Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Pazmany PL-2, N186EJ, registered Progenitech LLC: Fatal accident occurred July 14, 2017 at San Gabriel Valley Airport (KEMT), El Monte, Los Angeles County, California

Jeffrey Ying


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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Los Angeles, California
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Final 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/N186EJ 

Analysis 

About 15 minutes after arriving at the airport, the private pilot departed on a local flight. A witness reported that, shortly after takeoff, the engine "sputtered and quit." The airplane appeared to continue climbing straight ahead to an altitude about 200 ft above ground level, then initiated a left turn as if attempting to return to the runway. The airplane reached an approximate 90° angle of bank and the nose dropped before the airplane descended almost vertically to ground contact, consistent with an aerodynamic stall/spin.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The propeller did not exhibit indications of rotation at the time of impact. The fuel selector was set to the left tank position. Both left and right fuel tanks were breached and devoid of fuel; however, the asphalt surrounding the wreckage was discolored consistent with fuel spillage. The gascolator bowl contained some fuel; however, the carburetor bowl and accelerator pump well were devoid of fuel. Examination of the fuel system revealed no evidence of blockage that would have prevented fuel flow to the engine. The quantity and distribution of fuel on board the airplane at the time of the accident could not be determined; however, the lack of fuel in the carburetor bowl and accelerator pump is consistent with a fuel starvation event. The reason for the fuel starvation could not be determined based on the available information. Following the loss of engine power, the pilot attempted to return to the runway; however, the airplane did not have sufficient altitude to complete the 180° turn. During the turn, the pilot failed to maintain sufficient airspeed, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and entering an aerodynamic stall and spin. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation for reasons that could not be determined based on the available evidence. Also causal was the pilot's decision to return to the runway following the loss of engine power, and his failure to maintain airspeed during the turn, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall/spin. 

Findings

Aircraft
Fuel - Not specified (Cause)
Airspeed - Not attained/maintained (Cause)
Angle of attack - Capability exceeded (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Initial climb
Fuel starvation (Defining event)
Loss of engine power (total)
Loss of control in flight


Location: El Monte, CA
Accident Number: WPR17FA152
Date & Time: 07/14/2017, 0932 PDT
Registration: N186EJ
Aircraft: JANSEN PAZMANY PL 2
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel starvation
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 14, 2017, at 0932 Pacific daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Jansen Pazmany PL-2, N186EJ, impacted the ground following a loss of engine power after takeoff from San Gabriel Valley Airport (EMT), El Monte, California. The private pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to Progenitech, LLC, and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight, which was originating at the time of the accident.

According to airport gate entrance records, the pilot arrived at the airport at 0914. Information from the airport control tower indicated that the pilot contacted ground control for a taxi clearance at 0928, and contacted departure control at 0930.

A witness reported that he watched the airplane take off; when it was between 50 and 75 ft above the runway, the engine "sputtered and quit." The airplane continued to climb straight ahead for a brief time, then appeared to initiate a left turn back toward the runway at an altitude about 200 ft above ground level. The witness reported that the airplane reached an approximate 90° angle of bank and its nose dropped as it descended almost vertically to ground contact. 



Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 63, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/07/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  4200 hours (Total, all aircraft)

In addition to the pilot's various ratings, in 2010, he accomplished an around-the-world flight in a single engine airplane. The pilot's logbook was not recovered for examination; during the pilot's most recent medical examination he reported 4,200 total hours, and 200 hours in the previous six months. 



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: JANSEN
Registration: N186EJ
Model/Series: PAZMANY PL 2
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1979
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 186
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats:  2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/08/2016, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:  451 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer:  LYCOMING
ELT: C91  installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-320 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 160 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: KEMT, 296 ft msl
Observation Time: 1645 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 155°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C / 16°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 230°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: El Monte, CA (EMT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: El Monte, CA (EMT)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0931 PDT
Type of Airspace: Class D 



Airport Information

Airport: SAN GABRIEL VALLEY (EMT)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 295 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 19
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3995 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing 



Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  34.086111, -118.034722 (est) 

The first identified point of contact was a ground scar with debris from the left wing tip and fuel tank. The second ground scar was from the propeller spinner, and exhibited an indentation consistent with a propeller strike. There were no indications of torsional bending of the propeller. The debris path extended along a magnetic heading of 106°. The main wreckage came to rest about 66 ft east of the first point of impact, with all debris contained within about 500 square ft. The fuel selector was set to the left fuel tank position. Fuel was drained from the gascolator; its color and odor was consistent with 100LL aviation fuel. The sample contained no debris or water.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

The engine remained attached to the damaged engine mounts and there was no evidence of catastrophic malfunction. The top spark plugs were removed and exhibited normal operating signatures when compared to the Champion 'check-a-plug' chart. The rocker covers were removed and the engine crankshaft was rotated by hand; thumb compression was established in proper firing order. In addition, the rockers appeared to move normally. The carburetor was displaced from the engine. The throttle control was attached, and the mixture cable arm was separated consistent with impact. The carburetor bowl was removed and no fuel was present. The float pontoons were intact and did not show evidence of hydrodynamic crushing. In addition, the accelerator pump well was devoid of fuel. The gascolator bowl was removed and about 1 ounce of fuel remained. The fuel selector was removed and air was blown through it; the left fuel tank was selected. Air was blown through the fuel system from the wings to the engine; all fuel lines and fuel tank vents were clear of debris and internal blockages. Air was blown through the fuel line between the fuel pump outlet and the carburetor inlet with no anomalies noted.

Although the right and left wing fuel tanks were heavily damaged and contained no fuel, the asphalt surrounding the wreckage was discolored in a manner consistent with fuel spillage. 



Medical And Pathological Information

The Department of the Medical Examiner-Coroner from the County of Los Angeles, California, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was listed as blunt trauma.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed forensic toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot with negative results for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol. Specimens tested positive for valsartan, a blood pressure medication. According to the FAA, this medication is generally acceptable for use by airmen provided the underlying condition is well-controlled and there are no adverse side effects. 

Additional Information

A pamphlet published by the FAA Safety Team titled, "Aircraft Control After Engine Failure on Takeoff" stated, "Studies have shown that startle responses during unexpected situations such as a powerplant failure during takeoff or initial climb have contributed to loss of control of aircraft…Research indicates a higher probability of survival if you continue straight ahead following an engine failure after takeoff. Turning back actually requires a turn of greater than 180 degrees after taking into account the turning radius. Making a turn at low altitudes and airspeeds could create a scenario for a stall/spin accident."



NTSB Identification: WPR17FA152
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 14, 2017 in El Monte, CA
Aircraft: JANSEN PAZMANY PL 2, registration: N186EJ
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 14, 2017, at 0930 Pacific daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Jansen, Pazmany PL-2, N186EJ, impacted the ground after experiencing a total loss of engine power during the initial climb from the San Gabriel Valley Airport (EMT), El Monte, California. The airplane was registered to Progenitech LLC and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The private pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. 

A witness reported that he observed the airplane taxi and takeoff a few minutes after the pilot had arrived at the airport. Other witnesses reported they watched the airplane takeoff; when it was about 50-75 feet above the runway, the engine sputtered and lost complete power. The airplane continued straight for a brief time, and to some, it appeared as if the airplane was climbing. The airplane made a steep left turn; during which, the airplane's nose dropped to near vertical and it descended to the ground. 

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

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