Saturday, February 24, 2018

Diamond DA40 F Diamond Star, N419FP, registered to and operated by Utah State University: Fatal accident occurred July 18, 2016 in Logan, Cache County, Utah

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah
Lycoming Engines; Colorado
Diamond Aircraft Industries Inc
Utah State University; Logan, Utah

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Logan, UT
Accident Number: WPR16FA144
Date & Time: 07/18/2016, 1105 MDT
Registration: N419FP
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Aerodynamic stall/spin
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The private pilot was practicing flight maneuvers required to obtain a commercial pilot certificate during daytime visual flight rules weather conditions. A witness saw the airplane flying in slow counterclockwise circles while descending with the engine power at idle. He reported strong gusting winds at the time. Radar data showed the airplane completing four counterclockwise orbits and then beginning a descending clockwise orbit. The last two data points indicate a rapid, vertical descent greater than 6,000 ft per minute. Wreckage and impact signatures revealed that the airplane impacted the ground in a nose-low, near-vertical attitude with little to no forward movement, consistent with an aerodynamic stall/spin. Examination of the airframe and engine found no abnormalities that would have precluded normal operation.

Weather conditions in the accident area included strong gusty winds, low-level wind shear, clear air turbulence near the terrain, and possible mountain wave activity at mountain top level. The weather information that the pilot obtained before departure indicated wind at 6 knots and no gusts. No records were located to indicate that the pilot had obtained an official weather briefing before departure, thus he may not have been aware of the gusting winds and the potential for low-level wind shear and turbulence which could have contributed to his failure to maintain aircraft control. The radar data, the witness's description, and the damage to the airplane are consistent with the pilot exceeding the airplane's critical angle of attack while maneuvering, resulting in the airplane entering an aerodynamic stall with a subsequent spin and descent to ground impact. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's exceedance of the airplane's critical angle of attack while maneuvering in turbulence and gusty wind conditions, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall/spin.


Angle of attack - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Turbulence - Response/compensation (Cause)
Gusts - Response/compensation (Cause)
Windshear - Response/compensation (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Turbulence encounter
Loss of control in flight
Aerodynamic stall/spin (Defining event)

Uncontrolled descent

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

On July 18, 2016, about 1105 mountain daylight time, a Diamond DA40, N419FP, impacted terrain while maneuvering near Logan, Utah. The private pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by Utah State University as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from Logan-Cache Airport (LGU), Logan, Utah, about 1034.

According to the pilot's flight instructor, the purpose of the flight was for the pilot to practice maneuvers required to obtain a commercial pilot certificate. These maneuvers included lazy 8's, 8's on pylon, steep turns, chandelles, steep spirals, and stalls.

A witness located about 1/3 mile from the accident site observed the airplane flying in slow counterclockwise circles while descending with the engine power at idle. He assumed the pilot was practicing stalls. He reported "unusual" weather that day; the wind was gusting 30-40 mph; however, in between the gusts, it was "dead calm." As the airplane continued to execute counterclockwise turns, the witness noticed it "rocking quite a bit as it descended through the gusts until it disappeared" from his sight.

A review of radar data showed that the airplane departed from runway 35 at LGU, turned south, and proceeded toward the practice area. At 1043:36, the airplane started maneuvering in the practice area at 7,300 ft mean sea level (msl). During the next 5 minutes, the airplane's altitude varied between 7,300 ft msl and 7,500 ft msl while it executed 2 counterclockwise orbits. It then completed 2 more orbits at altitudes between 7,800 ft msl and 8,200 ft msl. At 1101:48, the airplane started a clockwise orbit about 0.8 mile west of the previous flight path at 7,900 ft msl. At 1104:12, the airplane completed 3/4 of a clockwise orbit at 8,100 feet msl. At 1104:48, the airplane descended to 7,700 ft msl, and, at 1105:00, the airplane descended to 7,600 ft msl. The last recorded data point at 1105:12 showed the airplane at 6,300 ft msl. The wreckage was located on the ground below the last recorded data point.

At 1121, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received signals from an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) near the accident site. About 2 hours later, a search and rescue team located the wreckage about 2 nautical miles east of the ELT signal's location. 

