Sunday, February 24, 2019

Hard Landing: Cessna 172P Skyhawk, N97116; accident occurred August 23, 2017 at Jack Edwards Airport (JKA), Gulf Shores, Alabama

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama

Aviation Accident Final 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/N97116

Location: Gulf Shores, AL
Accident Number: ERA17LA319
Date & Time: 08/23/2017, 1630 CDT
Registration: N97116
Aircraft: CESSNA 172
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Hard landing
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

Analysis 

The commercial helicopter pilot, who was enrolled in transition training for airplanes, stated that he made a normal approach to land the airplane, but when he pulled back on the control yoke, the nose of the airplane did not come up as expected. The airplane had a flat attitude, landed hard, and bounced four or five times, which resulted in damage to the firewall, the nosewheel, and both propeller blades. Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the control yoke had minimal movement due to the upper yoke control tubes at the chain sprocket binding against the aluminum channel brace due to the bent firewall. The examination also found that the elevator trim tab cable had slack and was not rigged correctly, which was not due to the hard landing: when the trim tab wheel was moved, the cable's center travel block would catch on the aft tail cone bulkhead. However, subsequent examination of the airplane did not reveal any evidence of a preimpact elevator control problem, despite the rigging of the elevator trim tab cable. A student pilot who had flown the airplane before the accident flight had not reported any issues with landing the airplane.

At the time of the accident, the pilot had accrued 29 hours of flight experience in single-engine airplanes. About 1 month after the accident, the pilot flew with a Federal Aviation Administration designated pilot examiner (DPE) and, according to the DPE, executed several landings that had a flat attitude versus a nose-high attitude. On one landing, the airplane bounced and then ballooned, which resulted in the DPE taking control of the airplane. The DPE later spoke with the pilot's flight instructor, who confirmed that the pilot tended to not properly flare on landing. Although the elevator trim tab cable was not rigged correctly, it did not impede the use of the elevator or the pilot's ability to properly flare the airplane for a safe landing. Thus, it is likely that the pilot did not flare properly, which resulted in a hard landing.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's improper landing flare, which resulted in a hard landing.

Findings

Aircraft 

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)
Total experience w/ equipment - Pilot

Factual Information 

On August 23, 2017, about 1630 central daylight time, a Cessna 172P, N97116, was substantially damaged during landing at the Jack Edwards Airport (JKA), Gulf Shores, Alabama. The commercial pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. No flight plan was filed for the flight that departed the Pensacola International Airport (PNS), Pensacola, Florida, about 1600.

The pilot stated that before he departed PNS, he noted that the elevator trim was in the full nose-up position. He reset it to the "takeoff" position and completed his before-takeoff checklist and engine run-up procedures. He said that during takeoff, he needed more back pressure on the control yoke than he was used to, so he trimmed the elevator trim tab up to reduce pressure. The flight to JKA was uneventful and he made a normal approach to runway 17. The pilot said that he reduced engine power to idle and began the landing flare. However, when he pulled back on the control yoke, the nose of the airplane did not come up as expected. The pilot described the attitude of the airplane as, "...much more flat with only slight nose up." The airplane "fell through" the last few feet above the runway, landed hard, and bounced four or five times before he could stop the airplane. He said he tried to taxi off onto a taxiway, but he was unable to steer the airplane.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation maintenance inspector conducted a postaccident examination of the airplane. The examination revealed the firewall was wrinkled, the nose wheel was bent, and both propeller blades were damaged from contact with the ground. The control yoke had minimal movement due to the upper yoke control tubes at the chain sprocket binding against the aluminum channel brace due to the bent firewall. The inspector also noted that the elevator trim tab cable had slack and was not rigged correctly. When the trim tab wheel was moved, the cable's center travel block was catching on the aft tail cone bulkhead. An FAA airworthiness inspector performed a second examination of the airplane and determined that despite the rigging of the elevator trim cable, he could not find evidence of a preaccident elevator control problem. An FAA operations inspector spoke to the flight instructor of the pilot who flew the accident airplane prior to the accident flight. The student had not reported any issues with landing the airplane.

About a month after the accident, the pilot flew with an FAA designated pilot examiner (DPE). According to the DPE, the pilot's landings were "very flat and never set up with a nose high attitude." On one landing, the airplane bounced and then ballooned resulting in the DPE taking control of the airplane. The DPE later spoke with the pilot's flight instructor, who told him that the pilot had a tendency to land flat. He described the pilot's landings as "on and off."

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate for rotorcraft with an instrument rating for rotorcraft-helicopter. He was enrolled in a Rotorcraft Transition Program, where he would earn his private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land, then obtain a commercial pilot certificate for airplane multiengine land, and then attend a new-hire class for a commercial air carrier. His last FAA first class medical certificate was issued on June 30, 2017. The pilot reported he had accrued 29 hours of flight experience in single-engine airplanes.

Weather reported at JKA, about the time of the accident, included calm wind, visibility 10 miles and clear skies. 

History of Flight

Landing-flare/touchdown
Hard landing (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 38, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/30/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:   818 hours (Total, all aircraft), 29 hours (Total, this make and model), 567 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 60 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 40 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Registration: N97116
Model/Series: 172 P
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1984
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 17276155
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/17/2017, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2299 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 5539.7 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  Pilot School (141)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: JKA, 17 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2135 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 0°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.89 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C / 24°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Pensacola, FL (PNS)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Gulf Shores, AL (JKA)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1600 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Jack Edwards (JKA)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 17 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: 17
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3596 ft / 75 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:  30.246111, -87.700833 (est)

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA319
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 23, 2017 in Gulf Shores, AL
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N97116
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 August 23, 2017, about 2030 central daylight time, a Cessna 172P, N97116, was substantially damaged during landing at the Jack Edwards Airport (JKA), Gulf Shores, Alabama. The commercial pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. No flight plan was filed for the flight that departed the Pensacola International Airport (PNS), Pensacola, Florida.

The pilot stated that before he departed PNS, he noted that the elevator trim was in the full nose-up position. He reset it to the "takeoff" position and completed his before-takeoff checklist and engine run-up procedures. He said that during takeoff, he needed more back pressure on the control yoke than he was used to, so he trimmed the elevator trim tab up to reduce pressure. The flight to JKA was uneventful and he made a normal approach to runway 17. The pilot said that he reduced engine power to idle and began the landing flare. However, when he pulled back on the control yoke, the nose of the airplane did not come up as expected. The airplane landed hard and bounced four or five times before the pilot could stop the airplane on the runway. He said he tried to taxi off the runway onto a taxiway, but he was unable to steer the airplane.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintenance inspector conducted a postaccident examination of the airplane. The examination revealed the firewall was wrinkled, the nose wheel was bent, and both propeller blades were damaged from contact with the ground. The control yoke had minimal movement due to the upper yoke control tubes at the chain sprocket binding against the aluminum channel brace due to the bent firewall. The inspector also noted that the elevator trim tab cable had slack and was not rigged correctly. When the trim tab wheel was moved, the cable's center travel block was catching on the aft tail cone bulkhead.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate for rotorcraft with an instrument rating for rotorcraft-helicopter. He was enrolled in a Rotorcraft Transition Program, where he would earn his private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land, then obtain a commercial pilot certificate for airplane multiengine land, and then attend a new-hire class for PSA airlines. His last FAA first class medical certificate was issued on June 30, 2017. The pilot reported he had accrued about 30 hours of fixed-wing, airplane single-engine land, flight time.

Weather reported at JKA, about the time of the accident, included calm wind, visibility 10 miles and clear skies.

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