Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain, operated by Marc Inc under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a commercial aerial surveying flight, N400JM: Fatal accident occurred March 12, 2019 in Madeira, Hamilton County, Ohio

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Cincinnati, Ohio
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida 
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 
Hartzell; Piqua, Ohio 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Madeira, OH
Accident Number: ERA19FA124
Date & Time: 03/12/2019, 1516 EDT
Registration: N400JM
Aircraft: Piper PA31
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Aerial Observation 

On March 12, 2019, at 1516 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-31-350, N400JM, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain in Madeira, Ohio. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated by Marc, Inc. under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a commercial aerial surveying flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated from Cincinnati Municipal Airport-Lunken Field (LUK), Cincinnati, Ohio, at 1051.

Review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) preliminary air traffic control (ATC) and radar data revealed that the airplane flew several surveying tracks outside of Cincinnati before proceeding north to fly tracks near Dayton. The pilot reported to ATC that he was having a fuel problem and requested "direct" to LUK and a lower altitude. The controller provided the position of Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport (MGY), which was located 8 miles ahead. The pilot reported MGY in sight but requested to continue to LUK. When the pilot checked in with the subsequent ATC facility, he reported that the fuel issue was resolved. Seven miles north of LUK, the pilot established radio contact with the LUK tower controller. He advised the controller that the airplane was experiencing a fuel problem and he did not think it was going to reach the airport. The airplane slowed to a groundspeed of 80 knots before the air traffic controller noted a simultaneous loss of radar and radio contact about 5 nautical miles north of LUK.

A relative of the pilot reported that the pilot told him the airplane "had a fuel leak and it was killing his sinuses" about 1 week prior to the accident. A company employee revealed that the airplane had a fuel leak in the left wing, and that the airplane was due to be exchanged with another company PA-31-350 the week before the accident occurred so that the fuel leak could be isolated and repaired. The accident airplane remained parked for a few days, was not exchanged, and then the accident pilot was brought in to continue flying the airplane.

According to witnesses, the airplane flew "very low" and the engine sputtered before making two loud "pop" or "back-fire" sounds. One witness reported that after sputtering, the airplane "was on its left side flying crooked." Another witness reported that the "unusual banking" made the airplane appear to be flying "like a stunt in an airshow." Two additional witnesses reported that the airplane was flying 100-120 ft above ground level in a southerly direction before it turned to the left and "nosedived." Another witness reported that he could see the entire belly of the airplane and the airplane nose was pointing down toward the ground just prior to the airplane impacting a tree. A witness from an adjacent residence reported that there was a "whitish gray smoke coming from the left engine" after the accident, and that a small flame began rising" from that area when he was on the phone with 9-1-1 about 3 minutes after the accident.

According to FAA airmen records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine and instrument airplane and a ground instructor certificate. His most recent FAA first-class medical certificate was issued November 8, 2018. Examination of pilot's logbooks revealed 6,392 total hours of flight experience as of February 19, 2019, including 1,364 hours in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent logged flight review was completed January 31, 2017.

According to FAA airworthiness records, the twin-engine airplane was manufactured in 1981. It was powered by two Lycoming, 350-horsepower engines, which drove two 3-bladed, constant-speed, counter-rotating propellers.

Examination of the accident site and wreckage revealed that the airplane impacted a tree and private residence before it came to rest upright on a 335° heading. All major portions of the airplane were located on site.

The fuselage was substantially damaged. The instrument panel was fragmented and destroyed. The engine control levers were fire damaged and all levers were in the full forward position. Control continuity was established from the flight controls to the flight control surfaces except for one elevator cable attachment, which exhibited a tensile overload fracture. The left wing remained attached to the fuselage. The outboard leading edge of the left wing was crushed upward and aft, and the inboard section displayed thermal and impact damage. The right wing outboard of the right nacelle was impact separated, and a section of the right wing came to rest on the roof of the home. The leading edge of the right wing section displayed a semi-circular crush area about 1 ft in diameter. The left horizontal stabilizer and elevator were dented. The right horizontal stabilizer and elevator were bet upward at the tip. Measurement of the rudder trim barrel revealed a nose-right trim setting.

Both engines remained attached to their respective wings. The left engine remained attached at the mount, however the mount was bent and fractured in multiple locations. The engine was angled upward about 75°. All but 4 inches of the left propeller was buried and located at initial ground impact point, which was about 13 ft from the left engine. The right engine was found attached to the right wing and its respective engine mounts, however the engine mounts were fractured in multiple locations. All but 6 inches of the right propeller was buried and located at the initial ground impact point, which was about 18 ft from the right engine.

