Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six, N4153R, registered to IHAF Flying Mission LLC and operated by the private pilot: Fatal accident occurred May 02, 2018 near Greenwood Lake Airport (4N1), West Milford, Passaic County, New Jersey

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Teterboro, New Jersey
Lycoming; Dallas, Texas
Piper; Wichita, Kansas

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N4153R

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: West Milford, NJ
Accident Number: ERA18FA138
Date & Time: 05/02/2018, 1410 EDT
Registration: N4153R
Aircraft: PIPER PA32
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On May 2, 2018, about 1410 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32-300, N4153R, was destroyed when it impacted terrain at the Greenwood Lake Airport (4N1), West Milford, New Jersey. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight to Orange County Airport (MGJ), Montgomery, New York. The airplane was registered to IHAF Flying Mission LLC and operated by the private pilot. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

A flight instructor located at 4N1, who was also a friend of the pilot stated that he talked with the pilot just before the accident. He stated that the pilot told him that he was having problems with the airplane's engine, and thought it was either the magnetos or the spark plugs. The pilot stated he was going to taxi to the end of the runway and perform an engine run-up. If the engine run-up was successful, he was going to take a short flight to MGJ and then return.

A witness, located 1 mile north of the airport, heard the airplane takeoff and then heard the airplane's engine sputter, then shut off. He then heard the sound of a crash and called 911.

The wreckage was consumed by a postcrash fire and located in a wooded area, about 1,100 ft to the left side of the departure end of runway 24. Tree branches were observed broken descending about a 12° angle and extending approximately 50 ft on a magnetic heading of 110° to the main wreckage. The main wreckage came to rest upright. The instrument panel was consumed by fire and no readable instruments were recovered. Both wings separated from the fuselage and were located about 30 ft behind the fuselage. The wings exhibited minor fire damage. 100LL aviation fuel was found in both wing tanks. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. Control cable continuity was confirmed through breaks, that were consistent with overload separations, to the respective controls.

The engine remained attached to the airframe. The accessories on the rear of the engine were consumed by fire. The propeller blades were both bent aft at mid-blade. Thumb compression was established on all cylinders and a lighted boroscope was used to examine all pistons and valves with no anomalies noted.

The six seat, low-wing, tricycle gear airplane, serial number 32-40468, was manufactured in 1968. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-540-K1A5, 300-horsepower engine, equipped with a two-bladed Hartzell propeller. Family members stated that the maintenance logbooks were carried on the airplane in the luggage compartment. The luggage compartment was consumed by fire and all documents were destroyed.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He held a third-class medical certificate, issued April 27, 2016. At the time of the medical examination, the pilot reported 625 total hours of flight experience. The pilot's logbook was consumed by fire.

The recorded weather at Sussex Airport, located 13 miles northwest, at 1353, was: wind from 220° at 10 knots, gusting to 21 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clear sky; temperature 30° C; dew point 6° C; altimeter 30.02 inches of mercury.

The airframe and engine were retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N4153R
Model/Series: PA32 300
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
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: KFWN, 421 ft msl
Observation Time: 1753 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots/ 21 knots, 220°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: West Milford, NJ (4N1)
Destination: MONTGOMERY, NY (MGJ)

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: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 41.121389, -74.350833 (est)

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


The Rev. Andrew Topp is seen with his Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six. He was killed when the plane crashed  May 2, 2018 in West Milford. 



A pilot killed when his plane went down in West Milford was remembered Thursday as a minister, husband, father of six and humanitarian.

The Rev. Andrew Topp, 59, who was a pastor for more than 20 years at the First Reformed Church of Boonton, had hopped into his single-engine Piper PA-32 to take it for a test run to the Oranges in preparation for a May 13 trip to Haiti to do missionary work, according to Topp's daughter, Erica Fischer-Kaslander, who lives in Haledon.

Topp, who always had a passion for flying and had spoken about it since his father was in the Air Force, obtained his pilot's license about 15 to 18 years ago, Fischer-Kaslander said. His desire to get the license was motivated by the humanitarian work he did with his non-profit, International Humanitarian Aid Foundation Inc., which he founded in 2007.

His missionary work brought him to almost every country in the world, his daughter said, and he found that having a small plane to deliver supplies quicker was a benefit.

"He was able to reach these remote areas with his plane that larger non-profits couldn't," she said.

Although he had owned different planes over the years, the plane he was flying was the only one he owned currently. On the National Transportation Safety Board aircraft identification system, the tail number on Topp's plane, which is shown in a photo his daughter shared with the New Jersey Herald, was registered to his non-profit.

Fischer-Kaslander said her father had replaced the engine on his plane about three months ago.

Nick Stefano, of Wantage, was friends with Topp when the two were teenagers living across the street from one another in North Haledon.

"He was part of my childhood. It's so hard to think he's not there anymore that I can't talk to him," Stefano said.

The two eventually graduated from high school and went their separate ways, but they always stayed in touch.

"We were talking just a couple weeks ago, and he told me to stop by his church (in Boonton)," Stefano said, adding that Topp shoveled Stefano's mother's driveway in North Haledon a little while back.

Stefano was planning on taking Topp up on his offer and wanted to get into missionary work and animal rescue with him.

Topp was a self-proclaimed animal lover, according to Stefano, and often worked to help rescue animals from high-kill shelters and from natural disasters.

