Friday, September 07, 2018

Hooley Jet Eze, N815EY: Fatal accident occurred September 01, 2018 near Covington Municipal Airport (M04), Tipton County, Tennessee

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Memphis, Tennessee

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Covington, TN
Accident Number: ERA18FA240
Date & Time: 09/01/2018, 1720 CDT
Registration: N815EY
Injuries:1 Fatal 
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On September 1, 2018, about 1720 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built JETEZ, N815EY, was destroyed when it experienced an in-flight breakup and impacted terrain while maneuvering at low altitude near Covington Municipal Airport (M04), Covington, Tennessee. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated by the pilot as a personal flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight.

According to a witness, the purpose of the flight was to observe the two canard jets based at the airport in-flight together. He reported that the accident airplane departed prior to the other jet from runway 19, climbed to about 1,000 ft above ground level (agl), then started a descending 270° turn. The airplane crossed over the middle of M04, about 200 ft agl, at an estimated speed of 200 to 210 knots, in a level pitch and bank attitude. Shortly after the airplane crossed the runway, he observed the left wing and winglet "oscillate" about 5 times and then the left wing "exploded." He then observed pieces of the airplane falling, the airplane pitched up about 90°, the right wing separated, and the airplane descended into a cotton field. He reported that the engine "sounded fine."

According to a second witness, he observed the airplane cross over the airport about 200 ft agl. He stated the engine sounded as it "was not at idle," and it "had power." After the airplane flew over the airport, he continued watching the airplane to his left, observed a "gentle pull-up" to the point where he could see the canard located on the forward part of the fuselage. At this time, he noticed a "wave like movement" or a "wiggle" in the left wing and then the "left wing failed at mid-span." Subsequently, the airplane pitched up "violently," the right wing "snapped off," and numerous pieces departed the airplane as it "tumbled down to the left" and impacted terrain. He then observed fire and smoke. The witness reported that he held an airline transport pilot certificate.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airmen records, the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane multi-engine land rating, and a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and lighter-than-air balloon ratings. He also held a flight instructor certificate for airplane single and multi-engine. He held type ratings for the A-320, BA-3100, EMB-120, and the SF-340, and a repairman experimental aircraft builder certificate for the accident airplane as well as a DR-107 experimental amateur-built airplane. The pilot was issued an FAA first-class medical certificate on March 22, 2018. At that time, the pilot reported civil flight experience that included 22,000 total hours and 5 hours in preceding 6 months.

According to FAA airworthiness records, the airplane was a two-seat original design composite, canard style airplane, manufactured by the pilot. It was powered by a modified GE-T58-8B turbine engine. The airplane was issued a special airworthiness certificate on June 30, 2014. The airplane was designed with blended composite winglets that were integral to a C-channel wing spar.

The weather conditions reported at M04, at 1715, included visibility of 10 statute miles, few clouds at 5,000 ft and 5,500 ft above ground level, wind 130° at 6 knots, temperature 31°C, and dew point 23°C.

The airplane's fuselage came to rest inverted in a flat cotton field oriented on a magnetic heading of 065°, about 0.50 nautical miles northeast of M04. The airplane sustained extensive impact damage, and evidence of a post-impact fire was observed. All major components of the airplane were accounted for along the airplane's flight path. Fragments of the outboard portion of the left wing and winglet were found separated from the left-wing root, earliest in the debris field, about 1,000 ft from the fuselage. Moving forward in the debris field, fragments of the outboard portion of the right wing and winglet were found separated from the right-wing root, about 870 ft from the fuselage.

The nose landing gear separated from the fuselage and examination revealed it was in the retracted position. The main landing gear separated from the fuselage and was found about 100 ft forward of the fuselage. Examination of the restraint system buckles found next to the fuselage revealed they were latched. Fragments of the canard were found separated from the fuselage in the debris path. The engine had separated from the engine mounts and was found with the fuselage.

Flight control continuity could not be established from the control surfaces to the cockpit area, as they had separated from their attachments and the cockpit section was destroyed by the post-crash fire. Examination of the left wing revealed that it separated from the fuselage into multiple fragments. Multiple pieces of the blue foam wing core separated from inside of the wing and were scattered in the along the flight path. The left aileron fragmented and separated from the wing. The left rudder was found in one piece and separated from the winglet, and its flight control cable had separated and was consistent with tensile overload.

The right wing separated from the fuselage into multiple fragments. The right aileron was found separated from the wing and was in one piece. The right rudder separated from the winglet and was found in one piece.

