Thursday, November 9, 2017

Drones Are Now Operating Underground: Mining companies look to automation to help companies dig out more ore and save lives



The Wall Street Journal
By Mike Cherney
Updated Nov. 9, 2017 9:12 p.m. ET

JUNDEE, Australia—Hundreds of feet underground here, scientists are experimenting with a technology that could transform how mining companies dig out rocks in dangerous, pitch-black caves: fully autonomous drones.

The drones would fly without any pilot assistance into areas too risky for human miners. Using a rotating laser similar to those on autonomous cars, they would create three-dimensional maps more detailed than what is available now, helping miners excavate more gold and other commodities that might otherwise be missed.

“It’s very sci-fi,” said Zachary McLeay, a production engineer for Australian gold producer Northern Star Resources Ltd., after seeing a drone fly into a dark cavern during a recent test.

The trial, at Northern Star’s Jundee gold mine in Western Australia, is part of a broader effort by the global mining industry to embrace automation, which is driving down costs and improving safety. It also might lead to fewer jobs. Companies from South Africa to Australia are already using technology such as driverless trucks, mechanized drilling and extra-long conveyor belts to improve productivity as they look to rebound from the recent downturn in commodity prices.

Automation can “save lives, and also save time and save money,” said Mehmet Kizil, associate professor and mining-engineering program leader at the University of Queensland in Australia. “The industry’s made a big jump in adopting this technology because the biggest cost in mining is labor.”

Drones have become a popular cost-saving measure in sectors as diverse as retail and insurance, and mining companies regularly fly them to get aerial views of their facilities. But taking the machines underground represents a new frontier, and one fraught with risk.

Pitch-dark cavities can conceal dangers, such as falling rocks, with the potential to destroy drones that cost tens of thousand of dollars apiece. Adding to the challenge, a drone flying underground can’t use satellite-navigation systems, such as GPS, like it could on the surface.

Scientists and mining engineers say drones could be deployed to investigate large underground caverns after they are blasted open by explosives. The rock blasted out of these caverns is trucked to the surface, where it is crushed and gold extracted.

Currently, surveyors must use a laser-mapping device attached to a boom, and stick it as far into the cavern as possible. But a laser attached to a fixed point can’t capture everything, and it is too dangerous for human surveyors to go inside for a closer look.



With a better map from a drone, miners could get a clearer picture of how much rock they have blasted out, modify their blasting technique if they aren’t getting enough, and better plan the next cavern to blast. Drones could also collect maps of older sections of mines, making it easier to restart mining in those areas if commodity prices rise.

In general, mining companies assume they can get 95% of the ore from underground using current methods, said Brad Valiukas, technical-services manager at Northern Star. Jundee alone is expected to produce more than $300 million in gold this fiscal year, so even a small improvement in efficiency is “a massive amount of money,” Mr. Valiukas said.

In September, a team of researchers from Data61, part of the Australian government-funded Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, demonstrated at Jundee that a drone could fly by itself in an underground cavern where the pilot couldn’t see it. But that means the pilot also couldn’t intervene if something went wrong.

“It’s a pretty big step for us and it shows that this is feasible,” said Stefan Hrabar, the Brisbane, Australia-based scientist who led the team.

More work still needs to be done. Right now, researchers first must fly the drone with assistance from a pilot to build a preliminary map. Using the initial data, they can then program the drone to fly autonomously to certain locations. But the ultimate goal is a fully autonomous drone that can simply be taken underground and turned on, and then fly away to map a tunnel or cavern. Such drones could be tested in the next few months.




One of the riskier test flights Mr. Hrabar and his colleagues attempted at Jundee was an autonomous flight in a roughly 180-foot-tall cavern, the largest that had been blasted at the mine.

“This is the moment of truth,” said Farid Kendoul, another scientist on the team, just before the flight. The drone, whizzing on its six rotors, disappeared into the cave. It returned a few minutes later, though a hardware glitch required the pilot to help land the machine.

Mr. Kendoul clapped his hands in the poorly lighted tunnel. “It came back,” he said.

