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

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N815EX

NTSB Identification: DCA14CA147
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of PIEDMONT AIRLINES INC (D.B.A. US Airways Express)
Accident occurred Sunday, August 10, 2014 in Harrisburg, PA
Aircraft: DEHAVILLAND DHC 8 102, registration: N815EX

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

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 BEC Industries Ltd 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 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 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/N2EU


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.

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.

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.


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.

Cessna 172E Skyhawk, N3647S: Fatal accident occurred September 19, 2015 in Gettysburg, Adams County, Pennsylvania

Walter Miller Trostle, 85, passed away on October 27, 2015, at York Hospital in York, Pennsylvania.


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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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/N3647S


NTSB Identification: ERA15LA363
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 19, 2015 in Gettysburg, PA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172E, registration: N3647S
Injuries: 2 Serious.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 19, 2015, at 1043 eastern daylight time, a privately owned and operated Cessna 172E, N3647S, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a soybean field after a total loss of engine power near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The private pilot and pilot-rated passenger received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight that departed from Waltz Field (34PA), Gettysburg, Pennsylvania about 1015. The airplane was being operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot-rated passenger stated that prior to departure, during the engine run-up, the engine ran "a little rough" when operated on one of the two magnetos. The pilot continued the run up until the engine operated smoothly on the left, right, and both magnetos. He recalled that the engine operated "remarkably smooth" for takeoff, climb and while performing various maneuvers. After descending from 3,000 feet to about 1,500 feet above mean sea level, the engine started to "shake, rumble, spit, and sputter and then just quit." The passenger further recalled that the pilot did not reduce engine power from its previous setting of around 2,400 rpm during the descent, nor did he apply carburetor heat. After the engine lost power, the pilot attempted to land in a nearby grass field, however the approach was too fast. He overflew the grass field, then touched down in an adjacent soybean field, the airplane bounced, veered left, and collided with the tree line at the edge of the field.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate had expired, it was issued on December 29, 2010, at which time he reported a total of 2,096 hours of flight experience.

The four-seat, single-engine, high-wing airplane was manufactured in 1963, and was equipped with a Continental O-300D, 145-horsepower reciprocating engine. The maintenance logbooks were not recovered. FAA airworthiness records showed that the airplane had been modified to operate with automotive gasoline in accordance with a supplemental type certificate. According to a mechanic, an annual inspection of the airplane was completed in July 2013, after which the airplane had accrued about 1 hour of flight prior to the next annual inspection, which was completed by him on September 11, 2015. During the interval between the two inspections, automotive fuel remained in the fuel tanks. Maintenance documents provided by the mechanic revealed that the carburetor had been replaced, seals in the fuel selector valve and gascolator were replaced, the automotive fuel was drained and 15 gallons of 100 low-lead aviation fuel was added to the fuel tanks, just prior to the September 2015 annual inspection. Afterwards, the engine operated satisfactorily during ground tests. The accident flight was the first flight after the maintenance and inspection.

Examination of the airplane revealed that the left wing was partially separated from the fuselage, rotated about 45 degrees aft, and exhibited leading edge crush damage. The right wing remained attached, exhibited leading edge crush damage, and the right aileron was separated from the wing. The empennage was partially separated from the fuselage near the aft bulkhead of the cargo compartment. Flight control cable continuity was confirmed for pitch and yaw from the cockpit controls to the respective control surfaces, while the aileron control cables exhibited fractures in each wing consistent with tension overload.

The left fuel tank was breached, and about 2 gallons of fuel were drained from it during recovery operations. An unknown amount of fuel had leaked from the right wing after the accident. The gascolator and carburetor were full of a yellowish-amber fluid similar in color and odor as automotive fuel. The fuel inlet screen was unobstructed, and no water was present. Air pressure was applied to the gascolator outlet and fluid was observed flowing through the fractured fuel lines at the door pillars near the wing attach points. The carburetor needle valve and seat were clean with no debris found. When manually operated, fluid was observed exiting out of the carburetor accelerator pump. The carburetor main fuel nozzle was absent of debris. The fluid observed throughout the fuel system was yellowish-amber in color with an odor consistent with automotive fuel.

