Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cobalt Valkyrie, N523CA, registered to and operated by Cobalt Aircraft Industries Inc: Accident occurred September 05, 2017 at Castle Airport (KMER), Atwater, Merced County, California

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fresno, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Atwater, CA
Accident Number: WPR17LA201
Date & Time: 09/05/2017, 1430 PDT
Registration: N523CA
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Flight Test 

On September 05, 2017, about 1430 Pacific daylight time, a Cobalt Co50 Valkyrie, N523CA, landed hard following an in-flight loss of controllability at the Castle Airport, Atwater, California. Cobalt Aircraft Industries, Inc., was the registered owner and was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The local-area test flight originated from Atwater about 1410. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed.

The airplane, serial number PX-04, was manufactured in October 2016 and registered under an Experimental Research and Development airworthiness certificate. The airplane had undergone four previous flights and the accident flight was the pilot's first flight in a Cobalt aircraft. The purpose of the flight was for the pilot to perform an evaluation of handling qualities at various configurations specified in the test card.

The pilot stated that immediately after rotation, he experienced extreme difficulty controlling the airplane. As the airspeed increased, he began to attain some controllability and climbed to about 1,000 feet above ground level. He determined that the ailerons were ineffective but was able to use the rudder for directional control. The pitch stability was sporadic with him experiencing intermittent pitch up and down movements. After about 20 minutes of manipulating the flight controls and practicing climbing and descending using the trim, he managed to stabilize the airplane around 90 kts. He reasoned that he would be able to land the airplane while configured at an increased airspeed using steady thrust control and the rudder for directional control. During landing, with the airplane about 10 feet above the runway surface, the airplane experienced a loss of lift and landed hard. The impact resulted in the right landing-gear leg separating and the airplane subsequently made a 180-degree; the right-wing spar sustained damage. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N523CA
Model/Series: Co50 VALKYRIE
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMER, 191 ft msl
Observation Time: 1415 PDT
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 18°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots, 340°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.85 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Atwater, CA (MER)
Destination: Atwater, CA (MER) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude:  37.375833, -120.573056 (est)


Anonymous said...

Well, here we go again. A lot of great press and hype about an aircraft that liberates us from our humdrum cessnas, moonies and whatnots.

And then reality, or aerodynamics and phisics brings us down to earth. Nevermind the sleek styling and hand stitched seats, we have another unstable plane. And more evidence tha engine in nose and normal configuration are the prudent way to fly.

One would think the canard approach would be dead by now but here we are again.

Anonymous said...

Cobalt "Recent News" stopped in February 2016 -with CNN aka Fake News;
Cobalt Facebook last posting was back in October 2016;

No updates about the "design-centric, stunningly sleek, modern, as well as super fast, safe and easy to fly", not in any of the aviation magazines, websites nor from the company.

Cobalt = Fail

Anonymous said...

Very impressed with pilot's ability to immediately "teach" himself previously unfamiliar flight control paradigm. Amazing skill set. Congratulations to him! What airline does he fly for?

Re: the problem??? What did the analysis reveal about he cause of aileron failure... wiring or pulley failure interfering with pushrod/bellcrank/control cable function??

Would be interesting to know what about the take-off run and rotation resulted in aileron/stick disconnect... hard to imagine this behavior getting by even a cursory preflight inspection.

Love the plane and the specs. Hope the problem was obvious, fixed, and the effort to bring this plane to life is back on track.

Lack of PR suggests the contrary. If they are still working to make this happen they should communicate with full disclosure what is happening. Only way to achieve confidence and validity for the revolutionary product.

Good luck to Cobalt!