Frank Marino De Leon Compres

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 21, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied:  Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 Unknown
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/18/2014
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:   (Estimated) 109.9 hours (Total, all aircraft), 60.1 hours (Total, this make and model), 40 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 12.6 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

The pilot, age 21, held a Dominican Republic private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. He did not have a Federal Aviation Administration medical certificate; all limitations and restrictions on the Dominican Republic pilot license applied. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated about 109.9 hours of total flight time as of July 15, 2016. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: DIAMOND AIRCRAFT IND INC
Registration: N419FP
Model/Series: DA40 F NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 40.FC019
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/23/2016, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2535 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 6201 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: C91A installed, activated, aided in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A4M
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  Pilot School (141) 

The four-seat, single-engine, low-wing, fixed-landing-gear airplane, serial number 40.FC019, was manufactured in 2006. It was powered by a Textron Lycoming O-360-A4M engine, serial number L-40653-36E, rated at 180 horsepower. The airplane was also equipped with a Sensenich two-bladed fixed-pitch propeller, model 76EM8S10-0-63. A review of maintenance records showed that the most recent annual inspection was completed May 16, 2016, at a total aircraft time of 4,599.9 hours. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBMC, 4226 ft msl
Observation Time: 1655 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 254°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C / 0°C
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 17 knots/ 25 knots, 180°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.06 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: LOGAN, UT (LGU)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: LOGAN, UT (LGU)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1034 MDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Frank Marino De Leon Compres

The last moments: Compres showed up for his solo flight training with a big smile on his face. He was there early to check the maintenance of the plane before he took off.  Before he left, one of the flight instructors asked Compres which air training area he was headed to. Compres said he was headed toward the Southern flight training area in the Hyrum-Paradise area.  Frank told the flight instructor, "I’m going Paradise”

The National Weather Surface (NWS) Analysis Chart for 1200 indicated a surface low pressure center southwest of the accident site near Salt Lake City, Utah, and a surface high pressure center in northwestern Colorado. At 0900, a warm front had just passed north of the accident site. With a warm frontal boundary moving northward past the accident site before the accident time and a surface low pressure and surface high pressure center areas relatively close together at the accident time, gusty low-level wind conditions would be expected over the mountainous terrain.

The NWS Storm Prediction Center Constant Pressure Charts depicted low-level troughs just southwest and northeast of the accident site. Troughs typically act as lifting mechanisms where enhanced lift, gusty winds, fronts, clouds, and precipitation can occur. Troughs and a frontal boundary close to the surface and near mountainous terrain also act to aid in the mixing of low-level air, allowing for the possibility of low-level wind shear (LLWS) and turbulence.

The closest weather station was an automated weather observing system (AWOS) located at Brigham City Airport (BMC), Brigham City, Utah, about 10 miles west-southwest of the accident site. At 1115, BMC reported wind from 180° at 17 knots with gusts to 24 knots. At 1135, BMC reported wind from 190° at 16 knots with gusts to 24 knots.

LGU, located 12 miles north of the accident site, had an automated surface observing system (ASOS). At 1051, LGU reported wind from 180° at 5 knots. At 1151, LGU reported wind from 230° at 14 knots with gusts to 31 knots.

Ogden-Hinckley Airport (OGD), Ogden, Utah, located 25 miles south-southwest of the accident site, had an ASOS with reports supplemented by air traffic control personnel. At 1053, OGD reported wind from 160° at 21 knots with gusts to 27 knots. At 1153, OGD reported wind from 160° at 23 knots with gusts to 30 knots.

The observations from BMC, LGU, and OGD surrounding the accident time indicated visual flight rules ceilings and visibilities. Each site had a south to southwest surface wind with wind gusts as high as 31 knots around the accident time. With the strong south to southwest wind over the terrain, low-level turbulence and LLWS conditions would be expected.

The closest official upper air sounding to the accident site was from Salt Lake City (SLC), Utah, located 50 miles south-southwest of the accident site. The sounding wind profile indicated a surface wind at SLC from 180° at 9 knots with an increase in wind speed to 28 knots by 4,900 ft. LLWS was identified between the surface and 5,000 ft, and several layers of clear air turbulence were indicated between the surface and 14,000 ft.

