Saturday, March 30, 2019

Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, N494JB: Accident occurred March 28, 2019 and Incident occurred February 17, 2018 at David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport (KDWH), Tomball, Harris County, Texas

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. 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas

Location: Spring, TX
Accident Number: CEN19LA113
Date & Time: 03/28/2019, 1545 CDT
Registration: N494JB
Aircraft: Cessna 172
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On March 28, 2019, about 1545 central daylight time, a Cessna 172S airplane, N494JB, departed the taxiway and descended into a drainage ditch while taxiing at the David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport (DWH), Spring, Texas. The private pilot and passenger were not injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was owned by D & S Aviation, LLC, and operated by United Flight Systems under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 without a flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site. The cross-country flight was destined for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), Austin, Texas.

The pilot reported that there were no anomalies with the wheel brake system before she taxied from the ramp. She noted that her taxi clearance was to runway 17L via taxiways Juliet and Kilo. The pilot stated that she completed an uneventful right turn from the ramp to join the north/south taxiway Michael; however, the airplane did not respond to her left rudder pedal input to make the left turn to join taxiway Juliet. She then attempted to steer the airplane by applying a left brake input, but the airplane still did not respond. She then reduced engine power to idle and depressed both brake pedals to stop the airplane, but the airplane continued north toward taxiway November where the right main landing gear departed the pavement and the airplane descended into a drainage ditch. The pilot stated that a tailwind during taxi had resulted in a high ground speed; however, she still believed that there had been a failure of the nose wheel steering or both wheel brakes during the taxi that resulted in her inability to maintain directional control and stop the airplane. Additionally, she noted that her passenger had also applied wheel brakes unsuccessfully after she announced having a problem maintaining directional control.

The airplane was examined by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors from the Houston Flight Standards District Office. The right horizontal stabilizer and elevator were substantially damaged. A visual examination of the brake assemblies revealed no anomalies and a functional check of the brake system confirmed proper operation. There were no fluid leaks observed in the brake system, and both brake master cylinders contained an adequate amount of hydraulic fluid for normal operation. A functional check of the nose wheel steering system confirmed proper rotation of the nosewheel with the corresponding rudder pedal input. The postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

The Cessna 172S Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) states that effective ground control while taxiing is accomplished through nose wheel steering by using the rudder pedals. The POH notes that during taxi the ground speed and use of brakes should be held to a minimum, and that the proper positioning of the ailerons and elevator for wind direction is required to maintain directional control and balance. Additionally, the POH cautions that strong quartering tailwinds require extra caution while taxiing, to avoid sudden applications of engine throttle and sharp braking with a tailwind, and that directional control be maintained with the steerable nose wheel and the rudder.

According to the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-3B, a pilot must maintain a safe taxiing speed to ensure directional control, the ability to recognize any potential hazards in time to avoid them, and the ability to stop or turn where and when desired, all without undue reliance on the wheel brakes. The handbook recommends that the taxi speed be slow enough that the airplane can be stopped promptly when the engine throttle is closed.

At 1553, about 8 minutes after the accident, the DWH automated surface observing system reported wind 140° magnetic at 13 knots, gusting to 21 knots.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N494JB 
Model/Series: 172 S
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: United Flight System
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: DWH, 152 ft msl
Observation Time: 1553 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 13°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 4700 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots / 21 knots, 140°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Spring, TX (DWH)
Destination: Austin, TX (AUS)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 30.061667, -95.552778 (est)

February 17, 2018: Aircraft went off the runway, struck taxiway signage.

Date: 17-FEB-18
Time: 21:13:00Z
Regis#: N494JB
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172S
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Operation: 91
State: TEXAS

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