Saturday, March 16, 2019

Ercoupe 415-C, N3538H: Accident occurred October 06, 2017 near Penns Cave Airport (N74), Centre Hall, Centre County, Pennsylvania

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

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania


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/N3538H

Location: CENTRE HALL, PA
Accident Number: ERA18LA007
Date & Time: 10/06/2017, 1415 EDT
Registration: N3538H
Aircraft: ERCOUPE 415
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (partial)
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 6, 2017, about 1415 eastern daylight time, an Ercoupe 415-C, N3538H, experienced a partial loss of engine power after takeoff and was substantially damaged during the subsequent forced landing near Penns Cave Airport (N74), Centre Hall, Pennsylvania. The private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot reported that the airplane had climbed to 200 ft above ground level after takeoff from N74 when it experienced an "appreciable" loss of engine power, the flight controls became "sluggish," and the airplane would no longer climb. He noted the engine was operating about 2,000 rpm, which was 275 rpm below the nominal full-power setting of 2,275 rpm at takeoff.

The pilot elected to perform a forced landing to a field directly off the departure end of the runway. During the landing roll, the airplane struck fences which resulted in substantial damage to both wings.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued December 30, 2015. The pilot reported 276 total hours of flight experience, 121 hours of which were in the Ercoupe.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1946, and was powered by a Continental C75-12F 75-horsepower, 4-cylinder engine. Its most recent annual inspection was completed November 12, 2016 at 1,712.8 total aircraft hours.

Examination of available maintenance records revealed that the first entry in the engine logbook was dated October 22, 2001 at the completion of an annual inspection. The entry reflected 34.6 hours since major overhaul. At its most recent annual inspection, the entry reflected 147.6 hours since major overhaul. The engine accrued 113 hours between October 2001 to November 2016. The hourly interval between each annual inspection was about 10 hours.

At 1253, the weather recorded at University Park Airport (UNV), State College, Pennsylvania, 11 miles west of N74 included an overcast ceiling at 2,400 ft and wind from 190° at 5 knots. The temperature was 20°C, and the dew point was 17°C. The altimeter setting was 30.12 inches of mercury.

The wreckage was examined at the accident site by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. Both wings were substantially damaged. The left, right, and fuselage fuel tanks were intact and contained fuel. Flight control, engine control, and fuel system continuity were confirmed.

The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand at the propeller and compression was confirmed on all cylinders but the No. 2 cylinder using the thumb method. Removal of the No. 2 cylinder valve cover revealed the No. 2 exhaust valve in the open (compressed) position without rocker-arm contact. The valve remained in the open position through several rotations of the crankshaft.

According to the Continental Engines, Maintenance Manual, Standard Practice for Spark Ignited Engines, the recommended overhaul interval for C75-series engines was every 1,800 hours or every 12 years.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 54, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
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: 12/30/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 11/15/2015
Flight Time:  275.9 hours (Total, all aircraft), 121 hours (Total, this make and model), 13.6 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 6.2 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2.2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: ERCOUPE
Registration: N3538H
Model/Series: 415 C
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1946
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 4163
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 11/02/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1712.8 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: CONT MOTOR
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: A&C75 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 75 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: KUNV, 1239 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1253 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 258°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  8 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 2400 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 190°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 20°C / 17°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: CENTRE HALL, PA (N74)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Dover, PA (0P8)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Penn's Cave (N74)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 1280 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 25
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2500 ft / 40 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: 40.890278, -77.602222 (est)

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