Saturday, February 24, 2018

Ercoupe 415-C, N99716: Accident occurred February 19, 2017 in Dawsonville, Dawson County, Georgia


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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, 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


http://registry.faa.gov/N99716




Location: Dawsonville, GA
Accident Number: ERA17LA109
Date & Time: 02/19/2017, 1215 EST
Registration: N99716
Aircraft: ERCOUPE 415
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Collision during takeoff/land
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On February 19, 2017, about 1215 eastern standard time, an Ercoupe 415-C, N99716, was substantially damaged during a precautionary landing to a road near Dawsonville, Georgia. The private pilot sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a visual flight rules flight plan had been filed for the personal flight that was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed from Jackson County Airport (JCA), Jefferson, Georgia, about 1100, with the intended destination of Barwick LaFayette Airport (9A5), LaFayette, Georgia.

According to the pilot, he had recently purchased the airplane and was flying it back to his home airport. In the day and a half prior to the accident flight, the pilot cleaned oil from underneath the airplane three separate times. When he examined the engine to determine where the oil was leaking from, he only noted oil coming from the crankcase breather tube. In addition, on the afternoon prior to the accident, he checked the oil level after a morning flight and noted the oil level was down "7 ounces" from 3.5 quarts.

Then, prior to the accident flight, he added 1/2 quart of oil to bring the oil level up between 3.5 and 4 quarts. About 30 minutes after he departed, the pilot noticed the oil pressure was dropping. He reduced engine power and turned the airplane toward Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport (GVL), Gainesville, Georgia. He watched the oil pressure continue decrease and decided to perform a precautionary landing on a road. During the landing, the left main landing gear and nose landing gear contacted a grass area to the left of the road. The airplane skidded across the road until it impacted a tree and came to rest in a ditch. The pilot then egressed from the airplane with minor injuries.

During an interview with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot stated that the oil pressure never went to zero and the engine was not running erratically when he made the decision to reduce engine power and perform a precautionary landing. The only indication of an issue was the loss of oil pressure and that there were no issues with oil temperature.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1955 and was powered by a Continental Motors C75 series, 75-horsepower engine. According to airplane maintenance logbooks, an annual inspection was performed on September 4, 2016, at a total time in service of 1,880 hours. In addition, the most recent recorded oil change occurred at that time and the oil screen was cleaned with no metallic debris noted. According to the engine manufacturer, the maximum engine oil sump capacity was 4.5 quarts. In addition, the minimum idling oil pressure was 10 psi and the oil pressure at cruise was between 30 psi and 35 psi.

Examination of the airplane by an FAA inspector revealed that both wings sustained substantial damage and fuel was noted leaking from the wings. Examination of the engine revealed a hole in the oil sump consistent with impact damage, and oil was noted coming from the crankcase breather tube. In addition, oil was noted on the bottom of the airplane from the nose to the empennage.

Additional examination of the engine was performed at a salvage facility in Griffin, Georgia, under the supervision of an FAA inspector. The oil level was noted at 3.5 quarts before the engine run. The engine was started with no hesitation and was able to maintain an oil pressure of 45 psi. The engine was operated for about 10 minutes at various power settings. To duplicate the loss of oil pressure, 1 quart of oil was added to the engine, bringing the level up to 4.5 quarts, and it was restarted. The engine operated, the oil pressure was noted as 45 psi, however, after about 5 minutes, the oil pressure began to decrease slowly. The oil pressure settled at 25 psi for a few seconds, then gradually increased back to 45 psi, and remained there until the engine was shutdown.

According to an academic paper written by an engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology titled "Engine Lubrication Oil Aeration," it stated that "if the oil level is too high there is a possibility of interaction between the sump oil and the rotating crankshaft that can cause air bubbles to become entrained in the oil and increase the aeration level."



Pilot Information


Certificate: Private
Age: 69, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Sport Pilot With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/10/2012
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/06/2017
Flight Time: 515 hours (Total, all aircraft), 3 hours (Total, this make and model), 515 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: ERCOUPE
Registration: N99716
Model/Series: 415 C
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1946
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 2339
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 09/04/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1320 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 27 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1880 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: CONT MOTOR
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: C-75-12
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 75 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: GVL, 1275 ft msl
Observation Time: 1142 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 14 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 107°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2800 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 9°C
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3400 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots, 340°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV): 
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: JEFFERSON, GA (JCA)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Destination: LAFAYETTE, GA (9A5)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 1100 EST
Type of Airspace:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 34.338333, -84.091944



NTSB Identification: ERA17LA109
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 19, 2017 in Dawsonville, GA
Aircraft: ERCOUPE 415, registration: N99716
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 February 19, 2017, about 1215 eastern standard time, an Ercoupe 415-C, N99716, was substantially damaged during a precautionary landing to a road near Dawsonville, Georgia. The private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a visual flight rules flight plan had been filed for the personal flight that was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed from Jackson County Airport (JCA), Jefferson, Georgia, about 1100, with the intended destination of Barwick LaFayette Airport (9A5), LaFayette, Georgia.


According to the pilot, he had recently purchased the airplane and was flying it back to his home airport. Prior to the flight, he added 1/2 quart of oil to bring the oil level up between 3.5 and 4 quarts. About 30 minutes after he departed, the pilot noticed the oil pressure was dropping. He reduced engine power and turned the airplane toward Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport (GVL), Gainesville, Georgia. He watched the oil pressure decrease until it reached zero, therefore, he decided to perform a precautionary landing on a road. During the landing, the left main landing gear and nose landing gear contacted a grass area to the left of the road. The airplane skidded across the road until it impacted a tree and came to rest in a ditch. The pilot then egressed from the airplane without injury.


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the airplane was manufactured in 1955 and was powered by a Continental Motors C75 series, 75-horsepower engine. According to airplane maintenance logbooks, an annual inspection was performed on September 4, 2016, at a total time in service of 442 hours. In addition, the most recent recorded oil change occurred at that time and the oil screen was cleaned with no metallic debris noted.


Examination of the airplane by an FAA inspector revealed that both wings incurred substantial damage and fuel was noted leaking from the wings. Examination of the engine revealed a hole in the oil sump, and oil was noted coming from the crankcase breather tube. In addition, there were approximately 3 quarts of oil in the engine.


The engine was retained for further examination.

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