Original article, video and photo gallery ➤ https://www.wsj.com

de Havilland Dash 8-100, N815EX, operated by Piedmont Airlines d/b/a US Airways Express: Accident occurred August 10, 2014 near Harrisburg International Airport (KMDT), Middletown, Dauphin County, 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/N815EX

Location: Harrisburg, PA
Accident Number: DCA14CA147
Date & Time: 08/10/2014, 0605 EDT
Registration: N815EX
Aircraft: DEHAVILLAND DHC 8 102
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Birdstrike
Injuries: 20 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 121: Air Carrier - Scheduled

Analysis 

On August 10, 2014 at about 0605 eastern daylight time, a deHavilland DHC-8-100, N815EX, operated by Piedmont Airlines d.b.a. USAirways Express flight 4206, struck a flock of geese during the takeoff roll from Middletown Harrisburg International Airport (KMDT), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There were no injuries to the passengers or crew and the airplane sustained damage. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 as a regularly scheduled passenger flight between KMDT and Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The captain was the pilot flying and the first officer was the pilot monitoring. According to the flight crew, about 15 seconds into the takeoff roll and prior to V1, the captain observed a large group of geese flying from right to left in front of the airplane. He immediately initiated a rejected takeoff as the airplane impacted multiple geese on the front windshield and the right engine propeller, which caused a severe vibration. The flight crew shut down the right engine as the airplane slowed and returned to the gate.

Examination of the airplane indicated damage to the right propeller, a broken passenger window, and damage to the fuselage skin and stringers near the broken window.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
the airplanes collision with geese during the takeoff roll.

Findings

Environmental issues
Animal(s)/bird(s) - Effect on equipment (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Takeoff-rejected takeoff
Birdstrike (Defining event) 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor
Age: 64, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 1 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/08/2014
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 
Flight Time:  36000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 18000 hours (Total, this make and model), 205 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 67 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Co-Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport
Age: 30, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 1 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/14/2014
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  4022 hours (Total, all aircraft), 3662 hours (Total, this make and model), 223 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 75 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: DEHAVILLAND
Registration: N815EX
Model/Series: DHC 8 102 103
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1992
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Transport
Serial Number: 321
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 41
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/09/2014, Continuous Airworthiness
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 34500 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 53834 Hours
Engines: 2 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time:  at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt and Whitney
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: PW120A
Registered Owner: PIEDMONT AIRLINES INC
Rated Power: 2000 hp
Operator: PIEDMONT AIRLINES INC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Flag carrier (121)
Operator Does Business As: US Airways Express
Operator Designator Code: HNAA 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dawn
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMDT
Observation Time: 0556 EDT
Distance from Accident Site:
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 15°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  9 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Harrisburg, PA (MDT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time:  EDT
Type of Airspace: Class D 

Airport Information

Airport: HARRISBURG INTL (MDT)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 309 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 13
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 10002 ft / 200 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 3 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 17 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 20 None
Latitude, Longitude:  40.193333, -76.762778 (est)

Quad City Challenger II, N518DT: Accident occurred August 05, 2014 in Winterhaven, Imperial 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; San Diego, California

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/N518DT



NTSB Identification: WPR14LA327
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 05, 2014 in Winterhaven, CA
Aircraft: DAVID L THOMPSON CHALLENGER II, registration: N518DT
Injuries: 2 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 5, 2014, about 1020 Pacific daylight time, an experimental, David Thompson, Challenger II, N518DT, collided with terrain during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Winterhaven, California. The private pilot and one passenger sustained serious injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage. The owner/pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The cross-country personal flight departed Yuma, Arizona, about 0940, with a planned destination of El Cajon, California. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that after refueling at Yuma International Airport (YUM) they departed and climbed to 6,500 feet when the engine suddenly quit. The pilot attempted to restart the engine but was unsuccessful. During the landing and while still 20 ft high, the airplane encountered a wind gust, impacted the ground hard, and nosed over.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The airplane structure was substantially damaged during the accident sequence, but the engine appeared to be undamaged. The airplane electrical system appeared to be intact, however during the prestart sequence, the number two electrical system would not activate properly. The number one system indicated an ignition fault, which investigators were unable to correct.

Several attempts to start the engine were unsuccessful; the engine would stumble, backfire, and stop. Investigators examined the sparkplugs and determined that only one set of the plugs were firing on each cylinder. The engine was flooding out and when the engine would start to run the exhaust was black in color. The Computer Engine Control (CEC) module did not contain nonvolatile memory, and it could not be determined if the CEC was functioning properly.








