was located 4.6 nautical miles southwest of IFP. The airplane initially hit a mesquite tree, then impacted sand, and finally came to rest 120 ft south of the first impact point on a magnetic heading of 273°. The postimpact fire consumed most of the airplane.

Flight control continuity was established with all the flight control surfaces. The structure of all of the flight control surfaces and their corresponding counterweights were found in their correct positions. The landing gear were found in the retracted position. All of the cockpit components and instrumentation were consumed by fire.

The main wing assembly sustained thermal damage consistent with a fuel-fed fire. All of the wing components were found in their respective locations. Both flap assemblies were consumed by fire and found near the attachment point to the wing structure. The right wing was found up against the right side of the fuselage and was consumed by fire.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The wreckage was transported to Air Transport, Phoenix, Arizona, for further examination. 

No abnormalities were noted with the airframe that would have precluded normal operation.

The engine was removed and disassembled. The propeller hub remained attached to the engine. The three propeller blades were present and exhibited thermal damage. The turbocharger, magnetos, and oil filter remained attached to the engine. All the other engine components were attached at their respective positions and exhibited thermal damage.

The turbocharger was found to be seized, it was disassembled, and examination of the turbowheel revealed that the blades were eroded. The overall diameter of the turbowheel was 2.451 inches. According to the manufacturer, a new turbowheel diameter is about 2.5 inches. It was also noted that the turbine impeller was significantly eroded and the heat shield was eroded which would allow hot gases to enter the bearing area and coke up the shaft.

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA163
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, May 17, 2015 in Laughlin, NV
Aircraft: ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL 114, registration: N4775W
Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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 May 17, 2015, about 1800 Pacific daylight time (PDT), a Rockwell Commander 114, N4775W, crashed after takeoff near Laughlin, Nevada. The owner/pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot sustained serious injuries, and three passengers were fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and post-crash fire. The cross-country personal flight departed Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport (IFP), Bullhead City, Arizona, at 1756, with a planned destination of Goodyear, Arizona. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

At 1756 PDT, ATC cleared N4775W for a straight out departure to the south. In a post-accident interview the pilot stated that shortly after takeoff the engine started to run rough and the airplane was not climbing. The pilot realized he was going to make an off airport landing and was trying to stay away from any buildings.

Witnesses in the accident area noted the airplane flying at a very low altitude with some reporting the engine sounds being erratic. Witnesses saw the airplane continue to fly lower in altitude until losing sight of it. They then saw a fireball.

The accident site was located in the Big Bend State Park Recreational Area. The main wreckage was located 4.6 NM southwest of IFP. The airplane first hit a mesquite tree, then impacted the sand, and finally came to rest 120 feet south of the first impact point facing 273 degrees. The post impact fire thermally consumed a majority of the aircraft.

The accident site was documented, and the wreckage was recovered for further examination.

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