Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Trixy Princess, N743SS: Accident occurred August 10, 2015 near Midland Airpark (KMDD), Texas


The sport pilot was operating the gyroplane near its maximum gross weight on a hot day. He taxied the gyroplane to a position north of the runway intersection and then performed a normal takeoff to the south. During the initial climb, the gyroplane began to lose airspeed. The pilot tried to regain airspeed by lowering the nose, but the airspeed continued to decrease. The pilot conducted a forced landing in a park, during which the gyroplane impacted the ground hard and rolled over on its right side.

Examination of the gyroplane, the engine, and other systems revealed no evidence of any preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The density altitude was calculated to be 5,850 ft, which would have degraded the gyroplane's climb rate by 75 percent. It is likely the pilot failed to adequately prepare for the flight and did not account for the effects of high density-altitude conditions, high gross weight, and reduced engine performance and that these factors degraded the gyroplane's climb performance such that the pilot was unable to maintain a positive climb rate.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's inadequate preflight planning during which he failed to account for the high-density altitude conditions and high gross weight, which degraded the gyroplane's climb performance and resulted in a hard landing. 


Climb rate - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Performance calculations - Pilot (Cause)
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
High density altitude - Effect on equipment (Cause)

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lubbock, Texas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Midland, TX
Accident Number: CEN15LA350
Date & Time: 08/10/2015, 1300 CDT
Registration: N743SS
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (partial)
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 10, 2015, about 1300 central daylight time, a Dennis, Jal R, Trixy Princess, gyroplane, N743SS, impacted terrain 1 mile south of the Midland Airpark (MDD), Midland, Texas. The pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries. The gyroplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, tail surfaces, and rotor mast. The gyroplane was registered to and operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The gyroplane was departing MDD at the time of the accident.

A witness on the airport watched the gyroplane taxi to the runway intersection and takeoff. He said the temperature was 95-degrees Fahrenheit (F), and the passenger appeared to weigh in excess of 250 lbs. The witness also reported there was a sign posted at the runway intersection that read "No intersection takeoff."

The pilot said that the gyroplane was full of fuel and near the maximum gross weight when he began the takeoff at 50 knots and climbed to about 100 feet above ground level. The pilot then noticed that the airspeed had decayed to about 40 knots and he lowered the nose in an attempt to regain forward airspeed, but the gyroplane would not climb and would not accelerate. After making several turns at low altitude to avoid trees and other obstructions the airspeed was then about 30 knots and the pilot reduced engine power to make an off-airport forced landing in a city park. The gyroplane landed on the rear wheels first, bounced, and impacted on the nose gear. The nose gear separated, and the pilot lost directional control. The gyroplane then rolled to the right, the main rotor blades struck the ground, and the gyroplane came to rest on its right side. There was no fuel spill and no postimpact fire.

The passenger said they taxied onto the runway, "traveled a little ways," made a U-turn and stopped on the right side of the runway where the pilot engaged the rotor. The pilot told him that the rotor had to reach 200 rpm. The passenger watched the gauge on the top left of the pilot's seat back reach 200 rpm and the gyroplane took off heading south. After crossing a street, the gyroplane made a right turn and began descending toward a park. Just above the ground the passenger heard the pilot say, "Too heavy, too heavy." The passenger added that the gyroplane impacted the ground initially on the rear main landing gear and then "snapped" forward, rolled to the right, and skidded on the right side for about "6 to 8 feet," before coming to a stop.

Witnesses at the scene reported the engine was operating when the airplane impacted the ground.

An examination of the gyroplane, the gyroplane's engine, and other systems revealed no preimpact anomalies.

The gyrocopter was a Trixy Aviation Products GmbH (Austria) "Princess" model, and described as their top model, which is basically designed to operate with a closed cabin. This model, however, can be converted with an optional kit into a gyrocopter to fly with an open cabin. The aircraft is typically powered by a Rotax 912 engine; however, the accident aircraft engine had been modified by the addition of twin turbochargers to it.

At 1255 the Automated Surface Observation System at MDD reported wind 110 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 97 degrees F, dew point 55 degrees F, and altimeter 30.05 inches of Mercury. The airpark's elevation was 2,803 ft. mean sea level. The density altitude was calculated as 5,850 ft.

Per the Koch Chart in Federal Aviation Administration Pamphlet 8740-2, Density Altitude, the gyroplane's climb rate would have been decreased by 75 percent at the calculated density altitude. The pamphlet states that because high density altitude has particular implications for takeoff/climb performance and landing distance, pilots must be sure to determine the reported density altitude and check the appropriate aircraft performance charts carefully during preflight preparation. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Sport Pilot
Age: 31, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Gyroplane
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Sport Pilot None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/13/2015
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 80 hours (Total, all aircraft), 50 hours (Total, this make and model), 30 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 20 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 6 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: JAL R DENNIS
Registration: N743SS
Aircraft Category: Gyroplane
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: JDG2013USANA1
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/10/2015, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1236 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 21 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 105 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: ROTAX
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 912 TI
Registered Owner: JAL R DENNIS
Rated Power: 130 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: KMDD, 2803 ft msl
Observation Time: 1255 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 351°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 36°C / 13°C
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility: 10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 110°
Visibility (RVR): 
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Midland, TX (MDD)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Midland, TX (MDD)
Type of Clearance: Unknown
Departure Time: 1300 CDT
Type of Airspace: 

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 2803 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 16
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3977 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:  32.023611, -102.098611 (est)

No comments: