Thursday, December 28, 2017

Just Aircraft Highlander, N376CG, G-DAWG LLC: Accident occurred March 31, 2015 at Just Aircraft facility - private airfield near Walhalla, South Carolina

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; West Columbia, South Carolina 

Aviation Accident Final 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/N376CG


Location: Walhalla, SC
Accident Number: ERA15LA174
Date & Time: 03/31/2015, 1435 EDT
Registration: N376CG
Aircraft: G-DAWG LLC JUST ACFT HIGHLANDER
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Business 

Analysis 

The private pilot was demonstrating the experimental, light sport airplane to a potential buyer. The wind was calm when they departed, but gusty when they returned about 30 minutes later. Due to the runway's sloping terrain, all takeoffs were performed in one direction and all landings in the opposite direction. The pilot estimated that a 20-mph tailwind prevailed during final approach, gusting to between 25 and 30 mph. The airplane approached the runway too fast, and the pilot conducted a go-around. He increased the engine power to full, and the airplane began to climb, but as it approached trees at the end of the runway, it encountered a wind gust and stopped climbing. The airplane then impacted a treetop, descended, and impacted the ground.

Examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation nor did the pilot report any anomalies. The recorded wind about the time of the accident at an airport located 10 miles east of the accident site indicated that a 12-knot tailwind, gusting to 21 knots, existed. 

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 airplane control during a go-around in gusting tailwind conditions, which resulted in a collision with trees.

Findings

Aircraft
Climb rate - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Tailwind - Effect on operation (Cause)
Gusts - Effect on operation (Cause)


Factual Information

On March 31, 2015, about 1435 eastern daylight time, an experimental light sport Just Aircraft Highlander, N376CG, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain at a private airfield near Walhalla, South Carolina. The private pilot and passenger were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The local business flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part
91.

The pilot was demonstrating the airplane to a potential buyer. The pilot reported that the wind was calm when they departed, but gusty when they returned about 30 minutes later. He estimated the wind as a 20-mph tailwind during final approach, gusting to a 25 to 30-mph tailwind. The airplane approached too fast and the pilot performed a go-around. He increased the engine power to full power and the airplane began to climb, but as it approached trees at the end of the runway, "a big tailwind gust" caused the airplane to cease climbing. The airplane collided with the top of the tree, descended, and impacted the ground. The pilot did not report any preimpact mechanical malfunctions.

According to a witness, the accident flight was one of several flights performed to demonstrate the performance characteristics of the airplane to a potential buyer and his friend. The witness indicated that during the accident flight, the airplane was landing toward the east with a tailwind, and travelling faster than normal as it approached the runway. As the airplane descended toward the runway surface, the witness observed an increase in engine power, and the airplane subsequently "ballooned." Shortly thereafter the pilot "added full power" and the airplane began to climb and flew over a two-story building located about 100 ft east of the runway, along its extended centerline. The airplane then struck trees adjacent to the north side of the building before it impacted the ground in a wooded ravine. The witness added that the turf runway was 400 to 500 ft in length, oriented east-west. Due to sloping terrain, all landings are performed to the east and all takeoffs performed to the west.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for single-engine land, airplane single-engine sea, and instrument airplane. The pilot reported a total flight experience of 6,672 hours; of which about 46 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane. All 46 hours were flown during the 90-day period preceding the accident.

Oconee County Regional Airport (CEU), Clemson, South Carolina was located about 10 miles east of the accident site. The recorded weather at CEU, at 1454, was: wind from 260° at 12 knots, gusting to 21 knots; visibility 10 miles; sky clear; temperature 26° C; dew point 2° C; altimeter 29.92 inches of mercury. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 61, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 01/22/2015
Flight Time: 6672 hours (Total, all aircraft), 46 hours (Total, this make and model), 6600 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 60 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 28 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: G-DAWG LLC
Registration: N376CG
Model/Series: JUST ACFT HIGHLANDER
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental Light Sport
Serial Number: JAESC0141
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1320 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2568 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Rotax
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: 914
Registered Owner: G-DAWG LLC
Rated Power: 115 hp
Operator: G-DAWG LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 



Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCEU, 891 ft msl
Observation Time: 1454 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 111°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C / 2°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility 10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 12 knots/ 21 knots, 260°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV): 
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Walhalla, SC (PVT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Walhalla, SC (PVT)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1400 EDT
Type of Airspace: 

Airport Information

Airport: Just Aircraft Facility (PVT)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 900 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 090
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 450 ft / 60 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Go Around 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 34.732500, -83.078611 (est)




NTSB Identification: ERA15LA174
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 31, 2015 in Walhalla, SC
Aircraft: G-DAWG LLC JUST ACFT HIGHLANDER, registration: N376CG
Injuries: 2 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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 31, 2015, about 1435 eastern daylight time, an experimental Light Sport Just Aircraft Highlander, N376CG, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain at a private airfield near Walhalla, South Carolina. The private pilot and passenger were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The local business flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to a witness, the accident flight was one of several flights performed to demonstrate the performance characteristics of the airplane to a potential buyer and his friend. The witness indicated that on the accident flight, the airplane was landing toward the east with a tailwind, and travelling faster than normal as it approached the runway. As the airplane descended toward the runway surface, the witness observed an increase in engine power, and the airplane subsequently "ballooned". Shortly thereafter the pilot "added full power" and the airplane began to climb and flew over a 2-story building located about 100 ft east of the runway, along its extended centerline. The airplane then struck trees adjacent to the north side of the building before it impacted the ground in a wooded ravine.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for single engine land, single engine sea, and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued on July 3, 2013. He reported 6,500 total hours of flight experience on that date.

Satellite imagery and geographical information system data indicate the turf field was approximately 450 ft long by 60 feet wide, and oriented roughly east-west. The elevation at the west end of the field was about 900 ft, and the east end about 950 feet.

The nearest weather reporting station was located at Oconee County Regional Airport, about 10 miles east of the accident location. About the time of the accident, it reported clear skies, visibility 10 miles, winds from the west at 12 knots gusting 21 knots, temperature 79F, dewpoint 36F, altimeter setting 29.92.

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