Topp worked closely with Home for Good Dog Rescue, a non-profit in Berkeley Heights, and helped fly supplies to Texas and returned with dozens of dogs after the state was slammed by Hurricane Harvey.

"If your dog arrived in New Jersey by rescue flight, chances are he or she was flown by Andy, as he had spent two years flying more than 300 Home for Good dogs safely home," the group said in a Facebook post Thursday.

Upset that he wasn't able to see his friend one last time, Stefano only had positive memories to share of his childhood friend.

"He was a great man. It's devastating," Stefano said, adding that the world has "certainly lost a great person."

Officials said that Topp's plane went down around 2:38 p.m. Wednesday in a wooded area near the former Jungle Habitat property, which is administered by Ringwood State Park.

The Federal Aviation Administration indicated the airplane crashed shortly after takeoff from runway 24 at the Greenwood Lake Airport.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Just a few years ago, tragedy struck the Topp family when Topp's brother, Bob, died in a motorcycle accident in Kentucky at the age of 60.

Topp, who stored his plane at Greenwood Lake Airport, also organized trips to help aid victims of natural disasters, built orphanages, was a member of Gift of Life and Rotary International District 7490.

"We organized a trip for him to fly to the U.S. Virgin Islands to help assist during Hurricane Maria (in 2017)," Fischer-Kaslander said, adding that she recalls he had to wait out the storm in Florida and ended up flying around the hurricane to reach his destination.

She never flew with him, but would often help him on the ground with organizing supplies.

"We were a great team. I served as his right hand, and my experience working with him actually led me into a career in social work," Fischer-Kaslander admitted.

"My passion, I owe it all to my father," she said. "He was an inspiration."

Although the reality of the crash and the loss of her father was still very raw on Thursday, Fischer-Kaslander said that she intends to carry on her father's legacy and continue with his work.

For more details on Topp's International Humanitarian Aid Foundation, visit http://pastorandy.us.

http://www.njherald.com


Home for Good Dog Rescue co-founder Richard Errico with the Rev. Andrew Topp.

WEST MILFORD — A plane crash near Greenwood Lake Airport on Wednesday afternoon killed the pilot and set a portion of state parkland at the former Jungle Habitat theme park ablaze, police said.

The plane, a single-engine Piper PA-32, crashed in the nearby woods at about 2:30 p.m. after taking off from Greenwood Lake Airport, said a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration. A statement from the state Department of Environmental Protection said the pilot, the lone occupant, died during the crash. His name was not released.

The entrance to the thickly forested former safari theme park was blocked off by local authorities at about 3 p.m. A helicopter was also seen in the area dropping water in an attempt to douse the spreading fire.

Eyewitness reports of smoke to the east of Morsetown Road dovetail with reports from the FAA that the pilot took off in a southwesterly direction before crashing in the state parkland adjacent to the airport.

Steve Woodward, a local flight instructor, said he has been flying out of the airport for five years. At 3,471 feet, the runway would probably seem small to someone who has flown only out of Morristown Airport. However, compared with many local airports, such as Lincoln Park and Andover, it is relatively roomy, he said.

“It’s high in elevation and it’s a little windy, but I’ve been flying for close to 35 years and I’ve been into much trickier airports than Greenwood Lake,” Woodward said. “When it’s windy it can be a little tricky, but I would never call it dangerous.”

Tim Wagner, the manager of Greenwood Lake Airport and a township councilman, had no comment. The airport was closed Wednesday afternoon. Strong wind gusts were reported.

Michael Donovan, a spokesman for Orange and Rockland Utilities, said that when the plane came down it apparently took some power lines along with it. The company subsequently cut power to the circuit, putting roughly 950 customers out of power, the company's outage map showed.

Power was restored by 5 p.m. except for the lights at a nearby ballfield, Donovan said. At that time the FAA closed off the area to the utility employees, so they will return Thursday to finish repairs, Donovan said. 

Mike Venezia, a 30-year resident, said he knew something was wrong when the power went off.

“The power went down and I knew something was going down. It’s really sad. It really is,” he said of the fatal crash.

West Milford police Lt. James DeVore said local officers responded to the crash but turned over the investigation to the State Park Police.

State DEP officials said the New Jersey State Park Police, Bureau of Emergency Response and New Jersey Forest Fire Service responded and remained on the scene, assisted by local police and fire personnel. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will be leading the investigation into the crash, officials said.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.northjersey.com






WEST MILFORD, New Jersey (WABC) --  Authorities say one person was killed in a small plane crash in Passaic County on Wednesday afternoon.

The single-engine private plane took off from Greenwood Lake Airport in West Milford before it went down in a wooded area around 3 p.m.

The victim has not yet been identified.

The crash caused a small brush fire that the Forest Fire Service was working to get under control.

The cause of the crash is not yet known. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://abc7ny.com

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.