NTSB Identification: WPR14LA327
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 05, 2014 in Winterhaven, CA
Aircraft: DAVID L THOMPSON CHALLENGER II, registration: N518DT
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 August 5, 2014, about 1100 Pacific daylight time (PDT), an experimental David Thompson Challenger II, N518DT, crashed during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Winterhaven, California. The owner/pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and one passenger sustained serious injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage. The cross-country personal flight departed Yuma, Arizona, about 1045, with a planned destination of El Cajon, California. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that after refueling at Yuma International Airport (YUM) they departed and climbed to 6,500 feet when the engine suddenly quit. The pilot attempted to restart the engine but was unsuccessful. During the landing approach, about 20 feet agl, they encountered a wind gust, impacted the ground very hard, and nosed over.

The airplane was recovered for further examination.

Piper PA-32-260, N43249, registered to and operated by BEC Industries Ltd: Accident occurred October 23, 2015 in Bluemont, Loudoun County, Virginia

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Dulles, Virginia

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/N43249 


Location: Bluemont, VA
Accident Number: ERA16LA022
Date & Time: 10/23/2015, 1530 EDT
Registration: N43249
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-260
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

Analysis 

The commercial pilot stated that, after departure, while climbing through 4,500 ft mean sea level, engine power decreased, the engine "vibrated violently," and he noted that the oil pressure dropped to zero. Soon after, the engine experienced a total loss of power and the pilot elected to perform a forced landing to a nearby field. An examination of the engine revealed that the No. 5 connecting rod had separated from the crankshaft. While several of the cylinders and connecting rods exhibited corrosion, the root cause for the separation of the No. 5 connecting rod from the crankshaft could not be determined. The manufacturer recommended a time between overhaul of 2,000 hours of operation or 12 years, whichever occurs first. At the time of the accident, the engine had accumulated about 2,500 hours of operation in the approximate 17 years since its last overhaul. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A total loss of engine power as a result of the separation of the No. 5 connecting rod for reasons that could not be determined based on the available information. 

Findings

Aircraft
Recip eng cyl section - Failure (Cause)
Engine (reciprocating) - Not serviced/maintained

Factual Information

History of Flight

Enroute-climb to cruise
Loss of engine power (total) (Defining event)

Emergency descent
Off-field or emergency landing

Landing-flare/touchdown
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT) 

On October 23, 2015, about 1530 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32-260, N43249, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a field near Bluemont, Virginia. The commercial pilot and passenger were not injured. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from Upperville Airport (2VG2), Upperville, Virginia, about 1520, and was destined for Monmouth Executive Airport (BLM), Farmingdale, New Jersey.

According to the pilot, after departure, while climbing through 4,500 feet mean sea level (msl), the engine power decreased, the engine "vibrated violently," and he noted that the oil pressure dropped to zero. He contacted air traffic control and attempted to return to the departure airport; however, he realized the airplane would not make the airport. Therefore, he elected to perform a forced landing to a nearby field.

According to the passenger, the pilot performed a preflight inspection of the airplane and added a quart of oil to the engine prior to departure. During the climb, the "engine sound became very loud with obvious serious knocking." Soon after, the engine seized and the pilot elected to land the airplane in a field. During the landing, the airplane slid across the field, struck two fences, and then came to rest upright. After the pilot and passenger egressed the airplane, the pilot checked the oil level and the passenger reported that it was "full." 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 73, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
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 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/26/2013
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 10/24/2014
Flight Time:  3195 hours (Total, all aircraft), 2500 hours (Total, this make and model), 3180 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft) 

According to the pilot, he held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He reported 3,195 total hours of flight experience, 2,500 hours of which were in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued on October 26, 2013. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N43249
Model/Series: PA-32-260
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1974
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 32-7400042
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats:
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/02/2015, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4610 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: O-540 SERIES
Registered Owner: BEC INDUSTRIES LTD
Rated Power: 250 hp
Operator: BEC INDUSTRIES LTD
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

According to the FAA, the airplane was manufactured in 1974 and was registered to a corporation in 1991. According to the maintenance records, the most recent annual inspection was performed on June 2, 2015, at which time the airplane had a total time of 4,610 hours and a tachometer time of 2,414.2 hours. At that time, the oil and oil filter were changed, and the oil filter was inspected for contaminants, with none noted. Then two other oil changes were noted in the engine logbook, which corresponded to 2,462 hours and 2,512.5 hours. There was no indication in the engine logbook that the oil filters were examined for contaminants at the time they were changed. The oil filter installed on the airplane at the time of the accident indicated it was installed on September 9, 2015, at a tachometer time of 100 hours, and there was no corresponding entry in the engine logbook.

