Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Buckeye Dream Machine, N4017L, registered to and operated by the pilot: Fatal accident occurred April 02, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Nashville, Tennessee

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



Location: Knoxville, TN
Accident Number: ERA17FA144
Date & Time: 04/02/2017, 1530 EDT
Registration: N4017L
Aircraft: BUCKEYE AVIATION DREAM MACHINE
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

Analysis

The sport pilot and the passenger were making a local flight in the powered parachute. The passenger, who survived the accident, reported that, about an hour into the flight, the pilot turned to the east toward the passenger's home. After overflying the passenger's home at low altitude, the pilot maneuvered the powered parachute to the east toward rising terrain and trees. The passenger's wife was outside her home at the time of the accident and noticed that the aircraft was flying low, and other witnesses also reported seeing the aircraft flying low before the accident. According to the passenger, the aircraft did not climb quickly enough to clear the trees; the landing gear struck about three trees; and the aircraft dropped into the woods striking tree limbs on the way down.

Postaccident examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of a preimpact mechanical malfunction or anomaly, and the passenger reported that he did not notice any significant change in engine speed before the aircraft struck the trees. The engine ran satisfactorily when tested after the accident.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's decision to maneuver the aircraft at low altitude, towards rising terrain, which resulted in an inflight collision with trees.

Findings

Aircraft
Altitude - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Sloped/uneven terrain - Decision related to condition (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying
Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

On April 2, 2017, about 1530 eastern daylight time, a Buckeye Aviation Dream Machine powered parachute, N4017L, collided with trees and terrain at Knoxville, Tennessee. The sport pilot was fatally injured, and the passenger was seriously injured. The powered parachute was substantially damaged. The powered parachute was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local, personal flight. The flight originated at a private, grass airstrip about 1415.

The passenger reported that the preflight portion of the flight was uneventful. The takeoff was accomplished on the grass airstrip, and the flight departed to the west. About 1an hour later, the pilot turned to the east toward the passenger's home. After overflying the passenger's home, the pilot maneuvered the powered parachute to the east over rising terrain and trees. The aircraft did not seem to be climbing quickly enough to clear the trees, and the landing gear struck about three trees before the aircraft dropped into the woods, striking tree limbs on the way down. The passenger did not notice any significant change in engine speed before the collision. The passenger egressed his seat; however, he was unable to walk and was met by first responders and transported to a local hospital.

The passenger's wife was outside her home at the time of the accident. She noticed that the aircraft was flying "pretty low," and she stated that "it looked like they were flying barely high enough to go over the woods behind my house." She heard the aircraft striking tree limbs, followed by the sound of a "horrific" crash. She called 911 after asking a neighbor, who was an emergency room physician, to find the crash site.

Several local residents observed the aircraft in flight and noted that it was flying at a low altitude. One of these witnesses reported that the aircraft was "barely over the tree tops" and another reported that it appeared to be about 20 ft above the trees.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Sport Pilot
Age: 58, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: None None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/07/2017
Flight Time:  90 hours (Total, all aircraft), 90 hours (Total, this make and model)

The pilot, who was seated in the front cockpit seat, held a sport pilot certificate. He did not hold nor was he required to hold a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate. According to his pilot logbook, he had logged about 90 hours of total flight experience, all in Buckeye powered parachutes.

According to FAA records, on September 24, 2016, the pilot violated a temporary flight restriction (TFR) while flying the powered parachute near Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. The TFR was established for a University of Tennessee football game. The aircraft was observed inside the TFR, at less than 1,000 ft above the ground, heading north to south. The pilot was not communicating with air traffic control and did not have an operating transponder.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BUCKEYE AVIATION
Registration: N4017L
Model/Series: DREAM MACHINE NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Powered Parachute
Year of Manufacture: 2005
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Special Light-Sport
Serial Number: 16469
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 11/01/2016, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 700 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 139 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: ROTAX
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 582E
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 66 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  None

The single-engine, tandem-cockpit powered parachute incorporated a fixed, tricycle landing gear. It was equipped with a Rotax 582E, two-stroke, two-cylinder reciprocating engine rated at 66 horsepower. Examination of maintenance records revealed that it was manufactured in 2005 and had accumulated about 139 hours since new. A condition inspection was completed on November 1, 2016.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: TYS, 979 ft msl
Observation Time: 1553 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 115°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 6°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Powell, TN (None)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Powell, TN (None)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1415 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), Knoxville, Tennessee, was located about 9 miles east-southeast of the accident site. The TYS weather at 1553 included wind calm, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, temperature 24°C, dew point 6°C, and altimeter setting 30.01 inches of mercury.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 35.871389, -84.156944 (est)

The wreckage of the powered parachute was found in a wooded area about 880 ft northeast of the passenger's residence. The elevation at the accident site was about 100 ft higher than the elevation at the passenger's residence. All structure and components of the powered parachute were accounted for at the accident site. The powered parachute was found in the upright position. There was no fire.