Quicksilver Sport MXII, N2812, owned by Sky Knights Flight Club and operated by the pilots: Fatal accident occurred July 08, 2017 in Point Mugu, Ventura County, California

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


Analysis 

The two pilots, who were both qualified to fly the experimental light sport airplane, were conducting a local flight with two other similar airplanes from the same flight club. After takeoff, the three airplanes proceeded to the ocean shoreline and then flew slightly offshore along the coast. The flight was conducted at a low altitude, which, once over the ocean, was about 300 ft. Soon after reaching the ocean, both pilots noted a "skip" in the engine. They decided to climb for safety and turn around to return to their departure airport. Despite moving their respective throttles to the full throttle position, neither pilot was able to obtain full power from the engine to effect a climb, and the engine rpm began slowly decreasing. Because the airplane was no longer able to maintain altitude, control of the airplane was transferred to the pilot who held a flight instructor certificate. Due to the rocky coastline and traffic on the road along that coastline, the pilots determined that they would have to ditch in the ocean. After the ditching, both pilots escaped from the airplane, and, when the airplane began to sink, they began to swim to shore, which was about 200 ft away. Neither pilot appeared injured. No personal flotation devices were aboard the airplane or worn by the pilots. One pilot successfully swam to shore, but the other pilot drowned.

The airplane washed ashore the following morning and was heavily damaged by wave action, contact with rocks, and the salt water immersion. Postaccident examination did not reveal evidence of any preaccident mechanical failures but obscuration or destruction of such evidence due to the ditching and subsequent environmental damage could not be ruled out.

The examination revealed several maintenance-related discrepancies. The type of fuel line clamps used and the installation of the fuel pumps were not in accordance with the engine manufacturer's specifications, and this could have affected fuel delivery to the carburetors. After the accident, the throttle cable was found disconnected from the cockpit control, and it could not be determined whether that was a result of a partial slippage during flight, which would have limited or eliminated pilot control of the engine rpm and power.

Although a similar airplane in the flight did not report any carburetor icing, the symptoms described by the surviving pilot were consistent with carburetor icing, and the ambient temperature and dew point values allowed for the possibility of carburetor icing. Despite such equipment being recommended by the engine manufacturer, the lack of carburetor heat provisions on the accident airplane prevented the pilots from being able to prevent carburetor icing, or counter carburetor icing if it did occur.

Finally, although the engine manufacturer specified an overhaul interval of 300 hours, the flight club elected to adhere to a 450-hour overhaul interval advocated by a repair facility that was not approved by the engine manufacturer. At the time of the accident, the engine was about 127 hours beyond the manufacturer-recommended 300-hour overhaul interval. Although none of these discrepancies discovered during the investigation was able to be definitively linked to the accident, all were potential factors, and all were maintenance-related.

The low glide ratio of the airplane (about 5:1) limited its range in the event of a loss of engine power, reducing the forced landing site options available to the pilots. The forced landing site options were further reduced by the pilots' decision to operate at 300 ft, a very low altitude. The pilots' over-water route and low cruise altitude were reported to be common for pilots in the flight club. Even though the altitude and route combination increased the likelihood of an ocean ditching in the event of a loss of engine power, neither the pilots nor the airplane were equipped for an ocean ditching. Precautions such as higher over-water cruise altitudes and water-ditching equipment, such as personal flotation devices, may have prevented this event from becoming a fatal accident. 

Probable Cause and Findings

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

A partial loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined during postaccident examination in combination with the low cruise altitude selected by the pilots, which resulted in an ocean ditching. The lack of personal flotation devices likely contributed to the drowning of one of the pilots. 

Findings

Aircraft
Altitude - Not specified (Cause)
Life jacket - Not used/operated (Factor)
Fuel system - Incorrect service/maintenance

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Flight crew (Cause)

Environmental issues
Conducive to carburetor icing - Effect on operation
Conducive to carburetor icing - Ability to respond/compensate

Organizational issues
Adequacy of safety program - Operator

Not determined
Not determined - Unknown/Not determined (Cause)

William “Bill” Watson

William “Bill” Watson, a 56-year-old husband and father of one from Agoura Hills, died July 8, 2017 after the Quicksilver Sport MXII in which he was flying ditched in the Pacific Ocean near Mugu Rock. Flying for almost 40 years, this was his passion. He learned to fly small airplanes when he was 18 and went on to fly aerobatic aircraft, skydiving and then he got into ultralights and powered parachutes and light sport aircraft.


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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys, California

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/N2812

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Point Mugu, CA
Accident Number: WPR17FA146
Date & Time: 07/08/2017, 1647 PDT
Registration: N2812
Aircraft: CHICCO MIGUEL E QUICKSILVER SPORT II
Aircraft Damage: Unknown
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (partial)
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 8, 2017, about 1647 Pacific daylight time, a Quicksilver MXL-II Sport experimental light sport airplane, N2812, sustained unknown damage when it ditched in the Pacific Ocean near Point Mugu, California. The two pilots on board escaped from the airplane before it sank. One pilot successfully swam to shore, but the other pilot died during his attempted swim to shore. The airplane was owned by Sky Knights Flight Club (SKFC) and was operated by the pilots under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight that departed from Camarillo Airport (CMA), Camarillo, California, about 1630.

According to the surviving pilot, he and the other pilot were both members of SKFC, which was based at CMA. Each of the pilots was qualified by the club to operate the airplane on his own. The club also owned two other experimental light sport airplanes similar to the accident airplane. These were a Quicksilver Sport IIS airplane, N1712, and a Quicksilver MXL Sport single-place airplane, N7712. On the day of the accident, a total of five persons, including the two accident pilots, planned to fly the three airplanes in loose formation south to the shoreline and then proceed southeast from there for a local flight.