One of the propeller blades was bent aft at its tip. Neither blade exhibited a pattern of chordwise scratching or leading edge damage. The propeller was rotated by hand and thumb suction and compression was observed on all cylinders. Continuity of the crankshaft was confirmed to the rear accessory pad. The top spark plugs were removed and appeared grey to slightly black in color with normal wear when checked against the Champion Check-A-Plug chart. Both magnetos produced spark on all towers when rotated by hand. The air inlet box was clean and free of obstructions. The throttle, mixture, and carburetor heat controls were securely attached to the engine and moved freely. The oil quantity dipstick indicated 6 quarts.

A weather observation recorded at Fountain Dale Heliport (RYT), Fountain Dale, Pennsylvania, at 1053 included: temperature 23 degrees C (73 F), dew point 18 degrees C (64 F), and an altimeter setting of 29.95 inches of mercury.

According to an FAA Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin, these weather conditions are conducive to serious carburetor icing at glide power settings.

FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 91-33A, Use of Alternate Grades of Aviation for Grade 80/87, and Use of Automotive Gasoline, provided operational information regarding the use of automotive fuels in aircraft. According to the AC, "Long-term fuel storage of automotive gasoline in aircraft fuel tanks should be avoided. Although automotive gasolines have lower maximum existent gum specification requirements than aviation gasoline, either fuel can form undesirable gum deposits over long-term storage under particularly severe conditions, such as in barrels and at high temperature. Gum deposits thus formed could result in engine malfunctions." The AC further stated, "FAA Technical Center testing indicates that carburetor icing will occur in less time and at higher ambient temperatures with automotive gasoline than with aviation gasoline. Therefore, pilots using automotive gasoline should be familiar with the induction system icing prevention procedures of the FAA Advisory Circular AC 20-113 and be prepared to use these procedures at higher ambient temperatures and lower humidities than when using aviation gasolines."


NTSB Identification: ERA15LA363
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 19, 2015 in Gettysburg, PA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172E, registration: N3647S
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 September 19, 2015, at 1043 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172E, N3647S, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a soybean field after a total loss of engine power near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The private pilot and pilot-rated passenger received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight that departed from Waltz Field (34PA), Gettysburg, Pennsylvania at an unknown time. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot-rated passenger stated that prior to departure, during the engine run-up, the engine ran "a little rough" when operated on one of the two magnetos. The pilot continued the run up until the engine operated smoothly on the left, right, and both magnetos. He recalled that the engine operated "remarkably smooth" for takeoff, climb and while performing various maneuvers. After descending from 3,000 feet to about 1,500 feet above mean sea level, the engine started to "shake, rumble, spit, and sputter and then just quit." The pilot attempted to land in a nearby field and on touchdown the airplane bounced, veered left, and collided with the tree line at the edge of the field.

According to a mechanic, an annual inspection of the airplane was completed in July 2013, after which the airplane had accrued about 1 hour of flight prior to the next annual inspection which was completed on September 11, 2015. During the interval between the two inspections, automotive fuel remained in the fuel tanks. Maintenance records of the most recent annual inspection revealed that the carburetor and seals in both the fuel selector valve and the gascolator were replaced, fuel was drained from the fuel tanks, and the fuel tanks were refueled with 15 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel. The engine was then operated satisfactorily during ground tests.

The airplane came to rest upright in a tree line at the edge of a soybean field. The left wing was partially separated from the fuselage, rotated about 45 degrees aft, and exhibited leading edge crush damage. The right wing remained attached, exhibited leading edge crush damage, and the right aileron was separated from the wing. The empennage was partially separated from the fuselage near the aft bulkhead of the cargo compartment. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit controls to the respective control surfaces. The aileron cables exhibited fractures in each wing consistent with overload.

The left fuel tank was breached, and about 2 gallons of fuel were drained from it during recovery operations. An unknown amount of fuel had leaked from the right wing after the accident. The gascolator and carburetor were full of a yellowish-amber fluid similar in color and odor as automotive fuel. The fuel inlet screen was unobstructed, and no water was present. Air pressure was applied to the gascolator outlet and fluid was observed flowing through the fractured fuel lines at the door pillars near the wing attach points. The carburetor needle valve and seat were clean with no debris found. When manually operated, fluid was observed exiting out of the carburetor accelerator pump. The fluid observed throughout the fuel system was yellowish-amber in color with an odor consistent with automotive fuel.

