Saturday, August 18, 2018

Zenith STOL CH750, N328SK: Accident occurred August 11, 2018 near Napa County Airport (KAPC), California

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

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Napa, CA
Accident Number: WPR18TA223
Date & Time: 08/11/2018, 1056 PDT
Registration: N328SK
Aircraft: Zenair ZENITH STOL CH750
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 11, 2018, about 1056 Pacific daylight time, an experimental, amateur built Zenith CH-750 airplane, N328SK, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Napa County Airport (APC), Napa, California. The commercial pilot/owner and his pilot-rated passenger were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed at APC about the time of the accident. The local flight had originated from APC, and was returning when the accident occurred.

According to the pilot, who was also the builder of the airplane, the airplane was for sale, and the accident flight was a demonstration/familiarization flight for a potential buyer. The pilot reported that the potential buyer had requested that the pilot conduct slow flight, stalls, and other "steep maneuvers" that required pitch attitudes in excess of those that the pilot experienced during his typical flights. After an unspecified amount of time conducting these maneuvers in the local area, the two decided to return to APC for landing and takeoff demonstrations. At some point during the approach, the engine lost all oil pressure, and stopped producing power shortly thereafter. The pilot initially attempted to glide to the airport, but then realized that the airplane was unable to reach APC. The pilot then decided to land on a nearby levee. The airplane touched down on the levee, and the initial rollout was satisfactory. However, due to wind and the levee width, the airplane veered off the levee, and damaged the wing and fuselage. The airplane came to rest on the slope of the levee, about 0.6 miles west of the APC runway 6 threshold.

The airplane was equipped with a Belgian ULPower brand piston engine. The pilot reported that he believed that the unusual (for him) pitch attitudes during the demo flight had caused the oil to be vented overboard via the oil breather assembly. He also reported that he had had other problems previously with the engine, and that he had sent the engine back to the manufacturer for replacement of several components, including all four cylinder heads, one cylinder, and all piston rings.

Examination of the airplane and engine by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the engine was void of lubricating oil. Significant oil residue was observed in the region of the starter ring gear and its drive penetration of the engine case. The engine did not exhibit any other evidence of non-impact related damage or failures. Separately, communications with the US-based engine manufacturer's representative indicated that there were no records of the engine being returned to the manufacturer.

FAA records indicated that the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument airplane ratings. He also held a repairman experimental aircraft builder certificate valid for the accident airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued in December 2014.

FAA records indicated that the airplane was manufactured in 2014. The pilot-provided flight and maintenance records were all essentially devoid of entries.

APC was situated at an elevation of 36 ft above mean sea level, and was equipped with three paved runways, designated 06/24 and 18/36 L and R. APC was equipped with an air traffic control tower, which was staffed and operating at the time of the accident.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Zenair
Registration: N328SK
Model/Series: ZENITH STOL CH750 No Series
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: APC, 36 ft msl
Observation Time: 1054 PDT
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 14°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots / , 220°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.98 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Napa, CA (APC)
Destination: Napa, CA (APC)

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:  38.200000, -122.291667 (est)

A pilot and his passenger were reportedly uninjured after the small plane they were flying unexpectedly landed near the runway at Green Island Road in Napa County on Saturday morning, according to the Napa County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said the pilot and passenger are uninjured thanks to the “quick thinking” of the pilot who, after realizing there was a mechanical failure, attempted to land the plane on a levee. As the plane was coming to a stop, however, deputies said, the wind picked up and swept the small plane halfway into a nearby marsh.

There was significant damage to the plane, which is owned by the pilot.

Original article can be found here ➤

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