The accident airplane was equipped with side-by-side seats and dual controls. According to the surviving sport pilot, he took the left seat and the other pilot, who was a private pilot and a certificated flight instructor (CFI) for light sport aircraft, took the right seat, but this was not an instructional flight. They departed CMA via the "southeast pattern," which was one of three pre-specified routes to exit the CMA traffic area. They departed with about 10 gallons of fuel on board, and the sport pilot was the pilot flying. He estimated that it took about 15 minutes to reach the shoreline, which was about 7 miles south of CMA. At the shoreline, the three airplanes turned left, which put the shoreline off their left sides.

Shortly after they passed a large rock outcrop known locally as "Mugu Rock," the sport pilot felt a "skip" in the engine. At that time, they were cruising off the shoreline and above the ocean at an altitude of about 300 ft. The skip repeated a few times, and the sport pilot then asked the private pilot whether he felt it too; the private pilot replied in the affirmative. They decided to reverse course and return to CMA and also advised the other two airplanes of their situation and intentions. They reversed course, the engine irregularity continued, and the two agreed that they should climb to gain altitude in case the situation deteriorated. At that time, the sport pilot advanced the throttle to climb, but the rpm only went to about 5,900, instead of the desired target value of 6,200 to 6,300 rpm. The sport pilot asked the private pilot to advance his throttle to increase the rpm. The private pilot pushed on his throttle but was unable to increase the rpm above 5,900. The rpm then slowly decreased. The airplane could not climb and then became unable to maintain altitude. Due to their different experience levels, the two pilots agreed that the private pilot should now become the flying pilot, and a transfer of control was effected.

The rpm continued to decrease slowly over a period of 4 to 5 minutes, and it became apparent to the pilots that they would have to conduct a forced landing. Due to the rocky coast, hilly terrain, and crowded highway that paralleled the shoreline, the pilots realized that they would have to either continue flight to reach a sandy beach or ditch the airplane in the water.

The continued decrease in rpm combined with the lack of a suitable landing location forced the pilots to ditch the airplane just offshore. The airplane touched down slowly and under control, and it initially remained afloat. The two occupants both successfully escaped from the airplane and stayed with it until it began to sink. They then began swimming to shore, which was about 200 ft away. The sport pilot was ahead of the private pilot, and they maintained verbal contact as they made their way to shore. The sport pilot kept verbally checking on the private pilot; initially the private pilot said he was fine, but later during the swim, the private pilot said that he was "getting tired." The sport pilot reached the shore, climbed out onto a rock, and then turned to see that the private pilot was face down in the water and was not moving. A bystander swam to the private pilot and pulled him to shore, where he and the pilot then pulled the private pilot from the water. The sport pilot and the bystander attempted to resuscitate the private pilot, as did the paramedics who arrived shortly thereafter.

At least one of the other two airplanes in the formation orbited the ditching site for a short time, and both of those airplanes returned safely and uneventfully to CMA. Photographs indicated that the accident airplane appeared to remain intact after it ditched and then submerged in the water. The morning after the accident, the airplane was found washed ashore. The airplane incurred substantial damage as a result of exposure to the rocky coast and wave action. The airplane was recovered later that morning and transported to CMA for examination by NTSB and FAA personnel.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Sport Pilot (Left Seat)

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicated that the person seated in the left seat held a sport pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating that was issued in May 2012. He did not hold an FAA medical certificate, nor was he required to hold one to exercise the privileges of his sport pilot certificate. Despite several requests of the pilot, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge was unable to obtain information regarding the pilot's flight experience.

Private Pilot (Right Seat)

FAA records indicated that the person seated in the right seat held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating and a flight instructor certificate with a sport rating. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate, which was issued in April 2008, had expired; he was not required to hold a medical certificate to fly as a sport pilot.

Copies of some of the most recent pages of the private pilot's flight logbook were provided to the investigation. The most recent entry in the flight logbook was dated April 1, 2017. As of that date, the private pilot had logged about 377 total hours of flight experience, including about 64 hours in light sport aircraft. The logbook also indicated that he had logged about 34 hours as a flight instructor. The private pilot's most recent flight review was completed in September 2016.

SKFC Mechanic

One individual at SKFC was primarily responsible for the maintenance and inspection activities on the three SKFC airplanes. He reported that he had been a full-time member of SKFC for about 3 to 4 years and that he was not compensated by SKFC for his services as the SKFC mechanic. He held a private pilot certificate, an aircraft mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings, and a light sport aircraft repairman certificate. In the spring of 2017, he successfully completed two Rotax-approved training courses, one for two-stroke engines and one for four-stroke engines.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a high-wing ultralight-like design with conventional flight controls. The structure consisted of an uncovered aluminum and steel tube framework with two side-by-side seats and a tricycle-configuration wheel landing gear. It was powered by a Rotax 582 model 99-series engine that was mounted atop the airframe in a pusher configuration. The airplane was not equipped with any type of whole-airplane emergency parachute.

FAA records contained conflicting information regarding when the airplane was built. One document indicated that the airplane was built in 2001, while several other documents indicated a 2007 or 2008 build year. The builder of the airplane was a member of SKFC.

The airplane was purchased by and registered to SKFC in April 2013. In June 2013, the airplane was involved in a non-fatal engine power loss accident (NTSB accident WPR13LA318). That power loss was caused by a mechanically deficient muffler.

Maintenance Records Information

Review of the maintenance records indicated that the most recent annual condition inspection was completed in January 2017. As of that inspection, the airframe had a total time (TT) in service of about 3,111 hours, and the engine had a time since major overhaul of about 349 hours.