The tachometer in the airplane at the accident location indicated 117.5 hours; however, no maintenance log entry was found that corresponded to a tachometer replacement.

The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-540-E4B5, 260-hp engine. The most recent engine overhaul occurred in 1998. At the most recent annual inspection, the engine had accumulated 2,285.8 hours of time since major overhaul, it was calculated that at the most recent oil change in the engine logbook, the engine had accumulated 2,384.1 hours. Since there was no maintenance log entry that corresponded with the tachometer replacement, the engine had at least an estimated total time of 2,501.6 hours at the time of the accident. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: JYO, 389 ft msl
Observation Time: 1535 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 92°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 20°C / 6°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots, 330°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.22 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: UPPERVILLE, VA (2VG2)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: BELMAR/FARMINGDALE, NJ (BLM)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1520 EDT
Type of Airspace:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude:   39.086667, -77.816111 (est) 

An examination of the airplane revealed that the right wing was impact separated and the left wing was removed by recovery personnel. The engine remained attached to the airplane and the propeller remained attached to the engine. One propeller blade was bent aft in an approximate 45-degree angle and the other blade was bent aft in an approximate 5 degree angle.

The engine cowling was removed and no damage was noted on the exterior of the engine crankcase. The carburetor drain nut was removed and about 12 ounces of fluid similar in color to 100LL aviation fuel was drained out of the carburetor. No debris was noted in the fluid. About 9 quarts of oil was noted in the engine, which had a capacity for 12 quarts. Crankshaft continuity was confirmed by rotating the propeller by hand without resistance, and crankshaft continuity was confirmed to the rear accessory section of the engine. The top spark plugs were removed and thumb compression was confirmed on all cylinders except cylinder No. 5.

The bottom of the crankcase was fractured near the No. 5 connecting rod. The oil pump was removed from the engine and rotated freely by hand. It was disassembled with no anomalies noted. The engine oil sump was removed from the engine and there were multiple pieces and particles of metal in the oil sump. The oil filter was removed from the engine, disassembled, and metallic debris was noted in the filter. The oil suction screen was examined and metallic debris was noted in the screen.

All cylinders except cylinder No. 5 were removed, and corrosion was noted on the Nos. 2, 3, and 4 cylinder walls. The No. 5 connecting rod was separated from the crankshaft and corrosion was noted on the connecting rod surface that interfaced with the crankshaft bearing. Cylinder No. 5 was unable to be removed due the connecting rod damage. In addition, corrosion was noted on the No. 6 connecting rod.

The No. 3 piston exhibited scoring on one side of the piston and the piston pin cap was deformed into an oval shape. The No. 3 cylinder was sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for further examination.

No. 3 Cylinder Assembly Examination

The piston exhibited a wear scar around the piston pin hole. The lines within the wear scar on the piston were consistent with reciprocating rubbing along the axis of the cylinder. The piston pin did not exhibit deformation, but it did exhibit superficial circumferential wear scars, consistent with rotation inside the piston crown. The inside walls of the cylinder exhibited deposits that were consistent with rust. Furthermore, the inner cylinder had a circular wear scar, which was consistent with the shape of the piston pin plug. There was a lack of corrosion in the circular wear region, which suggested that the corrosion of the cylinder was present before the wear or rubbing between the piston assembly and the cylinder occurred. 

Additional Information

According to the Lycoming Service Instruction on the required time between overhaul, it stated that the time between overhaul (TBO) takes "into account service experience, variations in operating conditions, and frequency of operation…Continuous service assumes that the aircraft will not be out of service for more than 30 consecutive days." The investigation was unable to conclusively determine if the engine was out of service for any period greater than 30 days.

"Engine deterioration in the form of corrosion (rust) and the drying out and hardening of composition materials such as gaskets, seals, flexible hoses and fuel pump diaphragms can occur if an engine is out of service for an extended period of time. Due to the loss of protective oil film after an extended period of inactivity, abnormal wear on soft metal bearing surfaces can occur during engine start. Therefore, all engines that do not accumulate the hourly period of TBO specified in this publication are recommended to be overhauled every twelfth year."


The TBO listed for an O-540-E4B5 engine was 2,000 hours. 




