Monday, July 24, 2017

Piper PA-22-135 Tri-Pacer, N1348C: Fatal accident occurred June 01, 2015 near Livermore Municipal Airport (KLVK), Alameda County, California



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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California
Piper Aircraft Inc; Vero Beach, Florida
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

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

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

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N1348C 

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA174
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 01, 2015 in Livermore, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/20/2017
Aircraft: PIPER PA 22-135, registration: N1348C
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 departed on a local night flight. Shortly after takeoff, he reported a control difficulty to air traffic control tower personnel; he stated that he was going to make a circle, and troubleshoot the issue. There were no further transmissions from the pilot. A witness about 1/2 mile away from the airport said that the airplane caught his attention when he heard the engine cut out. He looked up, but couldn't see the airplane as it was dusk. He finally saw two outboard lights, one on each wing, and realized that the airplane was in a nose dive. According to the witness, it was not spinning, and the engine sounded like it was at full throttle. Radar data indicated that the airplane departed about on runway heading, and about 2 minutes into the flight it began a 180° turn. The airplane lost about 1,100 ft of altitude in 18 seconds during the turn. The radar track continued in a straight line until ground impact. Postaccident examination revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airframe or engine or would have caused a control difficulty.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A loss of control for reasons that could not be determined, because examination of the airframe and engine revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.




HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 1, 2015, about 2058 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA22-135, N1348C, collided with terrain while maneuvering near Livermore Municipal Airport, Livermore, California. The airline transport pilot sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The local personal flight departed Livermore at 2052. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

Shortly after takeoff, the pilot reported a control difficulty to air traffic control tower personnel; he stated that he was going to make a circle, and troubleshoot the issue. There were no further transmissions from the pilot.

A witness about 1/2 mile away from the airport said that the airplane caught his attention when he heard the engine "cut out." He looked up, but couldn't see the airplane as it was dusk. He then heard the engine "revving to a higher rpm like a crop duster swooping down." He heard the engine sputter twice, and then increase rpm again. He finally saw two outboard lights, one on each wing, and realized that the airplane was in a nose dive. According to the witness, it was not spinning, and the engine sounded like it was at full throttle.

A plot of recorded radar data indicated that the airplane climbed about on the runway heading to a maximum mode C reported altitude of 3,100 ft mean sea level. About 2 minutes into the flight, the airplane made a 180° left turn, and lost 1,100 ft of altitude in 18 seconds. The radar track continued in a straight line until it ended; the total duration of the flight was 2 minutes 48 seconds.

PILOT INFORMATION

The last flight recorded in the pilot's notebook was on February 6, 2015. The pages from the previous 2 years totaled over 49 hours with none listed in the accident make and model.




WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector examined the wreckage on site on June 2, 2015.

The first identified point of ground contact was a series of ground scars consistent with the left and right main landing gear, gear legs, engine, cowling, left and right wing lift struts, and wings. A propeller blade had separated about 6 inches from the hub along an angular plane. The rest of the propeller was in the principal impact crater; it was not charred. The main wreckage was burned, and was in the middle of a charred area. All of the airplane's fabric covering was consumed by fire.

The debris path was about 108 ft long, and oriented on a 318° magnetic heading. All major structural components of the airplane were located at the accident site.

Further examination of an aileron cable distortion by the NTSB Office of Research and Engineering Materials Laboratory determined that the cable distortion was a result of overload conditions. The postaccident examination of the airplane did not reveal any mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Alameda County Coroner completed an autopsy on the pilot, and determined that the cause of death was blunt force trauma. The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot, which were negative for volatiles and tested drugs. The laboratory did not perform tests for carbon monoxide or cyanide.

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