Sunday, August 5, 2018

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec D, N22AM: Accident occurred March 27, 2016 in Danville, Virginia


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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Richmond, Virginia

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/N22AM




Location: Danville, VA
Accident Number: ERA16LA142
Date & Time: 03/27/2016, 1636 EDT
Registration: N22AM
Aircraft: PIPER PA 23-250
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 1 Minor, 3 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On March 27, 2016, about 1636 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-23-250, N22AM, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a highway near Danville, Virginia. The private pilot sustained minor injuries and the three passengers were not injured. The airplane was privately owned and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) were reported in the area of the accident. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight that originated at the Charleston International Airport (CHS), Charleston, South Carolina, about 1330, and was destined for Martin State Airport (MTN), Baltimore, Maryland.

According to air traffic control (ATC) transcripts, before departure the controller advised the pilot of 700 ft cloud bases and asked him if he was instrument flight rules qualified. The pilot stated that he was, but the airplane was not, and that he wanted to depart under visual flight rules. Shortly after takeoff the pilot had difficulty maintaining his ATC-assigned headings and stated he was "between layers." About 90 minutes into the flight the controller asked the pilot if he was returning to his destination, the pilot replied "no, I'm in the middle of the clouds, what's my current heading?" The controller then asked if he needed assistance, and the pilot stated that he did not and that he would make a turn to get back on course. The pilot then notified ATC that he had an intermittent engine and requested to divert to the nearest airport.

A few minutes later, the pilot advised ATC that both engines were functioning again. The pilot was repeatedly unable to maintain a heading and began receiving no-gyro radar vectors. The controller asked the pilot if he could determine if he had a vacuum failure, the pilot stated, "how would I do that?" The controller made repeated requests to the pilot to maintain altitude and the pilot then reported to ATC he was in IMC and to "help me all you can." About 2 hours into the flight the pilot elected to divert to Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA), Roanoke, Virginia. About 2 hours 30 minutes into the flight the pilot reported "mayday mayday I've just lost my engines." The pilot later stated he was using an application on a personal electronic device to navigate.

The pilot reported that the flight departed with 5 hours of fuel onboard for the estimated 2-hour, 30-minute flight. After switching fuel tanks, and turning on the fuel pumps, power was briefly restored to the right engine, followed by an abrupt loss of power in both engines. The pilot then performed a forced landing on the highway. During the landing, the airplane impacted a tree, and came to rest inverted in a grassy area along the road.

Photographs of the wreckage taken by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed damage to both wings and fuselage, the airplane came to rest inverted. The right wing, outboard of the right engine was folded under the right engine, and the right wing tip separated from the wing, along with the right outboard fuel tank.

Examination of the wreckage and engine revealed impact damage to the right engine, the left engine was undamaged. No fuel was found in the right fuel tanks, which were compromised during the impact sequence. The left inboard fuel tank had a trace amount of fuel, and there was no blighting of the grass around the wreckage. Fuel lines from the left and right fuel pump to the fuel injector were secure and intact, no fuel was observed when the lines were disconnected from the fuel flow transducer. Fuel lines from the left and right output fuel injector to the input fuel flow divider were secure and intact, no fuel was observed when the lines were disconnected.

Due to the lack of integrity of the right fuel tanks, and the minimal quantity of fuel in the left tanks, the quantity of fuel when the accident occurred could not be determined.

The airplane was equipped with two Lycoming TIO-540, 250 horsepower, six-cylinder piston engines. The right engine No. 1 cylinder rocker cover and connecting rods sustained impact damage, separating them from the cylinder. A borescope was used to examine the cylinder, the exhaust valve head was laying inside the cylinder, preventing full 360-degree manual rotation. Valve train continuity was established on cylinder Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

On the left engine, the rocker covers were removed, none of the rockers, valve springs, and valve seats showed any signs of preimpact mechanical damage. The engine was manually rotated, continuity of the drive train, crankshaft, and camshaft were established, and thumb compression obtained on all cylinders.

The magnetos were placed on a test stand, all six leads on each of the four magnetos produced a spark. The left and right vacuum pumps thrust coupling were fractured, and exhibited rotational scoring consistent with the pumps failing and continued operation of the engines.

The airframe and engine logbooks were not available for review; however, the mechanic who inspected the airplane about 3 weeks before the accident provided a statement. He reported that the engines, propellers, and airframe were inspected in accordance with an annual inspection. He stated that the airplane was taxied around the airport for several hours, and that all systems were tested for proper operation.

The closest weather reporting facility was Danville Regional Airport (DAN), Danville, Virginia, about 14 miles east of the accident site. At 1653, weather included wind from 080 at 5 knots; visibility 9 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, overcast at 400 ft; temperature, 13° C; dew point, 12° C; and altimeter setting 30.14 inches of mercury. The pilot did not obtain a weather briefing before departing.

The pilot's total flight experience at the time of the accident could not be reconciled. At the time of his most recent application for an FAA medical certificate on June 30, 2015, he reported 2,200 total hours of flight experience. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 66, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/30/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  2200 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N22AM
Model/Series: PA 23-250 250
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1970
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 27-4501
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/11/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT:  C91  installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: TI0-540 SER
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 310 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KDAN, 571 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 14 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2053 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 102°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  9 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 400 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 80°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.14 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 12°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: CHARLESTON, SC (CHS)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: BALTIMORE, MD (MTN)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1330 EDT
Type of Airspace: 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 3 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 3 None
Latitude, Longitude:  36.623333, -79.625278 (est)













NTSB Identification: ERA16LA142
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 27, 2016 in Danville, VA
Aircraft: PIPER PA 23-250, registration: N22AM
Injuries: 1 Minor, 3 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 March 27, 2016, about 1636 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-23-250, N22AM, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a highway 10 miles east of Danville, Virginia. The private pilot sustained minor injuries, the three passengers were not injured. The airplane was operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions were reported in the area of the accident. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight that originated at the Charleston International Airport (CHS), Charleston, South Carolina, at about 1330, and was destined for Martin State Airport (MTN), Baltimore, Maryland.

The pilot stated that the flight departed with 5 hours of fuel onboard for the estimated two and a half hour flight. After about one hour the pilot reported to air traffic control that he had lost his directional gyro and attitude indicator. While diverting to Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA), Roanoke, Virginia, the right engine abruptly lost power. After switching fuel tanks, power was briefly restored to the right engine, followed by an abrupt loss of power in both engines. The pilot then performed a forced landing on the highway. During the landing, the airplane impacted a tree, and came to rest inverted in a grassy area along the road.

On scene examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed damage to both wings and fuselage. The right wing, outboard of the right engine was folded up over the right engine, and the right wing tip separated from the wing, along with the right outboard fuel tank. Damage to the right engine precluded a cursory check for continuity of the powertrain, and there was no evidence of rotational damage to the propeller. Functional testing of the magnetos for both the right and left engines showed spark at all terminal leads. Thumb compression was obtained on all but one of the left engine cylinders. One blade of the left propeller displayed a curled tip. No fuel was found in the right tanks, the left inboard tank had residual fuel, and there was no blighting of the grass around the wreckage.

The closest weather reporting facility was Danville Regional Airport (DAN), Danville, Virginia, about 14 miles east of the accident site. At 1653, weather included wind from 080 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 9 statute miles; clouds and sky condition, overcast at 400 feet; temperature, 13 degrees C; dew point, 12 degrees C; and a barometric altimeter setting of 30.14 inHg.

The airplane and engine were recovered and retained for further examination.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

SL is soooo lucky ... So many self induced close calls and still alive.