The left engine crankshaft would not rotate upon initial examination. Impact damage was visible to ignition harness leads on both sides of the engine. Both magnetos remained secured and produced sparks at all leads when tested. Less than 2 ounces of fuel was observed within the fuel inlet of the fuel servo upon removal of the servo. The sample tested negative for water. The fuel servo was disassembled and both diaphragms were present and damage free with no signs of tears. The fuel inlet screen was found unobstructed. Rotation of the engine crankshaft was achieved through the vacuum pump drive after the removal of impact damaged pushrods. Spark plugs showed coloration consistent with normal operation and electrodes remained mechanically undamaged. A borescope inspection of all cylinders did not reveal any anomalies. The oil filter was opened, inspected, and no debris was noted. Fuel injectors were removed and unobstructed. Residual or no fuel was found during the examination and removal of components such as fuel lines, injector lines and the fuel pump.

The right engine crankshaft would not rotate upon initial examination. Minor impact damage was visible to ignition harness leads. Cylinder Nos. 2, 4, and 6 displayed varying degrees of impact damage to their top sides. The alternator mount was found fractured and the alternator was not present at the time of engine examination. Spark plugs showed coloration consistent with normal operation and electrodes remained mechanically undamaged. Both magnetos produced sparks at all leads when tested. The fuel servo was dissembled and both diaphragms were present and free of damage with no signs of tears. Engine crankshaft rotation was achieved through the vacuum pump drive after the removal of impact damaged pushrods. A borescope inspection of all cylinders did not reveal any anomalies. The oil filter was opened, inspected and no debris was noted. Fuel injectors were removed and were unobstructed. The oil suction screen was found unobstructed but contained nonferrous pieces of material. Fuel was found during examination of the right engine fuel lines, injector lines, and the fuel pump.

Both propellers were separated from the engine mounting flanges. Examination of the right propeller revealed that all blades exhibited aft bending and bending opposite rotation, twisting leading edge down, and chordwise rotational scoring on both face and camber sides. Examination of the left propeller revealed that two blades exhibited aft bending with no remarkable twist or leading-edge damage. One blade exhibited no remarkable bending or twisting. All three blades exhibited mild chordwise/rotational abrasion.

The wreckage was retained by the NTSB for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N400JM
Model/Series: PA31 350
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: MARC, Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Does Business As: MARC, Inc.
Operator Designator Code: 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: LUK, 490 ft msl
Observation Time: 1453 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 9°C / -7°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots / , 350°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.37 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Cincinnati, OH (LUK)
Destination: Cincinnati, OH (LUK) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 39.179444, -84.380278

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

David Sapp

NTSB investigator Todd Gunther

MADEIRA, Ohio —  Nation Transportation Safety Board investigators said they will have to rely on evidence at the scene and witnesses to determine what caused a Piper 31 PA to crash into a Madeira neighborhood Tuesday.

“About two miles north of Lunken, there was a simultaneous loss of radar and radar contact with the aircraft,” NTSB investigator Todd Gunther said. “There was no distress call.”

Gunther said there are no flight recorders on the plane, so they won’t get details about what was happening with the systems on board.

At the scene, investigators have started to put together the final moments of the flight.

“The airplane struck a tree somewhere above ground level with the right wing first, spun approximately 180 degrees, as it came down on top of a house and came to rest in the opposite direction of what it’s flight path was,” Gunther said.

The pilot was David Sapp, 62.

His sister, who didn’t want to be identified, said he was a father and a grandfather.

“He loved playing hockey. He loved everything athletic. In Arizona, he was a big brother,” the sister said.

She said he was from Cleveland originally, but moved to Phoenix and considered that home unless he was flying.

“He said that was his second home,” his sister said.

Sapp’s sister also said they believe there was a problem with the plane.

“He had concerns, when he spoke to his wife, about the plane acting up,” the sister said.

The NTSB will have a team of four members in the area through the weekend.

Story and video ➤

A Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain plane crashed into a house in Madeira on Tuesday as it was heading back to Lunken Airport, killing the pilot, officials said.

Officials identified the pilot as 62-year-old David Sapp.

A man who lives behind the site of the wreckage said the sound of splintering wood was so intense, he thought his own home had been struck.

Carter Waide ran outside, toward the wreckage in his neighbor's yard. The front end of the plane was obliterated, he said, adding "anybody that would have been in the first two seats didn’t have a chance."

The plane burst into flames.

Waide alerted authorities, sickened by the scene.

"It was so strange to see a plane," Waide said. "Felt sick cause you knew it was really bad. I said a quick prayer and tried to help but nothing (could) be done."

No other fatalities were being reported Tuesday evening. Ohio State Highway Patrol did not specify how Sapp died or where he was from. 

The plane, which fire officials said had been gathering images for maps and geographic information systems (GIS), went down at about 3:18 p.m. It hit the addition on the back of the house, knocking part of the addition down, said Madeira/Indian Hill Fire Chief Stephen Ashbrock.

A neighbor said no one was at home at the time of the crash, and two dogs were rescued. 

The house is on Rollymeade Avenue, near Kenwood and Shawnee Run roads, just east of the Kenwood Country Club. It's a neighborhood filled with children. The streets are lined with single-family brick homes with big front yards and some large mature trees.