The propeller was rotated by hand and thumb suction and compression was observed on all cylinders. Continuity of the crankshaft was confirmed from the propeller to the rear accessory pad. The top spark plugs were removed and appeared grey to slightly black in color with normal wear when checked against the Champion Check-A-Plug chart. Both magnetos produced spark on all towers when rotated by hand. The air inlet box was clean and free of obstructions. The throttle, mixture, and carburetor heat controls were securely attached to the engine and moved freely. The oil quantity dipstick indicated 6 quarts.

The engine was retained for further examination.

Israel Aircraft Industries 1125 Westwind Astra, N765A: Accident occurred July 23, 2015 at Baltimore–Washington International Airport (KBWI), Anne Arundel County, Maryland

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baltimore, Maryland
Gulfstream Aerospace; Savannah, Georgia

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

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

GMH Capital LLC

Urgent Care MSO LLC

http://registry.faa.gov/N765A

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA292
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 23, 2015 in Baltimore, MD
Aircraft: ISRAEL AIRCRAFT INDUSTRIES 1125 WESTWIND ASTRA, registration: N765A
Injuries: 7 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 July 23, 2015, about 2045 eastern daylight time, an Israel Aircraft Industries 1125 Westwind Astra, N765A, returned to land at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), Baltimore, Maryland, after the main entry door (MED) opened in flight. Both airline transport pilots and the five passengers were not injured. The airplane was registered to GMH Capital, LLC, and operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a business flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight destined for Chicago Executive Airport (PWK), Chicago, Illinois. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

According to the pilot monitoring (PM), after the passengers boarded the airplane he closed, locked, and visually checked to verify that the MED handle pin was engaged in the handle lock. He then proceeded to the cockpit in order to begin the flight. During the starting procedures, the red warning CABIN DOOR annunciator light remained extinguished. Furthermore, throughout the engine start, taxi, and takeoff, the red warning CABIN DOOR light, the amber CABIN DOOR SEAL caution light, and the MASTER CAUTION light remained off. Then, immediately after the airplane departed, the flight crew identified that the red CABIN DOOR light, amber CABIN DOOR SEAL, and MASTER CAUTION lights were illuminated. The PM requested to return to the airport. The pilot flying (PF) began to maneuver the airplane in order to return to the airport when the MED opened in flight. The flight crew declared an emergency; however, could not hear the air traffic controller's response due to the noise resulting from the open door. They were contacted through light gun signals and given clearance to land. Upon landing, the open MED contacted the runway, but remained attached to the door frame.

Examination of the airframe revealed that both the MED and the airframe structure surrounding it were substantially damaged during the accident sequence.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the airplane was manufactured in 1986 and was registered to a corporation in 2013. The most recent continuous airworthiness inspection was a 1000-hour inspection, or "C" inspection, which was performed on June 22, 2015, at a total time of 8668.6 hours. During that inspection, a mechanic initialed that the "Passenger/Crew Door – Check" was performed.

According to the airplane maintenance manual, the MED was located on the left forward side of the airplane. The door was a semi-plug-type door, which was composed of 10 stop pins, locking cams, a mechanical stirrup, and a handle to secure it in place. The door rotated around two lower hinges and incorporated fixed boarding steps for access to cabin level. Door locking was achieved by superimposing a vertical translation in addition to the rotating movement of the hinges, thereby inserting 10 stop pins rigidly mounted on the door, 5 pins on each side of the door, into stop pads firmly anchored to the machined side frames of the airplane structure. The locking movement also rotated two locking cams and would bring them against pads incorporated in the door frame. The cams prevented the door from being raised (unless the handle was rotated) and thus eliminated inadvertent opening of the door in case of mechanical failure of the door mechanism.

