Saturday, October 20, 2018

Vickers Supermarine Spitfire, registered to Comanche Fighters LLC and operated by the pilot, N5TF: Accident occurred July 04, 2017 at Marana Regional Airport (KAVQ), Pima County, Arizona

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location:  Marana, AZ
Accident Number: WPR17LA141
Date & Time: 07/04/2017, 0905 MST
Registration: N5TF
Aircraft: VICKERS Supermarine Ltd
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Runway excursion
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 4, 2017, about 0905 mountain standard time, a Vickers Supermarine Ltd Spitfire V airplane, N5TF, was substantially damaged during landing at Marana Regional Airport (AVQ), Marana, Arizona. The airline transport pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to Comanche Fighters LLC and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal cross-country flight originated from the Las Cruces International Airport (LRU), Las Cruces, New Mexico, about 0850.

In a statement submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge, the pilot reported that after making a normal landing on runway 12, and as the airplane slowed on rollout, it started to drift to the left. When rudder input was ineffective [to counter the left drift] due to the slow speed, right brake was applied. The pilot stated that the brake grabbed enough to start the airplane's nose to swing to the right. At this point left rudder and brake were applied to counter the right swing, however, rudder input was again ineffective and left brake provided no stopping action. The pilot opined that without left brake there was nothing to stop the right swing due to the free swiveling tailwheel. The airplane subsequently departed the right runway edge, impacted soft dirt, which resulted in the collapse of the left main landing gear. The airplane came to rest upright and on its nose. The left wing was substantially damaged as a result of contact with terrain. The pilot mentioned that upon activation of the left brake the pressure felt normal but no braking action was received. The pilot added that the brake acted like it was hot, even though this was the first activation during the landing.

On August 8, 2017, under the supervision of a Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness inspector, a postaccident examination of the brake system by maintenance personnel familiar with the vintage airplane was performed in a secured facility at AVQ.

The inspector reported that the airplane's brake system is an air system that works from an engine driven compressor, which maintains system pressure at 300 psi. There is also a ground service filler for nitrogen that is to be added before flight if the system loses pressure while the engine is not running. The inspector further reported that the yoke has a squeeze handle to operate both brakes. If the left rudder pedal is moved, the system will move the brake pressure to the left wheel. If you move the right rudder pedal the system will move brake pressure to the right wheel. This happens through the brake relay valve. There is also a preset pressure of between 80 and 120 psi to each wheel.

The inspector reported that when the examination began the system was at zero psi, and that it was normal for the system to bleed down to zero when not being operated, especially if the flaps are in the down position (flaps were in the down position at this time). When the brake system was serviced to approximately 170 psi to test the system, it tested normally. The pressure to each wheel was normal at 110 psi. The inspector stated that during the examination the brake system appeared to be working as designed. Additionally, the inspector reported that the tail wheel system was tested and appeared to also function normally.

The inspector mentioned that in speaking with pilots who flew the Spitfire, the airplane is very difficult to land on a runway, and that it was made to land in a field or grass [airstrip]. Additionally, he was told that when the brakes get hot the brake system can get very spongy. The inspector also mentioned that the pilot said he had lost the left brake. A survey of the runway revealed a 200-ft skid mark from the left main tire. There was no observable damage to the tire that was consistent with the left brake having locked up. Wind at the time of the accident was reported to be 230° at 3 knots.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport
Age: 68, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Center
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/05/2015
Occupational Pilot:
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/04/2017
Flight Time:  22000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 52 hours (Total, this make and model), 16239 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 56 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 27 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: VICKERS
Registration: N5TF
Model/Series: Supermaine Ltd Spitfire V
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1943
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: JG891
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/30/2017, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 6785 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 72 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1338.7 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Rolls Royce
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: Merlin 35
Rated Power: 1470 hp
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: AVQ, 2031 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time: 0855 MST
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 3 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 230°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C / 11°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Las Cruces, NM (LRU)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Marana, AZ (AVQ)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0850 MDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Marana Regional (AVQ)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 2031 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 12
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 6901 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude:  32.409444, -111.218333 (est)

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA141
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, July 04, 2017 in Marana, AZ
Injuries: 1 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 July 4, 2017, about 0900 mountain standard time, a Vickers Supermarine Spitfire, N5TF, was substantially damaged following a loss of control and runway excursion during landing at Marana Regional Airport (AVQ), Marana, Arizona. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal cross-country flight was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and a flight plan was not filed. The flight departed Las Cruces International Airport (LRU), Las Cruces, New Mexico, about 0900 mountain daylight time.

In a telephone interview with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge, the pilot reported that after landing on runway 12 the airplane veered to the left, at which time he corrected back to the right. As the airplane continued to the right the pilot attempted to correct back to the left. However, the left brake was ineffective, which resulted in an excursion off the right side of the runway and into some soft dirt. The airplane subsequently came to rest on its nose, having incurred damage to the landing gear, fuselage and propeller. The reported wind about 5 minutes prior to the accident was from 230 degrees at 3 knots.

The airplane was recovered to a secured hangar for further examination.

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