NTSB Identification: ERA16LA022
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 23, 2015 in Bluemont, VA
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-260, registration: N43249
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 October 23, 2015, about 1530 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32-260, N43249, experienced a total loss of engine power and the pilot performed a forced landing to a field near Bluemont, Virginia. The commercial pilot and passenger were not injured. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was cond
ucted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from Upperville Airport (2VG2), Upperville, Virginia, about 1520, and was destined for Monmouth Executive Airport (BLM), Farmingdale, New Jersey. 

According to the pilot, after departure, while climbing through 4,500 feet mean sea level (msl), the engine power decreased, the engine "vibrated violently," and he noted that the oil pressure dropped to zero. He contacted air traffic control and attempted to return to the departure airport; however, he realized the airplane would not make the airport. Therefore, he elected to perform a forced landing to a nearby field. 

According to the passenger, the pilot performed a preflight and added a quart of oil prior to departure. During the climb, the "engine sound became very loud with obvious serious knocking." Soon after, the engine seized and the pilot elected to land the airplane in a field. During the landing, the airplane slid across the field, struck two fences, and then came to rest upright. After the pilot and passenger egressed the airplane, the pilot checked the oil level and the passenger reported that it was "full."

A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the right wing was impact separated and the left wing was removed by recovery personnel. The engine remained attached to the airplane and the propeller remained attached to the engine. One propeller blade was bent aft in an approximate 45 degree angle and the other blade was bent aft in an approximate 5 degree angle. 

The engine cowling was removed and no damage was noted on the exterior of the engine crankcase. The carburetor drain nut was removed and about 12 ounces of fluid similar in color to 100LL aviation fuel was drained out of the carburetor. No debris was noted in the fluid. The oil dipstick was removed and about 9 quarts of oil was noted in the engine. Crankshaft continuity was confirmed by rotating the propeller by hand without resistance. The top spark plugs were removed and thumb compression was confirmed on all cylinders except cylinder No. 5. 

The engine was retained for further examination.
========
Loudoun fire and rescue crews were called to the scene of a light aircraft crash near Bluemont this afternoon. 

The call was made at 3:30 p.m. and crews from Round Hill, Hamilton, Purcellville, Mount Weather, the Office of Emergency Management and the Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office responded.

The plane was found in a field on Walsh Farm Lane south of Bluemont.

Two people were aboard. They declined medical treatment.

The State Police said the pilot was experiencing some trouble with the plane and landed in the field as a precaution. The plane, which hit a fence, was damaged, but largely intact.

According to FAA records, the aircraft is a single-engine 1974 Piper registered to BEC Industries Ltd. in Monmouth County, NJ. 

According to Loudoun Fire-Rescue, the plane departed from a private airfield in Upperville and was headed to an executive airport in New Jersey when the crash occurred.  The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Dulles, Virginia

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

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

Registered Owner: BEC Industries Ltd

Operator: BEC Industries Ltd

http://registry.faa.gov/N43249 



NTSB Identification: ERA16LA022
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 23, 2015 in Bluemont, VA
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-260, registration: N43249
Injuries: 2 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.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 23, 2015, about 1530 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32-260, N43249, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a field near Bluemont, Virginia. The commercial pilot and passenger were not injured. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from Upperville Airport (2VG2), Upperville, Virginia, about 1520, and was destined for Monmouth Executive Airport (BLM), Farmingdale, New Jersey.

According to the pilot, after departure, while climbing through 4,500 feet mean sea level (msl), the engine power decreased, the engine "vibrated violently," and he noted that the oil pressure dropped to zero. He contacted air traffic control and attempted to return to the departure airport; however, he realized the airplane would not make the airport. Therefore, he elected to perform a forced landing to a nearby field.

According to the passenger, the pilot performed a preflight inspection of the airplane and added a quart of oil to the engine prior to departure. During the climb, the "engine sound became very loud with obvious serious knocking." Soon after, the engine seized and the pilot elected to land the airplane in a field. During the landing, the airplane slid across the field, struck two fences, and then came to rest upright. After the pilot and passenger egressed the airplane, the pilot checked the oil level and the passenger reported that it was "full."