According to the engine maintenance records, the engine serial number was 4655502. The engine was installed on the airplane on August 23, 2015. The records indicated that at that time the engine had "0 hours since M/O/H" [major overhaul], and that the "Hobbs" hour meter indicated a time of 2,756.7 hours. The records indicated that the previous time on the engine was unknown.

At the time of the accident, the engine had accumulated a TT of 427.9 hours since its most recent overhaul. The Rotax Maintenance Manual (MM) specifies a major overhaul interval of 300 hours.

The 2015 overhaul, as well as a previous 2013 overhaul, were accomplished by a repair facility in Naples, Florida. According to several representatives of SKFC, including the SKFC mechanic, and independently confirmed with the Naples facility, the SKFC-adopted overhaul interval of 450 hours was the interval recommended by that repair facility for Rotax 582-series engines. According to Rotax, that repair facility is not a Rotax-approved service facility for Rotax engines.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1656 automated weather observation from Point Mugu Naval Air Station (NTD), located about 3 miles northwest of the accident site, included winds from 260° at 8 knots, visibility 9 miles, few clouds at 6,500 ft, temperature 25°C, dew point 17°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.81 inches of mercury.

The above temperature and dew point values indicated that the relative humidity was about 60%. When the intersection of the two temperature values was located on an FAA-provided chart that depicted carburetor ice envelopes, the point was in the region denoted as "Serious Icing at Glide Power." When plotted on another FAA-provided icing potential chart, the point was in the region denoted as "carburetor icing possible."

COMMUNICATIONS

The pilots communicated with the CMA air traffic control tower (ATCT) to depart from CMA, and then with the NTD ATCT for clearance to transit south to the east of NTD. The pilots were not in communication with these or any other air traffic facilities at the time of the power loss or ditching.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Summary

The remnants of the airplane were removed from the shore on the morning of July 9, transported to the SKFC hangar, and rinsed with fresh water. Detailed examination of the engine, as well as some airframe components, was conducted by NTSB and FAA personnel at the hangar on July 10, 2017. No evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction was noted during the examination, but it was determined that the ocean immersion and wave action obscured or destroyed a significant amount of evidence.

Airframe

The recovered airframe was a large mass of fractured tubing held together by some connectors, the wing cloth, and numerous structural and control cables. The fuselage and wing structures had lost all their shape due to the numerous fractures and bends of the structural tubing. Some components (such as the instrument panel) were missing, and some (such as the seats, propeller, and fuel tank) sustained scrapes, cracks, dents, or crushing damage. The wing cloth was shredded, and the engine bore numerous impact marks on all exposed sides. Corrosion and salt and sand infiltration were extensive.

The airplane was equipped with a center-mounted overhead console unit that housed several components, including the engine hour meter, electric fuel pump, and electrical switches. Damage to the console precluded reliable determination of the pre-impact settings or functionality of the switches.

Engine General

Because the engine was mounted upright in a pusher-configuration, in this report, left, right, up, down, fore, and aft denote orientation with respect to the airplane's longitudinal axis. Rotax uses the following abbreviations to refer to the cylinder and engine aspects:

- PTO denotes the power take-off end, which is where the propeller gearbox and propeller attach

- MAG denotes the magneto end, which is the opposite end from the PTO.

The engine data plate was no longer attached to the engine, but the engine's appearance and configuration were consistent with a Rotax 582 Model 99 "Blue Head" series liquid-cooled, two-cylinder, two-stroke cycle version, which the maintenance records indicated was installed in the airplane.

The engine remained attached to its mounting pad, which remained attached to the fuselage structure. The propeller hub remained attached to the engine gearbox flange, but all three composite blades were fracture-separated from the propeller hub. The engine exhibited significant impact damage, corrosion, and sand infiltration. The engine could not be rotated manually. There was no external evidence of any catastrophic failure of any engine component.

Engine Controls

Each pilot station was provided with a separate throttle lever located outboard of each seat. A throttle lever was attached to each end of a transversely-mounted control rod. The rod was attached to the fuselage so that in normal operation, it would rotate about the rod's central axis. A single throttle push-pull control cable attached to a fitting near the lateral center of the throttle control rod.

The throttle control rod was partially fracture-separated from its fuselage pivot mount. Both throttle levers remained securely affixed to their respective ends of the rod. The throttle control cable had been pulled from its connection to the rod, but its swaged end remained captive in the connector on the rod. The investigation was unable to determine the pre-accident security of the throttle cable to rod attachment, or when the cable disconnected from the rod. The throttle mechanical stop arms remained securely attached to the rod, but, due to damage, their functionality and range adjustments could not be determined.

Representatives of SKFC reported that the occupant lap restraint belts could droop down between the seats if not properly secured and stowed, and interfere with throttle control travel. Occupant egress and damage precluded determination of whether such a condition occurred during the flight. In an email communication to the NTSB, the surviving pilot wrote "4 Point seat belt secured, adjusted and checked. Any excess strap after adjustment is tucked under the lap belt to keep from flapping in the wind."

Ignition System

The breakerless dual capacitor discharge ignition incorporated an integrated generator that separately powered two ignition coils. Each coil powered one spark plug in each cylinder. Spark/ignition timing was a function of crankshaft rotation angle, and was not user adjustable. The integrated generator was not examined. Both coils remained attached and appeared intact. The ignition leads to the spark plugs were partly damaged and/or separated from the engine.

