Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cessna 182A Skylane, N2230G: Fatal accident occurred March 13, 2016 near Alpine Airport (46U), Lincoln County, Wyoming

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

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA084
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 13, 2016 in Alpine, WY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/06/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA 182A, registration: N2230G
Injuries: 4 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 noninstrument-rated, private pilot and three passengers were departing in dark night conditions with the moon below the horizon. The area along the flight route was unpopulated with few lights in the immediate vicinity. A handheld GPS unit found in the wreckage revealed that, shortly after becoming airborne, the airplane made a climbing 360° turn from about 20 to 425 ft above ground level (agl). The airplane then maintained a heading toward the destination for about 30 seconds, never climbing above about 550 ft agl. During the last seconds of the flight, the airplane made a descending right turn likely because the pilot experienced a loss of visual reference due to the dark night conditions. Ground scar analysis, impact signatures, and wreckage fragmentation patterns indicated that the airplane impacted terrain in a nose-low attitude, consistent with the airplane stalling before impact. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of a mechanical malfunction or failure that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The noninstrument-rated pilot's failure to maintain airspeed during the initial climb in dark night conditions with no visual reference, which resulted in a stall and collision with terrain.



Heidi and Thomas “Brook” Summers

Jessica and David Anderson


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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Teledyne Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama

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/N2230G



NTSB Identification: WPR16FA084
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 13, 2016 in Alpine, WY
Aircraft: CESSNA 182A, registration: N2230G
Injuries: 4 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 March 13, 2016, at 0227 mountain standard time, a Cessna 182A airplane, N2230G, collided with terrain shortly after departing from Alpine Airport, Alpine, Wyoming. The private pilot and three passengers sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal cross-country flight. The flight was departing from Alpine with an assumed destination of Rigby Airport, Rigby, Idaho. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the departure airport about the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed.

A resident, who lived on the east side of the runway at Alpine Airport, stated that he heard the airplane land on March 12 about 1930 and heard the airplane depart about 0230 the next day. He stated that the departure sounded normal but without the typical "slow fade away of the prop noise." The noise had just suddenly stopped, which he thought was unusual enough that he looked out the window and only observed some stars with a few clouds.

According to a saloon employee, the pilot and passengers had visited Alpine on numerous occasions, where they would usually have dinner at the Bull Moose Saloon; it is unknown how many flights they had conducted to Alpine previously, but they had driven there many times. She recalled that they arrived about 2000 and left about 0200. She stated that they were in a good mood the entire time and did not notice any anomalies. She stated that the pilot did not drink alcohol while he was at the tavern.

A Garmin GPSMAP 396, battery-powered portable GPS receiver was located in the wreckage. The unit included a built-in Jeppesen database and was capable of receiving XM satellite radio for flight information. The unit stored date, route-of-flight, and flight-time information; all recorded data were stored in nonvolatile memory.

Recorded data plots were recovered for the timeframe that matched the airplane's anticipated flight track after departing from Alpine. The track indicated that the airplane departed from runway 31 at 0224:35. After becoming airborne, the airplane continued over the runway until reaching the departure end, where it made a climbing 360° left turn from about 5,650 to 6,075 ft mean sea level (msl or about 20 to 425 ft above ground level [agl], respectively). The airplane maintained a northwest heading for about 30 seconds, never climbing above 6,200 ft msl (550 ft agl).

The last four data points of the flight track occurred over 7 seconds from 0226:33 to 0226:40. During that time, the speed increased from 71 to 104 knots, and the altitude decreased about 350 ft while entering a descending right turn (the direction of travel changed from 300° true to 32° true). The last recorded point was timestamped 0226:40 and showed the airplane about 500 ft southwest of the accident site at 5,859 ft msl with a groundspeed of 104 knots.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land rating. His third-class medical certificate was issued on April 12, 2012, with no limitations. The pilot's personal flight records were not recovered.

The airplane's owner stated that the pilot had recently obtained his pilot's license and started borrowing the airplane about 2 months before the accident. The pilot was checked out in the airplane by a flight instructor and was free to use it as he pleased. The pilot sent the owner a text at 1912 on the night of the accident stating that he was going to take the airplane flying.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

The airplane, serial number 51530, was manufactured in 1958. It was equipped with a Continental Motors O-470-L engine, serial number 68518-8-L. A review of the airplane's maintenance logbooks revealed that the airframe's last annual inspection occurred on December 03, 2015, at a total time of about 2,505.6 hours, at which time the engine underwent its last 100-hour inspection, at a tachometer time of 1,393.6 hours.