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

According to the pilot, he held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He reported 3,195 total hours of flight experience, 2,500 hours of which were in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued on October 26, 2013.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

According to the FAA, the airplane was manufactured in 1974 and was registered to a corporation in 1991. According to the maintenance records, the most recent annual inspection was performed on June 2, 2015, at which time the airplane had a total time of 4,610 hours and a tachometer time of 2,414.2 hours. At that time, the oil and oil filter were changed, and the oil filter was inspected for contaminants, with none noted. Then two other oil changes were noted in the engine logbook, which corresponded to 2,462 hours and 2,512.5 hours. There was no indication in the engine logbook that the oil filters were examined for contaminants at the time they were changed. The oil filter installed on the airplane at the time of the accident indicated it was installed on September 9, 2015, at a tachometer time of 100 hours, and there was no corresponding entry in the engine logbook.

The tachometer in the airplane at the accident location indicated 117.5 hours; however, no maintenance log entry was found that corresponded to a tachometer replacement.

The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-540-E4B5, 260-hp engine. The most recent engine overhaul occurred in 1998. At the most recent annual inspection, the engine had accumulated 2,285.8 hours of time since major overhaul, it was calculated that at the most recent oil change in the engine logbook, the engine had accumulated 2,384.1 hours. Since there was no maintenance log entry that corresponded with the tachometer replacement, the engine had at least an estimated total time of 2,501.6 hours at the time of the accident.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

An examination of the airplane revealed that the right wing was impact separated and the left wing was removed by recovery personnel. The engine remained attached to the airplane and the propeller remained attached to the engine. One propeller blade was bent aft in an approximate 45-degree angle and the other blade was bent aft in an approximate 5 degree angle.

The engine cowling was removed and no damage was noted on the exterior of the engine crankcase. The carburetor drain nut was removed and about 12 ounces of fluid similar in color to 100LL aviation fuel was drained out of the carburetor. No debris was noted in the fluid. About 9 quarts of oil was noted in the engine, which had a capacity for 12 quarts. Crankshaft continuity was confirmed by rotating the propeller by hand without resistance, and crankshaft continuity was confirmed to the rear accessory section of the engine. The top spark plugs were removed and thumb compression was confirmed on all cylinders except cylinder No. 5.

The bottom of the crankcase was fractured near the No. 5 connecting rod. The oil pump was removed from the engine and rotated freely by hand. It was disassembled with no anomalies noted. The engine oil sump was removed from the engine and there were multiple pieces and particles of metal in the oil sump. The oil filter was removed from the engine, disassembled, and metallic debris was noted in the filter. The oil suction screen was examined and metallic debris was noted in the screen.

All cylinders except cylinder No. 5 were removed, and corrosion was noted on the Nos. 2, 3, and 4 cylinder walls. The No. 5 connecting rod was separated from the crankshaft and corrosion was noted on the connecting rod surface that interfaced with the crankshaft bearing. Cylinder No. 5 was unable to be removed due the connecting rod damage. In addition, corrosion was noted on the No. 6 connecting rod.

The No. 3 piston exhibited scoring on one side of the piston and the piston pin cap was deformed into an oval shape. The No. 3 cylinder was sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for further examination.

No. 3 Cylinder Assembly Examination

The piston exhibited a wear scar around the piston pin hole. The lines within the wear scar on the piston were consistent with reciprocating rubbing along the axis of the cylinder. The piston pin did not exhibit deformation, but it did exhibit superficial circumferential wear scars, consistent with rotation inside the piston crown. The inside walls of the cylinder exhibited deposits that were consistent with rust. Furthermore, the inner cylinder had a circular wear scar, which was consistent with the shape of the piston pin plug. There was a lack of corrosion in the circular wear region, which suggested that the corrosion of the cylinder was present before the wear or rubbing between the piston assembly and the cylinder occurred.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to the Lycoming Service Instruction on the required time between overhaul, it stated that the time between overhaul (TBO) takes "into account service experience, variations in operating conditions, and frequency of operation…Continuous service assumes that the aircraft will not be out of service for more than 30 consecutive days." The investigation was unable to conclusively determine if the engine was out of service for any period greater than 30 days.

"Engine deterioration in the form of corrosion (rust) and the drying out and hardening of composition materials such as gaskets, seals, flexible hoses and fuel pump diaphragms can occur if an engine is out of service for an extended period of time. Due to the loss of protective oil film after an extended period of inactivity, abnormal wear on soft metal bearing surfaces can occur during engine start. Therefore, all engines that do not accumulate the hourly period of TBO specified in this publication are recommended to be overhauled every twelfth year."