All four spark plug bases were found securely installed in the engine. All four spark plugs were missing the bulk of their upper insulator sections, which were fracture-separated, consistent with rock impact damage. No spark plug model numbers were available on the remaining portions. The four spark plug bases were removed and examined. All were contaminated and/or corroded, consistent with salt water immersion. The electrode gaps were found to be larger than the Rotax specifications, but the reasons for this, which included corrosion, wear, or improper maintenance, could not be determined.

Damage precluded the testing of the ignition system, or of any of its individual components.

Fuel System

The fuel system, particularly the fuel lines, had been significantly disrupted by the accident and/or subsequent environmental exposure. Excluding the fuel tank cap, all primary components of the fuel system were recovered, and all were damaged and/or contaminated by environmental exposure. Excluding the fuel tank, none of the components were in a condition to determine their pre-accident condition or functionality.

The engine-driven fuel pump was intact but contained sand and water, and was corroded. The electric fuel pump did not operate when external electrical power was applied; it was not opened for further examination. The fuel filter glass case was absent, consistent with postaccident environmental exposure. The filter element appeared intact.

The two carburetors were found separated from the engine at their flexible boot ("socket") connections but remained attached to the engine by cables and fuel lines. Both carburetors were missing their bowls, and their internal float mechanisms and other components were crushed, deformed, and corroded, consistent with post-accident environmental exposure. The main jets of both carburetors were unobstructed and were the correct size for this engine and carburetor installation. Removal of the cover plate on each carburetor revealed no failed springs or other abnormalities. The two sockets remained attached to the engine, and both were intact and flexible.

One Bowden (throttle-actuating) cable was displaced but remained attached to the MAG carburetor, and the other Bowden cable was separated from the PTO carburetor. The carburetor pistons (also known as throttle slides) on both carburetors were firmly stuck in the wide open throttle position.

The single air filter remained attached to the two carburetors. The air filter was crushed and otherwise deformed, contained sand, and exhibited corrosion. The air filter was the correct part for the engine.

Pistons and Cylinder Head

The pistons and cylinders were examined; no evidence of oil starvation, seizure marks, or stuck piston rings was observed. The cylinder head was intact and securely attached. No evidence of any leaks was observed along the head/cylinder joints. The head was removed, and the exposed cylinders, pistons, and head cylinder domes were examined. No evidence of any pre-accident mechanical anomalies was observed.

Exhaust System

The exhaust Y pipe remained securely attached to the engine, and the muffler remained securely attached to the exhaust Y and its other mounting hardware. No exhaust system penetrations, cracks, or re-welds were observed. No obstructions were visible in the tailpipe. The muffler was shaken and rapped to listen for any loose internal parts (baffles); none were detected.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Private Pilot (Right Seat)

The Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office, Ventura, California, performed an autopsy on the private pilot and determined that his cause of death was drowning. The FAA Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted forensic toxicology examinations on specimens from the pilot and detected two sedating antihistamines (chlorpheniramine and diphenhydramine) and one non-sedating antihistamine (loratadine).

Chlorpheniramine (generic and brand name Chlor-Trimeton®) and diphenhydramine (generic and several brand name products such as Benadryl®, Sominex®, Advil® PM) are over-the-counter antihistamines that also may be used as sleep aids. These medications may impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as flying. Chlorpheniramine has a long elimination half-life; therefore, FAA recommends a 5-day wait from the last dose before performing airman duties. Diphenhydramine can produce adverse side effects such as somnolence, decreased alertness, and impaired concentration, attention and memory, and the FAA recommends waiting at least 60 hours after the last dose before performing safety related duties.

Loratadine (generic and several brand names including Claritin®, Alavert®, Tavist® Non-Sedating) is an over-the-counter non-sedating antihistamine used to relieve the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies. According to the FAA, this medication is generally acceptable for pilots to use, provided they do not experience any drowsiness or other adverse side effects.

ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT INFORMATION

SKFC was an incorporated non-profit flying club. This flying club structure enabled SKFC's members to fly its multiple airplanes, all of which were experimental. As part of their membership requirements, SKFC members paid initiation, monthly, and airplane usage fees.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Flight Altitude and Glide Ratio

The FAA Airplane Flying Handbook (AFH, FAA-8083) defines glide ratio as "the distance the airplane will, with power off, travel forward in relation to the altitude it loses." According to airplane manufacturer information, the glide ratio of the airplane was about 5:1; thus it would travel 5,000 ft forward while descending 1,000 ft. At the 300 ft accident flight cruise altitude, the airplane would have had a maximum glide distance capability of about 1,500 ft. That distance would have increased with partial engine power.

Mission Preparedness

According to SKFC representatives, it was common for SKFC pilots on personal flights to fly just offshore along the coastline. SKFC did not have any requirements or provide any guidance, suggestions, or recommendations regarding aircraft occupants' clothing or safety/survival equipment, such as helmets or personal flotation devices (PFD). In the accident locale, the Pacific Ocean is relatively cold, even in the summer. In addition, large stretches of that coastline are rocky and/or bounded by cliffs.

Both occupants were wearing normal street clothes. Such clothing does not offer any flotation aid or thermal protection for water immersion, and can impede one's ability to remain afloat or swim/paddle through the water. Neither occupant wore a helmet. Neither occupant wore a PFD, and no PFDs were carried or stored on the airplane. Neither the accident airplane nor any of the other SKFC airplanes were equipped to land on water, and none were equipped with any flotation augmentation devices for the occupants or the airplane in the event that a ditching was required.

