Sunday, October 22, 2017

Storm, N516VB, registered to Lake Hoppers Air Adventures Inc and operated by the pilot: Accident occurred August 20, 2016 in Eustis, Lake County, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 


The commercial pilot reported that he was conducting a local flight in the weight-shift-control aircraft when the engine lost total power. He added that he landed the aircraft in a field and determined that the main battery was "completely dead," so he obtained another battery and installed it on the aircraft. He test ran the engine before takeoff, and it performed satisfactorily. During the subsequent takeoff in high grass, the aircraft did not accelerate as expected, and the engine began to lose power. The pilot aborted the takeoff and applied the wheel brakes. The brakes locked, and he lost directional control. The aircraft then impacted a fence and a house before coming to rest on its left side.

The pilot reported that the alternator on the automotive engine, which had an electronic ignition, was likely not charging and that this resulted in the battery becoming depleted and the subsequent loss of engine power. He also reported that he did not account for the effect of the high grass on the airplane's performance and should have aborted the takeoff sooner. 

Probable Cause and Findings
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: 

The pilot's failure to maintain directional control during an aborted takeoff. Contributing to the accident were the loss of engine power due to a malfunctioning alternator, which precipitated the off-field landing, and the pilot's decision to attempt to take off from an area with high grass, which precipitated the loss of directional control. 


Directional control - Not attained/maintained (Cause)
AC generator-alternator - Malfunction (Factor)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Factor)

Environmental issues
Object/animal/substance - Contributed to outcome

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Lake Hoppers Air Adventures Inc:

NTSB Identification: ERA16LA305
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 20, 2016 in Eustis, FL
Aircraft: DAYTON A BABCOCK STORM, registration: N516VB
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.
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 August 20, 2016, about 0930 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Storm, N516VB, was substantially damaged while attempting to depart from a grass field in Eustis, Florida. The airline transport pilot was not injured. The weight-shift-control aircraft was registered to Lake Hoppers Air Adventures, Inc. and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from Mid Florida Air Service Airport (X55), Eustis, about 0915.

The pilot reported that he was en route to Tavares, Florida, when he noted a red indicator light on his instrument panel, and a loss of engine power. Approximately 12 gallons of fuel were on board. He landed the aircraft in a field uneventfully and called friends for assistance. The aircraft battery was found to be "completely dead," so he obtained a new battery, installed it, and test ran the engine. He ran the engine again prior to takeoff and found it to perform "satisfactory." He commenced the takeoff from the grass field and noticed that the aircraft was not accelerating as expected. He later reported that the grass was tall, possibly hindering acceleration. The engine subsequently began to lose power. He rejected the takeoff and applied the wheel brakes. The brakes locked up and the airplane skidded toward a fence. The aircraft collided with the fence and a house and came to rest on its left side. The pilot reported the aircraft damage as substantial; the front fork collapsed and the wing spar was broken. He reported that he did not consider the effect of the tall grass on performance and could have aborted the takeoff more quickly.

The pilot later stated, in retrospect, he was convinced that, "…the component that failed was the alternator that was not charging, hence the loss of engine power when the voltage ran low." The aircraft was equipped with a Suzuki G13B automotive engine. The engine utilized electronic fuel injection and ignition. He stated that the engine was overhauled about 45 hours prior to the accident.

The pilot held airline transport, commercial, and sport pilot certificates with ratings for airplane multiengine land, airplane single engine land, airplane single engine sea, and glider. He reported 17,000 hours of total flight time, including 350 hours in the accident aircraft type.

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