The TBO listed for an O-540-E4B5 engine was 2,000 hours.



NTSB Identification: ERA16LA022
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 23, 2015 in Bluemont, VA
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-260, registration: N43249
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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 October 23, 2015, about 1530 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32-260, N43249, experienced a total loss of engine power and the pilot performed a forced landing to a field near Bluemont, Virginia. The commercial pilot and passenger were not injured. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was cond
ucted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from Upperville Airport (2VG2), Upperville, Virginia, about 1520, and was destined for Monmouth Executive Airport (BLM), Farmingdale, New Jersey. 

According to the pilot, after departure, while climbing through 4,500 feet mean sea level (msl), the engine power decreased, the engine "vibrated violently," and he noted that the oil pressure dropped to zero. He contacted air traffic control and attempted to return to the departure airport; however, he realized the airplane would not make the airport. Therefore, he elected to perform a forced landing to a nearby field. 

According to the passenger, the pilot performed a preflight and added a quart of oil prior to departure. During the climb, the "engine sound became very loud with obvious serious knocking." Soon after, the engine seized and the pilot elected to land the airplane in a field. During the landing, the airplane slid across the field, struck two fences, and then came to rest upright. After the pilot and passenger egressed the airplane, the pilot checked the oil level and the passenger reported that it was "full."

A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the right wing was impact separated and the left wing was removed by recovery personnel. The engine remained attached to the airplane and the propeller remained attached to the engine. One propeller blade was bent aft in an approximate 45 degree angle and the other blade was bent aft in an approximate 5 degree angle. 

The engine cowling was removed and no damage was noted on the exterior of the engine crankcase. The carburetor drain nut was removed and about 12 ounces of fluid similar in color to 100LL aviation fuel was drained out of the carburetor. No debris was noted in the fluid. The oil dipstick was removed and about 9 quarts of oil was noted in the engine. Crankshaft continuity was confirmed by rotating the propeller by hand without resistance. The top spark plugs were removed and thumb compression was confirmed on all cylinders except cylinder No. 5. 

The engine was retained for further examination.

Zenair STOL CH 701, N4931M: Accident occurred October 14, 2015 at Weedon Field Airport (KEUF), Eufaula, Barbour County, Alabama

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama

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/N2EU

Location: Eufaula, AL
Accident Number: ERA16LA014
Date & Time: 10/14/2015, 1445 CDT
Registration: N4931M
Aircraft: GROSS MICHAEL E STOL CH 701
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

Analysis 

The private pilot had purchased the airplane a day earlier and, while flying it back to his home airport, stopped at an en route airport to refuel. The pilot stated that, about midfield during the takeoff, the engine began to run roughly and vibrate, was not producing full power, and the flight controls "got mushy." Shortly after the takeoff, at an altitude of 50 ft, the airplane veered to the left, impacted the ground, and nosed over. The pilot noted that the airplane took longer to take off due to a crosswind; however, weather recorded at the airport 13 minutes after the accident included calm winds. Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any preexisting mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation, and the reason for the loss of engine power could not be determined. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A partial loss of engine power during takeoff for reasons that could not be determined, because postaccident examination revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures. Also causal was the pilot's decision to continue the takeoff following the loss of power. 

Findings

Aircraft
Angle of attack - Capability exceeded

Personnel issues
Incorrect action performance - Pilot (Cause)

Factual Information 

On October 14, 2015, about 1445 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Zenith STOL CH701, N4931M, was substantially damaged shortly after taking off from Weedon Field (EUF), Eufala, Alabama. The private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the flight to Eu-Wish Airport (MU68), Hermann, Missouri. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

After the accident, the pilot was granted permission by the NTSB investigator in charge to transport the airplane to his home in Missouri, being advised that additional information would be requested. The pilot subsequently failed to respond to any NTSB information requests, either directly or through his attorney. The investigation could thus only rely on the information gathered onsite by the responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, and on a written statement from the pilot subsequently provided through his attorney to the FAA inspector.

According to the pilot, he had purchased the airplane the day before in Florida, and was flying it home to Missouri, stopping at EUF to refuel. After refueling, the engine would not start, and the battery discharged. After charging the battery, the engine started "normally."

In a written statement the day of the accident, the pilot stated that after takeoff, about 50 feet above the runway, the airplane "turned left and did not respond to any control inputs to trim right and stay over the runway. Instead, it continued a left bank and impacted the ground."