Engine Installation Information

The Rotax Engine Installation Manual (IM) specified that, if possible, the engine-driven fuel pump (EDP) should be located below the fuel tank level. In contrast, the accident airplane's EDP was mounted above the top of the fuel tank.

The Rotax IM stated that "If the fuel tank is considerably lower than the engine an electric pump should be used," but the IM did not define "considerably." The top of the fuel tank was about 4 inches lower than the bottom of the engine. An electric fuel pump was installed on the airplane. It was mounted about 12 inches higher than the fuel tank outlet, and about 6 inches lower than the EDP. The electric pump manufacturer's specification cited an "average wet lift" of 12 inches. "Wet lift" is the distance below the pump that the pump can draw fluid from; a wet lift of 12 inches indicates that the pump can pull fluid from a source 12 inches below the pump.

The IM stated that the electric pump is to be plumbed in parallel with the EDP and that a series connection would yield "excessive" fuel pressure. In contrast, the electric pump was plumbed in series on the accident airplane. The IM specified an allowable carburetor inlet fuel pressure range of 3 to 7 psi. The installed electric pump had a listed output pressure range of 3.0 to 4.5 psi, but no performance specifications for the EDP were able to be located. Therefore, the actual carburetor inlet fuel pressure range could not be determined.

The IM stated that the electric pump must allow fuel to flow freely through the pump, even when the pump is switched off. The investigation was unable to determine whether the installed pump complied with this specification.

The IM specified the installation of a carburetor heat system, but the accident airplane was not equipped with a carburetor heat system.

Fuel Line Clamps

For the model engine installed in the airplane, Rotax specified the use of spring-type ring clamps (PN 938 195) for almost all junctions of flexible fuel lines to other components. The only exceptions were for the two end junctions on the "T-piece" between the fuel tank and the engine primer plunger; those two junctions were to be secured with gear-type worm clamps (PN 951 898).

An examination report prepared by Rotax concerning the airplane's 2013 accident stated that "the fuel lines between the fuel tank and fuel pump…were secured with non Rotax approved gear-type worm clamps…These clamps do not tighten uniformly and could cause air to leak into the fuel system especially when there are multiple connecting joints." That report recommended the replacement of those gear-type worm clamps with the Rotax-specified spring-type ring clamps (PN 938 195). The 2013 accident engine was a Rotax 503-series, which is similar to the Rotax 582-series engine installed on the airplane at the time of this accident. The fuel system plumbing for the 503 is similar to that for the 582, and the fuel line clamp schemes and part numbers are identical for the two engine models. During the July 2017 examination of the wreckage, all flexible fuel line to component junctions were observed to be secured by gear-type worm clamps, instead of the Rotax-specified spring-type ring clamps.

The SKFC personnel did not initially explain why the incorrect gear-type worm clamps had not been replaced with the correct spring-type ring clamps after the 2013 accident. However, in follow-up communications with the NTSB about the 2017 accident, the SKFC mechanic stated that when he was attaching a fuel line to the fuel filter, he found that the Rotax-approved gear-type worm clamp was "too thin in width and [had] too sharp a radius on the edge [such] that it actually cut into the existing, but quite flexible" fuel line. As noted earlier, Rotax specifies the use of spring-type ring clamps (not gear-type worm clamps) for attaching a fuel line to the fuel filter.

Illustrated Parts Catalog Omissions

Rotax provides a single document to serve as the Illustrated Parts Catalog (IPC) for Rotax engine series 447UL, 503UL, 582UL models 90 and 99, and 618UL. IPC diagram 9.6.2 depicted the typical installation configuration, which consisted of a single fuel tank, a plunger-type primer, and two carburetors. Review of the IPC fuel line clamping scheme revealed that the diagram and associated parts list were incomplete; neither the diagram nor the parts list included clamps for the lines between the fuel pump and the carburetors, for the line between the fuel tank and the fuel filter, or for the fuel pump end of the line from the primer T-piece, and no supplemental or explanatory notes addressed clamp usage for those junctions. The same (clampless) IPC diagram was duplicated in the Rotax IM as well. Discussions with Rotax representatives indicated that all those junctions were to be secured with the spring-type ring clamps.

Carburetor Sockets

Examination of the maintenance records indicated that the carburetor socket for the PTO carburetor was replaced 6 days before the accident by the SKFC mechanic. The SKFC representatives reported that that socket was replaced because it was cracked; that socket was originally installed during the 2015 overhaul. According to the airplane's "Flight Log," the next airplane/engine run (for 0.2 hours) occurred 4 days after the socket replacement, but it could not be determined whether the airplane was flown at that time. The next entry in the Flight Log was for the accident flight.

The maintenance records entry for the PTO carburetor socket replacement did not contain any information regarding an operational check of the new installation. Discussions with the mechanic and another SKFC member revealed that no operational check was conducted and that the newly-installed PTO socket was "not brand new."