Other neighbors described hearing a thud, but not a violent explosion, when the plane struck the home.

Jenny Brock, who lives near the crash scene, has grown accustomed to the sound of airplanes passing overhead because the neighborhood is directly on the flight path to Lunken.

"I just heard a good three seconds of what sounded like an engine failure, then a loud bang," Brock said.

Judith Lampe, who also lives nearby, said the plane "made a terrible noise."

The back of the house, Lampe said, was "pretty much open to the elements." 

Officials with the FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board responded or were en route to the scene, Ashbrock said.

The FAA released the following statement:

"A twin-engine Piper PA-31 crashed into a home… near Madeira, Ohio. FAA investigators are on their way to the crash site, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation. The FAA and NTSB do not release names of pilots or passengers.", which tracks the movement of planes, shows the Piper left Lunken Airport and then flew north to Springfield, Ohio. The Piper made at least six passes over the Springfield area, then went south and made at least four passes between Middletown and Mason. It then headed south, in the direction of Lunken, which is about five miles south-southwest of the crash site.

The plane was built in 1980, FAA records show. A plane with the same tail number was involved in an accident in 2002, according to documents on AviationDB.Net. The plane hit power lines during a landing at Front Range Airport in Colorado about 20 miles east of Denver. The pilot couldn't see through the windshield because of a window heater failure.

The plane currently is owned by Marc Inc., which a company website describes as "North America's largest provider of contract aircraft and flight crews for airborne GIS survey and surveillance projects." Marc bought the Piper in 2007, FAA records show.

The company's owner, Billy H. Miller, said he was not aware of the crash and directed requests for information to the company's office, which is based at John Bell Williams Airport in Bolton, Mississippi. The airport is owned by Hinds Community College. The company, which owns and operates its own fleet, referred all questions to their attorney, Thomas Bryson, who was not available for comment.

Madeira resident Bill Heckle had been out flying Tuesday, testing his plane’s radio gear. He described the conditions as clear with little wind.

When Heckle landed at Lunken Airport, he noticed that his wife had been calling his cellphone. They live down the street from the crash scene.

She was worried because she knew he would have been flying in the area.

“She was pretty distraught when I called,” Heckle said. “She was concerned that it might have been me.”

Story and video ➤

Mandatory credit: Carter Waide
  A body is removed from the site of a plane crash on Rollymeade Avenue, March 12th, 2019, in Madeira, Ohio. Authorities say a Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain has crashed into a house in a suburban Cincinnati community, killing the pilot.

MADEIRA, Ohio (FOX19) - The pilot killed in a plane crash in a northeastern Cincinnati suburb Tuesday had a current commercial flying license, according to online federal aviation records.

David J. Sapp, 62, is from Sun City in Maricopa County, Arizona, said troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Hamilton County post in Blue Ash.

Sapp’s commercial pilot license was issued Jan. 9, 2018, according to online Federal Aviation Administration records.

It’s unclear how long Sapp was a licensed pilot.

We have a call and email into FAA corporate officials for more information.

He was qualified to fly the plane he was in, but the company that owns the Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain is dissolved, according to online records with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.

We also are checking with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office to see why the company that owns the plane is dissolved.

The plane has no prior incidents, according to online federal aviation records.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to arrive at the crash scene Wednesday morning as the investigation continues, troopers said.

The plane crashed at 3:18 p.m. Tuesday on Rollymeade Avenue and caught fire after it struck a remodeled portion of a home, said Madeira & Indian Hill Joint Fire District Fire Chief Stephen Ashbrock.

Story and video ➤

MADEIRA, Ohio (WKRC) -- A Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain crashed into a Madeira home Tuesday afternoon, killing the pilot who was the only person on board.

As first responders rushed to the scene, neighbors also rushed to help.

Carter Waide didn’t have to go far, the plane crash happened in the yard right next to his.

“The flames started and 911 said don't go near it. It was engulfed in flames pretty fast,” said Waide. He says he couldn’t see inside the cockpit and it didn’t look good as parts of the plane's top were missing.

Waide says he spoke to some other neighbors who saw the plane crash.

“They said they both saw that it was coming in very loud. We get a lot of planes going overhead that land at Lunken but they both said it was very low.

The left wing dipped, banked sharply, spun around and went into that house and entered the ground,” said Waide.

The neighborhood sits in the flight path of Lunken Airport, where the pilot was heading when he crashed.

Bill Heckle lives in the neighborhood and is also a pilot. Heckle was flying at the time and says his phone kept ringing, but he didn’t answer it. It was his wife calling.

"She was a bit distraught when I called her because she couldn’t get a hold of me,” said Heckle. “She was concerned that the plane that crashed could have been mine.”

The pilot has been identified as David Sapp, 62, of Glendale, Arizona.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be in Madeira Wednesday morning to investigate.

Story and video ➤

1 comment:

  1. If something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't and will most likely not fix its self.