Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Cessna 172M Skyhawk, N7CF: Fatal accident occurred October 13, 2017 in Ramsey, Anoka County, Minnesota

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Analysis 

After takeoff, the pilot proceeded south until reaching the Mississippi River when he proceeded to fly along the river at a low altitude. As the airplane approached a bend in the river, the pilot entered a shallow left turn to follow the river. The airplane subsequently struck power lines spanning the river that were located about 200 yards beyond the bend. Ground-based video footage and witness statements indicated that the airplane was at or below the height of the trees lining both sides of the river shortly before encountering the power lines. One witness initially thought that the pilot intended to fly under the power lines due to the low altitude of the airplane. Several witnesses also noted that the sound of the engine seemed normal and steady before the accident. A post-recovery examination of the airplane did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction.

The power lines were below the level the trees on either side of the river. Red aerial marker balls were installed on the power lines at the time of the accident. Weather conditions were good at the time of the accident; however, the sun was about 9° above the horizon and aligned with the river. It is likely that the position of the sun in relation to the power lines hindered the pilot's ability to identify the hazard as he navigated the bend in the river at low altitude. In addition, the location of the power lines relative to the river bend minimized the reaction time to avoid the lines.

FAA regulations prohibit operation of an aircraft less than 500 feet above the surface in uncongested areas unless approaching to land or taking off, and at least 1,000 feet from obstacles in congested areas. They also prohibit operations in a reckless manner that endanger the life or property of another. Based on the available information, the airplane was less than 100 feet above the river and within 400 feet of the residences located along the river during the final portion of the flight.

The pilot's flight instructor described the pilot as "reckless" because of his habit of low-level flying.

While the location of the bend in the river and the position of the sun relative to the power lines may have hindered the pilot's ability to see and avoid the lines, it was the pilot's decision to operate the airplane along the river at a low altitude contrary to applicable regulations and safety of flight considerations that caused the accident. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: 

The pilot's decision to fly along the river at a low altitude contrary to applicable regulations and safety of flight considerations which resulted in the impact with the power lines. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's inability to see the and avoid the power lines due to their proximity to a bend in the river and the position of the sun at the time of the accident. 

Findings

Aircraft
Altitude - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)
Monitoring environment - Pilot (Factor)
Personality - Pilot

Environmental issues
Wire - Contributed to outcome (Cause)
Light condition - Effect on personnel (Factor)
Wire - Ability to respond/compensate (Factor)
Light condition - Ability to respond/compensate (Factor)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying
Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Chad Rygwall loved flying his plane, family members said.

Jill Rygwall

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Minneapolis, Minnesota
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Chad J. Rygwall: http://registry.faa.gov/N7CF 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Location: Ramsey, MN
Accident Number: CEN18FA011
Date & Time: 10/13/2017, 1734 CDT
Registration: N7CF
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 13, 2017, at 1734 central daylight time, a Cessna 172M airplane, N7CF, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with power lines and the Mississippi River near Ramsey, Minnesota. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Princeton Municipal Airport (PNM), Princeton, Minnesota, about 1705.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control radar position data depicted an airplane on a visual flight rules (VFR) transponder code near PNM. The initial contact was recorded at 1708 and the airplane subsequently proceeded south. At 1731, the airplane turned toward the southeast for approximately 1 mile before reversing course toward the northwest and proceeding along the Mississippi River. The final data point was recorded at 1733; the airplane was about 0.25 mile east of the Ferry Street Bridge and about 2.5 miles southeast of the power lines at that time. No altitude (mode C) data was available.

Ground-based video footage, taken by a witness located about 200 yards east of the accident site, depicted the airplane flying at low altitude over the Mississippi River. The airplane appeared to be near treetop level proceeding northwest along the river. It appeared to be intact and in a shallow left turn apparently to follow a bend in the river at that location.

Witnesses reported observing the airplane strike power lines as it flew along the river. Several witnesses noted that the airplane was below the level of the trees that lined both sides of the river. One witness initially thought that the pilot intended to fly under the power lines due to the low altitude of the airplane. Several witnesses also noted that the sound of the engine seemed normal and steady before the accident. 


Chad Rygwall on the day he got his pilot’s license.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 47, 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 3 Waiver Time Limited Special
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/24/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 
Flight Time:  300 hours (Total, all aircraft), 230 hours (Total, this make and model), 270 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft) 

The pilot's private pilot certificate was issued in November 2012. On the application for that certificate, he reported 70 hours total flight time. His pilot logbook was reportedly kept in the airplane; it was not recovered. On his most recent application for an FAA airman medical certificate in March 2017, the pilot reported a total civilian flight time of 300 hours, with 35 hours flown within the preceding 6 months.