As the door was transitioned into the closed position, the pin on the handle would contact and displace the spring-loaded stirrup and as the pin slid by, it would release the stirrup allowing it to spring back into position, securing the handle in the closed position. Locking the handle in a "safe guarded" position protected against inadvertent raising of the handle and subsequent opening of the door. The spring-loaded stirrup mechanism had to be manually displaced before being capable of rotating the handle upward and subsequently unlocking the door. Once the airplane was pressurized, the stirrup mechanism could only be actuated when cabin pressurization fell, due to the pressure interlock mechanism. An additional safety measure of the MED handle locking mechanism was a set of air springs that provided a "self-locking" feature. The internal door handle was assisted to the locked position with the air springs. The air springs, as an over-centering device, would move the door handle into the locked position with the stirrup if it was released 10 to 15 degrees prior to contacting the stirrup. Furthermore, the air-springs were a maintenance item when performing the Passenger/Crew Door check.

There were 3 micro-switches that monitored the door's closed and locked position; the "seal pressure switch" which provided feedback to the amber DOOR SEAL annunciator, as well as the "door switch" and "door lock switch," which provided feedback to the red CABIN DOOR annunciator panel light. Should either switch toggle from locked to unlocked, the CABIN DOOR annunciator would illuminate.

The cockpit annunciator panel, located on the center of the instrument panel and consisted of 60 different notification lights arranged in 4 columns and 15 rows. The panel provided numerous system notifications to the crew. The CABIN DOOR annunciator light (colored red) was located in the second column of annunciator lights, in third row from the bottom. The CABIN DOOR SEAL annunciator light (colored amber) was located in the third column of lights, in the fourth row from the bottom.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot flying held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, and type ratings for G-100, IA-1125, and IA-JET.
The pilot's most recent first-class medical certificate was issued in September 2014. He reported 3,265 hours of total flight experience, 273 hours of which were in the accident airplane make and model.

The pilot monitoring held an airline transport pilot certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land, and type ratings for EMB-505, G-100, and an IA-1125. His most recent first-class medical certificate was issued in June 2015. He reported 5,724 hours of total flight experience, 182 hours of which were in the accident airplane make and model.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 2054, the recorded weather at BWI included calm wind, a few clouds at 6,000 feet, scattered clouds at 25,000 feet, 10 miles visibility, temperature 23 degrees C, dew point 13 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.95 inches of mercury.

FLIGHT RECORDERS

The airplane was equipped with a cockpit voice recorder, which was retained and auditioned in the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory. Audition of the recorder revealed a series of events, consistent with the flight crews' statements. While taxiing, the pilot flying noted "cabin door is closed." Then while waiting to depart, the flight crew completed the before departure checklist and did not note any anomalies.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The door was removed from the airplane and shipped to the manufacturer for further examination. A detailed examination of the door revealed that the when the locking mechanism was engaged into the stirrup, the door remained secured and locked. However, the locking mechanism air-springs "self-locking" feature did not function when tested. The door locking handle could be released at any point in its travel and the handle would remain in place. The handle could be moved without effort, but the air-springs did not force the handle into the inner stirrup position. The air-springs were removed and exhibited no output forces or "spring" action that would contribute to "self-locking" feature of the door locking mechanism was noted. Furthermore, the original air-springs were replaced with mock-up air-springs and the "self-locking" feature of the door operated without anomaly.

In addition, the CABIN DOOR annunciator light switch and internal wiring were tested. There were no anomalies with the internal wiring that would have precluded normal operation prior to the accident. Operational checks of the switch found that the switch would deactivate, allowing the CABIN DOOR annunciator light to extinguish, when the locking mechanism was resting on the stirrup, however, was not fully engaged and locked. The switch would activate, illuminating the CABIN DOOR annunciator light, when the locking mechanism handle was pulled away from, and not in contact with the stirrup.

There were no anomalies with the door securing mechanism that would have precluded normal operation prior to the accident.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to the Airplane Flight Manual, in the Normal Procedures, the Before Taxiing checklist indicated that the pilots were to perform the following actions:

CABIN DOOR – CLOSED; "physically verify that two door locks and stops are in place and handle pin is latched and locked."

CABIN DOOR (red) light - OUT

According to the Quick Reference Handbook, it stated in the Before Taxiing Checklist:

CABIN DOOR ……………CLOSED
(Physically verify that two door locks and stops are in place and handle pin is latched and locked. Verify CABIN DOOR amber annunciator is out.)