In a later statement, the pilot stated that he had performed an engine run-up at 4,000 rpm without noting any anomalies. After which, he taxied to south end of runway 36 and commenced the takeoff. After applying full power, the airplane took longer than normal to take off due to crosswind conditions. About 50 feet above the runway, at mid-field, the engine began to run roughly and vibrate, and was not producing full power. The pilot attempted to "smooth out" the engine by adjusting the throttle; there was no mixture control.

The pilot then attempted to land the airplane back on the runway, but in the process, it veered off the left side and flipped upside-down. The pilot egressed the airplane, and reached back in to turn off the fuel valve as the emergency vehicles arrived.

According to the responding FAA inspector, the airplane had been moved to a hangar prior to her arrival. There, she noted that one blade of the three-bladed composite propeller was broken off and one was cracked. There was no bending or twisting of the propeller blades. There was no dripping or splattering of oil on the engine cowling. No anomalies were noted within the engine compartment.

The fuel bowl on the left side of the engine was full, and both wing fuel tanks were full of fuel. The inspector also drained fuel from each of the two wing tanks, and the fuel sump on the underside of the fuselage, just aft the engine compartment, and all samples were "clear and clean."

The inspector noted no control binding to the elevator or rudder, and while checking for aileron binding (none noted), the pilot stated that the controls "got mushy."

The FAA inspector subsequently drove out along the runway to where the airplane was recovered, which was about 3,200 feet from the departure end of the 5,000-foot runway.

Weather, recorded at the airport 13 minutes after the accident, included clear skies and calm winds. 

History of Flight

Initial climb
Loss of control in flight (Defining event) 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private; Sport Pilot
Age: 66, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 10/10/2015
Flight Time:  218 hours (Total, all aircraft), 6 hours (Total, this make and model), 8 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 6 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: GROSS MICHAEL E
Registration: N4931M
Model/Series: STOL CH 701
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 7-4931
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 02/11/2015, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection: 25 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 738 Hours
Engine Manufacturer: ROTAX
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: 912UL
Registered Owner: Karl H. Paubel
Rated Power: hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: EUF, 285 ft msl
Observation Time: 1958 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 9°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.99 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Eufala, AL (EUF)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Hermann, MO (MU68)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1445 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Weedon Field (EUF)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 285 ft
Runway Surface Condition:  Dry
Runway Used: 36
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5000 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing 

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:  31.951389, -85.128889 (est)




NTSB Identification: ERA16LA014

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 14, 2015 in Eufala, AL
Aircraft: GROSS MICHAEL E STOL CH 701, registration: N4931M
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 October 14, 2015, about 1445 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Zenith STOL CH701, N4931M, was substantially damaged shortly after taking off from Weedon Field (EUF), Eufala, Alabama. The private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the flight to Eu-Wish Airport (MU68), Hermann, Missouri. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot, he had purchased the airplane the day before in Florida, and was flying it home, stopping at EUF to refuel. After refueling, the engine would not start, and the battery discharged. After charging the battery, the engine started "normally."

The pilot subsequently performed an engine run-up at 4,000 rpm without noting any anomalies. After which, he taxied to south end of runway 36 and commenced the takeoff. After applying full power, the airplane took longer than normal to take off due to cross wind conditions. About 50 feet above the runway, at mid-field, the engine began to run roughly and vibrate, and was not producing full power. The pilot attempted to "smooth out" the engine by adjusting the throttle; there was no mixture control.

The pilot then attempted to land the airplane back on the runway, but in the process, it veered off the left side and flipped upside-down. The pilot egressed the airplane, and reached back in to turn off the fuel valve as the emergency vehicles arrived.

According to the responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the airplane had been moved to a hangar prior to her arrival. There, she noted that one blade of the three-bladed propeller was broken off and one was cracked. There was no bending or twisting of the propeller blades. There was no dripping or splattering of oil on the engine cowling. No anomalies were noted within the engine compartment, and all fuel samples were clear. The fuel bowl on the left side of the engine was full, and both wing fuel tanks were full of fuel.

The FAA inspector subsequently drove out along the runway to where the airplane was recovered, which was about 3,200 feet from the departure end.

With concurrence from the NTSB investigator in charge, the airplane was subsequently ground-transported to the pilot's home in Missouri.