According to the airport manager, the airplane was not refueled in Alpine. The airplane owner estimated that, at the time of the accident, the airplane would have had about 48 gallons of fuel. The amount of fuel in each wing tank could not be determined.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A METAR generated by an Automated Surface Observation System at the airport indicated that, about the time of the accident, the conditions were as follows: wind was from 060° at 4 knots, temperature 6°F, dew point -1°F, and altimeter setting 29.87 inches of mercury.

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, on the morning of the accident, the sun rose at 0739. At the time of the accident, the moon was about 28° below the northwestern horizon; the phase of the moon was waxing crescent with 25% of the moon's visible disk illuminated.




WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located on hard snow-and-gravel terrain along the shoreline of the Palisades Reservoir, located about 1 mile northwest of the runway. The entire wreckage sustained thermal damage, and the cockpit was consumed by fire. The debris field stretched from west to east and was about 50 yards long and 35 yards wide. At the beginning of the debris field, the propeller was found embedded in a crater about 3 ft deep and 8 ft wide.

The destination airport in Rigby, Idaho (elevation 4,845 ft msl), was about 47 nautical miles (nm) from Alpine Airport (elevation 5,630 ft msl) on a bearing of about 310°. A valley extended between the two airports with peaks on either side reaching up to 8,000 ft msl. The surrounding area was unpopulated with few lights in the immediate vicinity. The flight data indicated that the airplane had flown between the airports on prior occasions; however, it could not be determined if the pilot flew those trips.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Following recovery, the wreckage was examined at a facility in Greeley, Colorado. The wreckage was partially consumed by fire. The intensity of the thermal damage in the cockpit area prohibited investigators from being able to establish complete flight control continuity.

An external examination of the engine revealed that all cylinders were secured to the crankcase. Both the exhaust and induction systems sustained impact damage. The carburetor had separated, and only a portion of the bowl remained attached to the mixture cable in the lower cowling wreckage. The carburetor throttle plate and control arm remained attached to the damaged throttle cable. The throttle control arm remained attached to the carburetor base and throttle plate shaft.

Removal of the top spark plugs revealed that the No. 3 plug was covered in mud. According to the Continental Motor's Group representative, the remaining spark plugs revealed evidence of normal wear conditions and combustion deposits. Engine internal continuity was confirmed by manually rotating the engine. The pistons moved normally inside the cylinders. The rear accessory gears rotated normally. Thumb compression could not be achieved due to impact damage. The combustion chambers remained mechanically undamaged, and there was no evidence of foreign object ingestion (preimpact) or detonation. The valves were intact and undamaged. No evidence of valve-to-piston face contact was observed.

The engine oil sump was crushed upward against the internal engine components. The engine oil pump remained attached. The oil screen was removed and inspected, and no abnormal contaminants were found on the oil screen. The oil cooler had separated but was recovered.
Both the right and left magnetos had separated from their mounts but remained attached to the ignition harness. Both magnetos exhibited thermal damage. The magnetos could not be functionally tested due to thermal damage. Both magnetos were partially disassembled to examine the internal components, and all components were thermally damaged.

The propeller had separated from the engine crankshaft. Both propeller blades remained attached to the hub but were loose in the hub housing. Both blades exhibited chordwise scratching and gouging with deep gouging along the leading edge of one of them. Both propeller blades were bent rearward and thermally damaged.

There was no evidence of mechanical malfunction or failure with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. A complete examination report is contained in the public docket for this accident.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Lincoln County Coroner's Office stated that it was unable to conduct an autopsy of the pilot due to the thermal damage.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory performed toxicological tests on specimens from the pilot. According to the toxicological report, the results were negative for ethanol (alcohol) and other tested drugs.

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA084
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 13, 2016 in Alpine, WY
Aircraft: CESSNA 182A, registration: N2230G
Injuries: 4 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 March 13, 2016, about 0230 mountain standard time, a Cessna 182A, N2230G, collided with terrain shortly after departing from Alpine Airport, Alpine, Wyoming. The airplane was registered and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and three passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The personal cross-country flight was departing from Alpine with an assumed destination of Rigby Airport, Rigby, Idaho. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed.

A resident at the Alpine Airport stated that he heard the airplane land on March 12 about 1930. The pilot and passengers then went to a local restaurant for the night. The resident heard them depart about 0230 on March 13. The departure sounded normal but he could not discern the slow fading of noise of a takeoff that he could normally hear during a departure due to the orientation of the mountains.

The airplane wreckage was located about 1.5 mile north-northwest of the runway and was consumed by fire. The wreckage was recovered for further examination.

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