The tubular metal cart was buckled or bent in several places. The fixed landing gear remained attached to the cart. The parachute wing and lines were adjacent to the cart and were entangled with broken tree branches. Continuity from the parachute to the cockpit flight controls was established. Both occupants were wearing helmets at the time of the accident, and an intercom system was installed.

The engine mounts were broken. The three-blade composite propeller remained attached to the engine, and the outer section of each blade was broken and splintered. Continuity from the cockpit controls to the engine was established. The 8-gallon fuel tank contained about 4 gallons of fuel, and no leaks were observed.

The spark plugs were removed and examined. They appeared normal in color and wear when compared to a Champion spark plug inspection chart. The ignition leads were undamaged. The exhaust manifold did not appear to completely cover the cylinder exhaust ports; however, no evidence of exhaust leakage was found. The propeller was turned by hand, and no internal restrictions were noted. Compression and suction were observed on both cylinders.

The propeller blades were removed to prepare for a test run of the engine. The throttle was found in the full forward position. It was retarded to idle for the test run. The engine was equipped with a manual pull starter. The engine started on the second pull and ran smoothly and without hesitation. No leaks were observed at the exhaust manifold. The engine was run at no higher than idle power due to the impact damage to the cart and the lack of an intact propeller. The engine run was discontinued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge after about 2 minutes. Postaccident examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of a preimpact mechanical malfunction or anomaly.

Medical And Pathological Information

The Knox County Regional Forensic Center, Knoxville, Tennessee, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries, and the manner of death was accident.  

Toxicological testing of the pilot was performed by a private laboratory designated by the medical examiner. Testing was negative for ethanol and major drugs of abuse, and 2% carbon monoxide was detected in blood.







NTSB Identification: ERA17FA144
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 02, 2017 in Knoxville, TN
Aircraft: BUCKEYE AVIATION DREAM MACHINE, registration: N4017L
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


On April 2, 2017, about 1532 eastern daylight time, a Buckeye Aviation Dream Machine, N4017L, collided with trees and terrain near Knoxville, Tennessee. The powered parachute was substantially damaged. The sport pilot was fatally injured, and one passenger was seriously injured. The powered parachute was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local, personal flight. The flight originated at a private, grass airstrip about 1444.


The passenger reported that the preflight portion of the flight was uneventful. The takeoff was accomplished on a grass airstrip and the flight departed to the west. About 45 minutes later, the pilot overflew the passenger's residence. Subsequently, the pilot maneuvered the powered parachute to the east, over rising terrain and trees. The aircraft did not seem to be climbing quickly enough to clear the trees and the landing gear struck about three trees before the aircraft dropped into the woods, striking tree limbs on the way down. The passenger egressed his seat; however, he was unable to walk and was met by first responders and transported to a local hospital. The passenger further stated that he was not aware of any problems with the engine prior to the accident.


All structure and components of the powered parachute were accounted for at the accident site. The powered parachute was found in the upright position in a forested area. There was no fire. The landing gear remained attached to the frame. The tubular frame was buckled or bent in several places. The parachute and lines were adjacent to the airframe, and were entangled with broken tree branches. Continuity from the parachute to the cockpit flight controls was established. Both occupants were wearing helmets at the time of the accident and an intercom system was installed.


The engine mounts were broken. The three-bladed composite propeller remained attached to the engine, and the outer sections of each blade were broken and splintered. Continuity from the cockpit controls to the engine was established. The 8-gallon fuel tank contained about 4 gallons of fuel.


The pilot, who was seated in the front cockpit seat, held a sport pilot certificate. He did not hold a Federal Aviation Administration medical certificate. According to his pilot logbook, he had logged about 90 hours of total flight experience, all in Buckeye powered parachutes.


The single-engine, tandem-cockpit powered parachute incorporated a fixed, tricycle landing gear. It was equipped with a Rotax 582-series, two-stroke, twin-cylinder reciprocating engine rated at 66 horsepower. Examination of maintenance records revealed that it was built in 2005 and accumulated about 139 hours since new.

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