Monday, February 12, 2018

Rutan VariEze, N944X, registered to and operated by the pilot: Accident occurred February 11, 2018 at Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO), Los Angeles County, California

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Los Angeles, California 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Marcarian Technologies Inc:

Location:  Santa Monica, CA
Accident Number: WPR18LA089
Date & Time: 02/11/2018, 1258 PST
Registration: N944X
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On February 11, 2018, at 1258 Pacific standard time, an experimental amateur-built Roger V Shanks (Rutan Aircraft Factory) VariEze, N944X, struck a hangar during its landing rollout at Santa Monica Municipal Airport, Santa Monica, California. The private pilot and pilot rated passenger were not injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the nose structure and canard. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The local flight departed Brackett Field Airport, La Verne, California, about 1240. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that the landing approach to runway 21 was uneventful, and that he landed about 200 ft beyond the runway numbers. As soon as the nosewheel touched down, the pilot applied brake pressure and the airplane began to swerve to the left. He released the brakes and countered with right rudder, and then applied brake pressure again, but the airplane continued to veer left. He then proceeded to alternately cycle the brakes and right rudder as the ground roll progressed. The airplane had not appreciably slowed down, and, aware that the terrain dropped off beyond the runway end, he decided to apply full braking. The airplane then veered rapidly to the left, crossed over the adjacent taxiway, and struck a hangar.

The airplane was equipped with a free-castering nosewheel, with ground steering accomplished through differential braking once rudder effectiveness diminished at lower speeds. The design did not incorporate conventional toe-brakes, but instead brake pressure was applied directly via the rudder pedals once they had been pushed beyond the pedals' rudder travel limits.

Skid marks on the runway indicated that the airplane departed the runway surface just before taxiway B2, about 500 ft short of the runway end, and 1,300 ft before the end of the runway apron where the terrain dropped away (Photo 1,2). Runway 21 slopes downhill, with a gradient of 1.2%.

Photo 1 - Skid Marks on Runway

Photo 2 - Collision with Hangar 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: SHANKS V ROGER
Registration: N944X
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
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: KSMO, 174 ft msl
Observation Time: 1302 PST
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 9°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots, 240°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.87 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: LA VERNE, CA (POC)
Destination: Santa Monica, CA (SMO) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 34.012500, -118.453889

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