The area forecast issued at 0730, valid at the accident time, forecasted scattered clouds at 15,000 ft msl with a southwest wind gusting to 25 knots. The NWS Office in Salt Lake City issued an area forecast discussion at 0944 that discussed gusty southerly winds at the Salt Lake City Airport Terminal with possible wind gusts up to 35 mph.

According to the flight school's records, the pilot checked the weather observations for LGU. The observation recorded on the weight and balance sheet was made at 0951 and included the following weather information: wind from 330° at 6 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature of 25°C, dew point temperature of 6°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.08 inches of mercury. No records were located to indicate that the pilot obtained a weather briefing from an official weather briefing source.

For further weather information, refer to the weather study prepared by a National Transportation Safety Board staff meteorologist that is available in the public docket for this investigation. 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 41.597500, -111.847778 (est) 

The accident site was located on the side of a hill at an elevation of 4,714 ft msl. The damage to the airplane was consistent with terrain impact in a nose-low, vertical descent with little to no forward movement, and the airplane came to rest upright on a heading of about 093° magnetic. The first point of impact identified was a 1.5-ft-deep crater consistent with propeller impact . The main wreckage consisted of the engine, cockpit, fuselage, and empennage.

The upper skin of the left wing was separated and located about 24 ft from the main wreckage. The left wingtip was attached to the upper skin portion of the wing. The rest of the left wing was fragmented; the forward and aft spars exhibited multiple deformations; and the left flap and aileron were separated from the wing. The left fuel tank was resting lengthwise along the fuselage and exhibited hydraulic crushing. The left main landing gear was attached to the wing.

The right wing remained partially attached to the fuselage. The leading edge of the wing was deformed, and the wing exhibited aft accordion crushing. The bottom surface of the wing along the leading edge was separated and deformed downward. The fuel tank was pushed aft. The right flap and aileron remained attached to the wing. The right main landing gear was separated and crushed under the right wing.

The two-blade propeller remained attached to the engine. One blade was bent about 30° aft and slightly twisted, and the other blade remained straight. Both blades exhibited chordwise scratching and nicks. The propeller spinner exhibited significant crushing.

The engine remained attached to the firewall and was resting upwards on the ground. The instrument panel remained partially attached to the firewall and was mostly destroyed by impact forces.

The front seats were crushed rearward into the back seats. The forward windscreen was fragmented, and the frame structure surrounding the forward fuselage and the cockpit area was bent, broken, and fragmented.

The forward section of the empennage remained partially attached to the aft section. The horizontal stabilizer, vertical stabilizer, elevator, and rudder remained attached to the empennage. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit controls to all moveable flight control surfaces.

The airplane wreckage was further examined at the facilities of Precision Air Power, Woods Cross, Utah, on July 20, 2016. The examination revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction that would have precluded normal operations. For further information about the accident site and wreckage examinations, refer to the reports included in the public docket for this investigation. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Office of the Medical Examiner at Utah Department of Health, Salt Lake City, Utah, completed an autopsy on the pilot and concluded that the cause of death was blunt force injuries. The Federal Aviation Administration's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. The results of the testing were negative for carbon monoxide, ethanol, and listed drugs.

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA144
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 18, 2016 in Logan, UT
Aircraft: DIAMOND AIRCRAFT IND INC DA40 F, registration: N419FP
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 July 18, 2016 about 1121 mountain daylight time, a Diamond DA40, N419FP, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Logan, Utah. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Utah State University as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan filed. The local flight originated from Logan- Cache Airport (LGU), Logan, Utah at about 1245.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that at 1121 they received signals of an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) ping in the vicinity of latitude/longitude position N41°35'54.87" W111°53'13.03". About 2 hours later, a search and rescue team located the wreckage 1.78 nautical miles east of the ELT signal at the elevation of 6,300 feet mean sea level . The small area of the wreckage footprint indicated that the airplane impacted terrain in a near horizontal attitude along a 093-degree magnetic bearing line. 

After the on-site documentation, the wreckage was recovered to a secured facility for further examination.

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