According to the airplane Maintenance Manual, a 1000-hour inspection included the following items to be checked:

"Passenger/Crew Door – Check:"

Lock door from inside.
- Slowly release internal MED handle 10 – 15 degrees before locking position.
- Verify inner air-springs lock door automatically (self-locking).
- Ensure inner locking handle is locked and cannot be rotated unless stirrup is depressed.

"Door Warning System – Operational Test:"

- Verifies cabin door annunciation light extinguishes.
- Verifies cabin door seal annunciation light extinguishes.

"Passenger/Crew Door Microswitch – Adjustment/Test:"
- This procedure adjusts the microswitch with door closed but not locked down and latched.

Mooney M-20G Statesman, N9152V: Accident occurred July 10, 2015 at Deer Valley Airport (KDVT), Phoenix, Arizona

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona

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/N9152V 



NTSB Identification: WPR15LA209
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 10, 2015 in Phoenix, AZ
Aircraft: MOONEY M 20G, registration: N9152V
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.

On July 10, 2015, about 0900 mountain standard time, a Mooney M20G, N9152V, experienced a partial loss of engine power while on short final to the Phoenix Deer Valley Airport (DVT), Phoenix, Arizona, and subsequently landed short of the runway. The private pilot undergoing instruction and the certified flight instructor (CFI) sustained no injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing. The airplane is registered to a private individual and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed.

The private pilot undergoing instruction reported that when they passed the approach end of the runway on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, he reduced power to idle to conduct a practice 180o power off landing. The pilot maintained glide speed until about 40 feet above the ground when the pilot observed the airplane was slightly below the intended glide path. The pilot increased power to initiate a go around, however, the engine sputtered and did not increase RPM. The pilot executed a forced landing short of the runway surface; the airplane touched down hard and bounced. When it settled back onto the ground, the right main landing gear and nose landing gear collapsed and the airplane came to rest to the right of the runway surface. 

The CFI reported that when the private pilot decided to conduct a go around, he looked at the throttle quadrant to confirm that the throttle was full forward and the propeller and mixture levers were also positioned correctly. 

A postaccident engine run was conducted by a mechanic and inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The spark plugs were removed and examined; they displayed signatures consistent with a rich running engine. The spark plugs were reinstalled and an undamaged propeller was installed. The engine started without hesitation; after idling temporarily, the RPM was increased and a magneto check was completed with no abnormalities noted. The power was decreased to idle for two minutes to simulate a 180o power off landing. The throttle was abruptly increased to full power; it hesitated for a split second and went to full RPM for a couple minutes. This sequence was conducted twice with no anomalies noted. The engine was shutdown uneventfully. 

The engine data monitor download showed that shortly before the engine lost power, the engine was at idle for about 1.5 minutes; during which, the cylinder exhaust gas temperatures were decreasing. At the end of the 1.5 minutes, there was an increase in RPM and subsequent small spike in the exhaust gas temperatures before they continued to decrease. In addition, the RPMs continued to zero, and the manifold pressure adjusted to barometric pressure.

At the time of the accident, the reported temperature was 29o C and the dew point was 7o C. According to the FAA carburetor icing Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin, the condition was conducive to carburetor icing at glide and cruise power settings. 


NTSB Identification: WPR15LA209
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 10, 2015 in Phoenix, AZ
Aircraft: MOONEY M 20G, registration: N9152V
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 July 10, 2015, about 0900 mountain standard time, a Mooney M20G, N9152V, experienced a partial loss of engine power while on short final to the Phoenix Deer Valley Airport (DVT), Phoenix, Arizona, and subsequently landed short of the runway. The private pilot undergoing instruction and the certified flight instructor sustained no injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing. The airplane is registered to a private individual and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. 

The private pilot undergoing instruction reported that he was conducting a practice power off 180-degree landing. When the airplane was about 30 feet above the ground he realized that he was going to land short of the runway. He added power, but the airplane's engine sputtered and would not increase RPM. He kept the wings level and landed on the rocks just short of the runway. The airplane traversed onto the runway surface when the right landing gear collapsed and the airplane came to rest on the side of the runway.

The airplane has been recovered to a secure location for further examination.