Saturday, February 2, 2019

Diamond DA20-C1 Eclipse, N248ME: Accident occurred April 27, 2015 near Sylacauga Municipal Airport (KSCD), Talladega County, Alabama



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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama
Continental Motors Inc.; Mobile, Alabama
Falcon Aviation Academy; Newnan, Georgia

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/N248ME 




Location: Sylacauga, AL
Accident Number: ERA15LA200
Date & Time: 04/27/2015, 1525 CDT
Registration: N248ME
Aircraft: DIAMOND AIRCRAFT IND INC DA 20 C1
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (partial)
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On April 27, 2015, about 1525 central daylight time, a Diamond Aircraft Industries DA20-C1, N248ME, was substantially damaged during a forced landing while attempting to depart from Sylacauga Municipal Airport (SCD), Sylacauga, Alabama. The student pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company flight plan was filed for the instructional flight, which was destined for Newnan Coweta County Airport (CCO), Newnan, Georgia. The instructional flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The purpose of the flight was for the student pilot to complete a solo cross country flight. On the morning of the flight, the student met with his flight instructor to review his flight plan and perform a preflight inspection of the airplane. They then topped off the airplane's fuel tank with fuel and the student departed the airplane's home base at CCO en route to SCD. The flight instructor subsequently departed CCO in another airplane, and remained in radio contact with the student throughout the uneventful flight.

Prior to departing on the return leg of the flight, the student pilot performed another preflight inspection of the airplane, runup check of the engine, and then departed for CCO. The student initiated a takeoff from runway 9, and upon reaching an altitude of about 300 ft agl, he noted that the engine felt "bumpy" and the airplane's climb performance had degraded. He responded by confirming that the mixture control was set to the fully forward position, the fuel pump was on, and the throttle was fully open. The student then advised his flight instructor via radio of the engine issue. The flight instructor advised the student to again ensure that the mixture was fully rich and that the fuel pump was on. About this time the engine rpm began decreasing from 2,300 rpm to 2,000 rpm. The student again advised the flight instructor of the situation, and the flight instructor then told the student to return to the airport and land.

The student climbed the airplane to an altitude of about 900 ft agl, and while on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern noted that there was a helicopter in the vicinity of the approach end of runway 9. Upon reaching the mid-field point of the downwind leg, the student reduced engine power to 1,800 rpm, and configured the airplane for landing. As the airplane neared the mid-field point of the runway on final approach, it was still "too high," to make a normal landing. The flight instructor advised the student via radio to abort the landing and initiate a go-around. The student then positioned the throttle fully forward, retracted the flaps to the takeoff position, and attempted to climb the airplane. After hearing the stall warning, the student decreased the airplane's pitch attitude, and performed a forced landing to a grassy area ahead. During the landing, the right wing struck a utility line, the pilot stated "my landing was heavy", resulting in a collapsed nose landing gear, and resulting in substantial damage to the firewall and forward portion of the fuselage.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector examined the airplane at the accident site and oversaw a test run of the airplane's engine. During the test run, the engine started normally, and due to damage sustained to the propeller, was run at a low power setting. The test was subsequently discontinued, and the engine and airframe were retained for further examination.

A subsequent test run included running the engine to 1,900 rpm, which resulted in normal fuel flow and pressure. As the throttle was increased, the engine rpm began to drop off and the engine started running rough with no increase in rpm. The throttle body/fuel metering unit was removed and tested on a flow bench, the fuel pump pressure at 2800 rpm was 37.46 pounds per square inch gauge (PSIG). Manufactures specifications at that rpm was 47.80-48.00 PSIG. A test throttle body/fuel metering unit was installed on the accident engine, and a subsequent test run to about 2,800 rpm for 15-20 minutes was achieved and fuel pressures were within manufactures specification. The original throttle body/fuel metering unit was re-installed and a test run to 2,100 rpm was achieved, before the engine began running rough and backfired with no increase in rpm. The original throttle body/fuel metering unit was again removed and tested on a flow bench. This test resulted in the unit again not meeting the manufacturer's specification for fuel pressure throughout all throttle settings. Another test was conducted resulting in the same conclusion, low fuel pressure throughout all throttle settings.

The throttle body/fuel metering unit was forwarded to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for detailed examination. Detailed inspection of the unit's individual components revealed that dimensional analysis of the shaft and fuel metering disk cam profile was preformed, and no issues were observed. Additionally, an examination of the tapered knurls on the mixture control lever revealed several "sets" of knurl impression marks, consistent with the lever being repositioned on the shaft several times. The surface finish of the tapered area was patinated brown, with no indication of the metering lever sliding relative to the shaft. The tapered knurls on the shaft exhibited deformed crowns consistent with compressive deformation. Overall, the shaft exhibited nicks, burs, and raised areas along its length. The surfaces also exhibited marks consistent with rework and aggressive cleaning or sanding.

According to FAA records, the airplane was issued an airworthiness certificate on April 19, 2004, and was registered to AAF Incorporated in April 2015. It was equipped with a Continental Motors Inc. IO-240-B17B, a 125-hp, engine with a Sensenich W69EK7-63 fixed pitch propeller. According to both the airframe and engine maintenance logbooks, the most recent annual inspection was performed on February 9, 2015, with a total time of 3,866.8 hours. The engine maintenance records also showed that the fuel pump, throttle body/fuel metering unit, and fuel manifold were overhauled on January 9, 2014 and installed on the accident airplane in July 2014.

The pilot held a student pilot certificate. His most recent medical certificate was issued on February 13, 2015, and at that time he reported 54 hours of flight experience, all in the DA20-C1.

Student Pilot Information

Certificate: Student
Age: 22
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/13/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  54.1 hours (Total, all aircraft), 54.1 hours (Total, this make and model), 6.6 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 54.1 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 23.5 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information


Aircraft Make: DIAMOND AIRCRAFT IND INC
Registration: N248ME
Model/Series: DA 20 C1
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2004
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Utility
Serial Number: C0267
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/30/2015, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1764 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4060.2 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: CONTINENTAL
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-240-B17B
Registered Owner: KEN GRAHAM HOLDINGS LLC
Rated Power: 125 hp
Operator: Falcon Aviation Academy
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: SCD, 569 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2015 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 270°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.89 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 9°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Sylacauga, AL (SCD)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: Newnan, GA (CCO)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1524 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: MERKEL FIELD SYLACAUGA MUNI (SCD)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 569 ft 
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 09
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5390 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

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: 33.175556, -86.292222 (est)

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