The engine was visually inspected, and no signs of foreign object debris damage was observed. The inlet variable guide vanes were intact and displayed rotational scoring. The alternator and belt, starter, and tail cone sustained impact damage. The exhaust section and tail cone were free of debris. The second stage turbine vanes were intact when examined.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: LANCE M HOOLEY
Model/Series: JETEZ
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: KM04, 280 ft msl
Observation Time: 1715 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 23°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 5000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 130°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Covington, TN (M04)
Destination: Covington, TN (M04)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: On-Ground
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  35.586389, -89.578333

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Lance Hooley, 59, of Kissimmee, FL, passed away on Saturday, September 1st.  

Memorial services will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 8th at the Covington Funeral Home chapel.  

The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the funeral home.

Lance was a captain with JetBlue Airways, a founding member of the Jet Guys of Covington and a U. S. Air Force Veteran.  He is survived by his wife, Janet Hooley of Kissimmee.  

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any memorials be made to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Covington Animal Rescue Effort (C.A.R.E.), or Pilots and Paws (

COVINGTON – At a press conference Monday afternoon investigators explained what led to Saturday's fatal plane crash. 

The plane, built with a Covington-based team, went down in a cotton field approximately 2,000 yards east of the airport after its left wing separated from the aircraft in-flight. Witnesses said a fire followed the crash. 

Its pilot and owner, Kissimmee, Fla. resident Lance Hooley, was performing a low pass near the airport, from which the flight originated, said the National Transportation Safety Board's Adam Gerhardt, who is the investigator in charge.

"The core reason for our investigation is to determine what happened but, more importantly, why the accident happened for safety purposes and to issue safety recommendations to aviation industry to prevent future accidents," said Gerhardt.

The agency will be investigating "the man, the machine and the environment," he continued, noting the investigation will cover everything from the pilot and his challenges to the plane's design and the weather conditions.

"The airplane was a turbine, or jet-powered, experimental home build design. It was a canard airplane, which is an airplane where they move the elevator that controls the front of the aircraft and it's a design that numerous airplanes have. This airplane was a unique airplane that will, obviously, be the subject of our investigation." 

Hooley was a JetBlue pilot and certificated to pilot the Jet Eze. He took his first flight lesson at age 14 and funded his private pilot's license by a newspaper delivery route. 

He was inspired to fly because of his father's career as an Air Force pilot who flew a tour in Korea and two tours in Vietnam, he told Sport Aviation magazine. 

After riding his bike 12 miles to the airport – he didn't have his driver's license until two days later – his first solo was on his 16th birthday in 1976.

He later spent four years in the Air Force and built several kit planes before the Jet Eze, which took 13 years from start to finish.

In features with Kitplanes magazine in 2017 and 2018, he said his original plans were to build a Long Eze until Covington's Robert Harris, the founder and owner of Jet Guys and whom Hooley called his mentor, gave him a different idea.

"Robert suggested using current information and technology instead of 1977 when the plans came out," Hooley said. "From then on, this airplane was not a Long Eze ... it became my design." 

The team made many modifications to the original plans – making it taller than a Long Eze, lengthening and widening the fuselage, using a modified center spar and wing from the E Racer, moving the gears so that it sits on three wheels with no pilot inside, installing a jet engine with 840 pounds of thrust and more – which were detailed in the article. 

"The goal was to have a simple jet which flies like a Long Eze. Goal achieved. It's simple to operate but the systems to achieve this ended up being rather complex," Hooley told Kitplanes. "It comes off at 80 knots when heavy and over the fence at 80 knots on all landings. It's not harder to land than a piston type aircraft, just different because of the engine. The time lag from idle to power can be up to 4 seconds. It just takes planning."

Hooley debuted the plane at the Sun ’n Fun International Fly-in and Expo in April 2017. In April 2018, he won an award at the event for Best Owner Design in the Homebuilt category, which he said was a team effort.

Hooley said, "A friend of mine said, 'More people have climbed Mt. Everest than have built their own jet.' Humbling."

The remnants of the plane were removed from the crash site Monday afternoon and are being housed in a secured facility. 

The NTSB will remain in town for several more days and is expected to release a preliminary report in 10 days. The investigation will not be fully completed for 12-24 months, Gerhardt said. 

"The most important part of the process is looking at the perishable evidence. So, evidence with the passage of time is going to get more difficult for us to examine, that's why we're here."

The Tipton County Sheriff's Office has been assisting with the investigation.

"I'd like to thank the Tipton County Sheriff's Office for tremendous support. They've helped us out here with our work here on site," said Gerhardt.

Original article ➤

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