The part number on the newly-installed PTO socket matched the part number specified by the Rotax IPC. Comparison of the PTO socket with the MAG socket indicated that the two were slightly different in diameter but of the same height and that the part number on the MAG socket did not match the Rotax-specified part number. The MAG socket did not bear any manufacturer identification, so no cross-check of applicability was able to be accomplished.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Private
Age: 56, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Sport Pilot
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Sport Pilot
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/24/2008
Occupational Pilot:
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 377 hours (Total, all aircraft), 64 hours (Total, this make and model)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Sport Pilot
Age: 60, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Sport Pilot
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CHICCO MIGUEL E
Registration: N2812
Model/Series: QUICKSILVER SPORT II MXL-II
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental Light Sport
Serial Number: 0001763
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/17/2017, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 890 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 73 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3184 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Rotax
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: UL582 DCDI 99
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 65 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: NDT, 13 ft msl
Observation Time: 1656 PDT
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 315°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 6500 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C / 17°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  9 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots, 260°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.81 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Camarillo, CA (CMA)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Camarillo, CA (CMA)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1630 PDT
Type of Airspace:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Unknown
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:  34.119167, -119.119722 (est)

NTSB Identification: WPR17FA146
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 08, 2017 in Point Mugu, CA
Aircraft: CHICCO MIGUEL E QUICKSILVER SPORT II, registration: N2812
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor.

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 July 8, 2017, about 1647 Pacific daylight time, an experimental light sport Quicksilver Sport MXII aircraft, N2812, sustained unknown damage when it ditched in the Pacific Ocean just offshore near Pt. Mugu, California. The two pilots on board escaped the aircraft before it sank. One pilot successfully made it to shore, but the other pilot died before he reached the shore. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.


According to the surviving pilot, he and the other pilot were both members of the Sky Knights Flight Club, which owned the aircraft, and which was based at Camarillo Airport (CMA) Camarillo, California. Both he and the CFI were qualified by the club to operate the aircraft on their own. The club also owned two other experimental light sport aircraft. These were a Quicksilver Sport MXIIS aircraft, N1712, and a Quicksilver MXL single place aircraft, N7712. On the day of the accident, a total of five persons, including the two accident pilots, planned to fly the three aircraft in loose formation south to the shoreline, and then proceed southeast from there for a local flight.


The aircraft was equipped with side-by-side seats and dual controls. According to the surviving pilot, he took the left seat and the other pilot, who was a certificated flight instructor (CFI), took the right seat, but this was not an instructional flight. They departed CMA via the "southeast pattern," which is one of three pre-specified routes to exit the CMA traffic area. They departed with about 10 gallons of fuel on board, and the non-CFI was the pilot flying. He estimated that it took about 15 minutes to reach the shoreline, which was about 7 miles south of CMA. At the shoreline, the three aircraft turned left, which put the shoreline off their left side.


Shortly after they passed a large rock outcrop known as "Mugu Rock," the pilot felt a "skip" in the engine. At that time, they were cruising off the shoreline, above the ocean, at an altitude of about 300 feet. The skip repeated a few times, and the pilot then asked the CFI whether he felt it too; the CFI replied in the affirmative. They decided to reverse course and return to CMA, and also advised the other two aircraft of their situation and intentions. They reversed course, the engine irregularity continued, and the two agreed that they should climb to gain altitude in case the situation deteriorated. At that time the pilot advanced the throttle to climb, but the rpm only went to about 5,900, instead of the desired target value of 6,100 to 6,300 rpm. The pilot asked the CFI to advance his throttle to try to obtain more rpm. The CFI pushed on the throttle, but was unable to increase the rpm above 5,900. The rpm was then observed to be slowly decreasing. The aircraft could not climb, and then became unable to maintain altitude. Due to their different experience levels, they agreed that the CFI should now become the flying pilot, and a transfer of control was effected.


The rpm continued to decrease slowly, over a period of 4 to 5 minutes, and it became apparent that they would have to conduct a forced landing. Because the coastline was rocky, and Pacific Coast Highway was crowded with traffic, they realized that they would have to continue flight to reach a sandy beach, or else put the aircraft in the water.


The continued decrease in rpm and lack of a suitable landing location forced them to ditch just offshore. The aircraft touched down slowly and under control, and remained afloat. The two occupants both successfully escaped the aircraft, and stayed with the aircraft until it began to sink. They then began swimming to shore, which was about 200 feet away. The pilot was ahead of the CFI, and they maintained verbal contact as they made their way to shore. The pilot kept verbally checking on the CFI; initially the CFI said he was fine, but later during the swim the CFI said that he was "getting tired." The pilot reached the shore and climbed out onto a rock, and then turned to see that the CFI was unresponsive and face down in the water. A bystander swam to and pulled the CFI from the water, but the CFI was unable to be resuscitated by the pilot and bystander, or by the paramedics who arrived shortly thereafter.


Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) information indicated that the aircraft was manufactured in 2001, and was equipped with a Rotax 503 DCDI series engine. Review of the maintenance records indicated that the most recent annual condition inspection was completed in January 2017, when the airframe had a total time (TT) in service of about 3,111 hours, and the engine had a time since major overhaul of 349 hours.


Photographs showed that the aircraft appeared to remain intact after it impacted, and then submerged in, the water. The morning after the accident, the aircraft was discovered to have been washed ashore. As a consequence of the rocky coast and wave action, the airframe and engine incurred significant damage. The aircraft was recovered later that morning, and transported to CMA for examination by NTSB and FAA personnel.


The 1656 automated weather observation from Point Mugu Naval Air Station, located about 3 miles northwest of the accident site, included winds from 260 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 9 miles, few clouds at 6,500 feet, temperature 25 degrees C, dew point 17 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.81 inches of mercury.