The pilot's flight instructor informed FAA inspectors that the pilot was "reckless" when he flew because of his habit of low-level flying. The instructor stated that he had counseled the pilot not to fly in such a manner. The pilot's father also informed FAA inspectors that his son was in the habit of flying at low altitudes along the Mississippi River.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N7CF
Model/Series: 172M M
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1975
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Utility
Serial Number: 17265261
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/02/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2299 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 8 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3359.5 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT:  C91A installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A1A
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

A review of the airplane maintenance records revealed that the originally installed engine, a 150-horsepower Lycoming O-320-E2D, was removed and the accident engine, a 180-horsepower Lycoming O-360-A1A, was installed in December 1984. The originally installed propeller was also changed at that time. The engine/propeller retrofit was completed under Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) SA807CE. In December 1986, the airframe was converted from a tricycle landing gear configuration to a tail wheel landing gear configuration under STC SA5433SW. In May 1996, an 18-gallon supplemental fuel tank was installed in the aft baggage compartment under STC SA615NE.

Maintenance records indicated that testing and inspection of the transponder was completed in September 2010. The records contained no subsequent entries related to the transponder. The pilot's mechanic confirmed that the airplane was equipped with automatic pressure altitude reporting equipment having Mode C capability. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MIC, 869 ft msl
Observation Time: 1753 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 160°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C / -2°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 10°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Princeton, MN (PNM)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Princeton, MN (PNM)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1705 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

According to data obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory, at the time of the accident, the sun was approximately 9° above the horizon to the west-southwest (249°). Sunset was at 1831 on the day of the accident.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  45.218056, -93.433889 

The airplane impacted a set of four power lines installed across the Mississippi River. The river was about 190 yards wide and was bordered by wooded areas on both sides at that location. The power lines were located about 200 yards west of a bend in the river. The river was oriented to the northwest (about 300°) east of the bend. West of the bend, the river was oriented to the southwest (about 250°).

The power lines were installed with dual-pole supports on each shoreline. The poles extended about 47 feet above ground level, which was about the height of the trees along either river bank. According to witness statements, the power lines were equipped with red aerial marker balls.

The airplane was recovered from the river two days after the accident; however, the wings and cabin doors had separated from the fuselage and were not recovered. A postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction. A detailed summary of the examination is included in docket associated with the investigation. 

Medical And Pathological Information

An autopsy of the pilot was performed at the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in Ramsey, Minnesota, on October 16, 2017. The pilot's death was attributed to blunt force injuries sustained in the accident. Toxicology testing performed by the FAA Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory was negative for all drugs in the testing profile. 

Additional Information

FAA regulations (14 CFR 91.13) prohibit the operation of "an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another." Furthermore, except when necessary for takeoff or landing, the regulations (14 CFR 91.119) require pilots to maintain an altitude of at least 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a 2,000-foot horizontal radius of the aircraft in congested areas. In uncongested areas, pilots must maintain at least 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, an aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure.

FAA regulations (14 CFR 91.215) require aircraft operated within 30 miles of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from the surface to 10,000 feet mean sea level to be equipped with an operable transponder and Mode C-capable automatic pressure altitude reporting equipment. In addition, the regulations (14 CFR 91.413) specify that a transponder may not be used unless it has been tested and inspected within the preceding 24 months. The accident site was located within 30 miles of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

NTSB Identification: CEN18FA011
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 13, 2017 in Ramsey, MN
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N7CF
Injuries: 2 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 October 13, 2017, at 1734 central daylight time, a Cessna 172M airplane, N7CF, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with power lines and the Mississippi River near Ramsey, Minnesota. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by private individuals as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Princeton Municipal Airport (PNM), Princeton, Minnesota, about 1700.

Ground-based video footage depicted the airplane flying at a low altitude over the Mississippi River about 200 yards east of the accident site. The airplane appeared to be near treetop level proceeding northwest along the river. It appeared to be intact and in a shallow left turn apparently to follow a bend in the river at that location.

Witnesses reported observing the airplane strike power lines as it was flying along the river. Several witnesses noted that the airplane was below the level of the trees, which lined both sides of the river. One witness initially thought that the pilot intended to fly under the power lines due to the low altitude of the airplane. Several witnesses also noted that the sound of the engine seemed normal and steady before the accident.

The airplane impacted a set of four power lines installed horizontally across the river. The lines were installed with dual-pole supports on each shoreline. The supports did not appear to extend above the height of trees along either river bank. According to witness statements, the lines were equipped with red aerial marker balls.

The river was about 190 yards wide in the vicinity of the accident site and was bordered by wooded areas on both sides. The accident site was located near a bend in the river. The video footage and witness statements indicted that the airplane approached from the southeast. The section of the river approaching the bend was oriented to the northwest (about 300 degrees), while the section past the bend was oriented to the southwest (about 250 degrees), requiring an approximate 50-degree left turn to navigate the river. The power lines were located about 200 yards beyond the bend as the airplane proceeded northwest along the river.

According to data obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory, at the time of the accident, the sun was approximately 9 degrees above the horizon to the west-southwest (249 deg). Sunset was at 1831 on the day of the accident.

1 comment:

Jim B said...


Another avoidable accident.