Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Cessna 182D Skylane, privately owned and operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight, N9021X: Fatal accident occurred October 02, 2017 at Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport (SIG), San Juan, Puerto Rico

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Miramar, Florida 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms 

Location: San Juan, PR
Accident Number: ERA18LA002
Date & Time: 10/02/2017, 1048 AST
Registration: N9021X
Aircraft: CESSNA 182
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Aircraft wake turb encounter
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


On October 2, 2017, about 1048 Atlantic standard time, a Cessna 182D, N9021X, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during landing at Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport (SIG), San Juan, Puerto Rico. The private pilot was fatally injured and a pilot-rated passenger was seriously injured. The airplane was privately owned and operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated at Cyril E. King Airport (STT), Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands, about 1015.

According to the air traffic controller, the pilot was cleared to land on runway 9 behind a flight of two Blackhawk helicopters. The pilot reported that he had the helicopters in sight. While on short final for landing, the pilot was given clearance to land after the helicopters had cleared the runway at the Bravo 4 intersection. The controller reported that the airplane was still airborne passing the Bravo 2 intersection and touched down about 500 ft before the Bravo 3 intersection. The airplane then bounced and came to rest in inverted in the grass between the runway and taxiway. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), air traffic voice communications were not recorded due to hurricane damage to equipment.

The pilot-rated passenger, who was in the right seat, reported that, approaching SIG for landing, he heard the tower controller tell a Cessna 172 to go around, clear a Cessna Citation to land, and clear a pair of Blackhawk helicopter to land behind the Citation. The accident pilot turned onto the base leg of the traffic pattern and was subsequently cleared to land behind the helicopters. After turning final, he and the pilot noted some turbulence that they assumed was from the helicopters. The tower controller then instructed the pilot to complete s-turns. The passenger estimated that the helicopters would still be in a hover taxi over the runway when they arrived over the threshold, so the pilot asked the controller to confirm that they were still cleared to land; the controller responded that the airplane was cleared to land. As the airplane crossed the runway threshold, the Blackhawks were turning off of the runway. The pilot and passenger immediately felt a "heavy downdraft" and thought that the airplane would hit the runway hard. As the airplane was about to touch down, it encountered another "burst," which pitched the airplane hard to the left. They announced that they were going around, and the pilot turned the airplane to the right. As the pilot added power, the airplane encountered another burst and pitched "straight up." About 50-100 ft above the ground, the airplane rolled inverted and impacted the grass between the taxiway and runway with "full power." The passenger stated that there were no mechanical issues with the airplane and that the engine performed normally during the accident sequence.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multiengine land. According to the FAA, the pilot held a second-class medical certificate with no limitations, issued on May 9, 2017. On the application for that medical certificate, he reported 1,057 total hours of flight experience, including 58 hours during the previous 6 months. The pilot's personal logbook(s) were not located.

The pilot-rated passenger held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. According to the FAA, he held a second-class medical certificate with no limitations, issued on July 14, 2016. On the medical certificate application, he reported 165 total hours of flight experience, including 52 hours during the previous 6 months.


The high-wing, single-engine, four-seat airplane was equipped with fixed, tricycle landing gear and a Continental 230-horsepower reciprocating engine fitted with a McCauley two-bladed, constant-speed propeller.

The airplane's maintenance records were not located after the accident.


At 1835, the SIG recorded weather included wind from 120° at 10 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, scattered clouds at 3,000 ft, broken clouds at 8,000 ft, temperature 29°C, dew point 25°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.98 inches of mercury.


Due to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the closure of the San Juan FAA Flight Standards District Office during the weeks following the hurricane, no detailed examination of the wreckage was performed. Review of photographs provided by the airport manager indicated that the airplane came to rest inverted in the grass area between the runway and taxiway. Structural damage was observed on the fuselage, empennage, and both wings. There was no fire.


The pilot died in the hospital the day after the accident. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Institute of Forensic Sciences, San Juan, Puerto Rico, performed the autopsy. The cause of death was attributed to severe bodily trauma.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. Testing was negative for carbon monoxide and ethanol. Testing was positive for the following emergency treatment medications, all found in the aortic blood: atropine; midazolam and its metabolite, hydroxymidazola; and lidocaine. Sildenafil was also found in the aortic blood.


FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 90-23G, Aircraft Wake Turbulence, explains air traffic controller and pilot procedures regarding wake turbulence avoidance:


a. Air Traffic Control (ATC) Responsibilities. Air traffic controllers apply procedures for separating instrument flight rules (IFR) aircraft that include required wake turbulence separations. However, if a pilot accepts a clearance to visually follow a preceding aircraft, the pilot accepts responsibility for both separation and wake turbulence avoidance.


e. Techniques for Lighter Aircraft. Pilots operating lighter aircraft behind aircraft producing strong wake vortices should consider the following techniques to assist in avoiding wake turbulence and should be aware of the wind direction and speed along the final approach path:

1) If the pilot of the smaller following aircraft has visual contact with the preceding, larger aircraft and also with the runway, the pilot may further adjust the flightpath to avoid possible wake vortex turbulence by:

(a) Flying slightly above the glidepath and maintain that glidepath to a touchdown point beyond the touchdown point of the larger preceding aircraft.

(b) Establishing a line of sight to a touchdown point that is above and beyond the larger preceding aircraft.

(c) When possible, noting the touchdown point of the larger preceding aircraft and adjusting your touchdown point as necessary. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 48, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/09/2017
Occupational Pilot:
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 1057 hours (Total, all aircraft)

Pilot-Rated Passenger Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 43, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/14/2016
Occupational Pilot:
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 165 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Registration: N9021X
Model/Series: 182 D
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1961
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18253421
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2348 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: CONT MOTOR
Engine Model/Series: O-470-L
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 230 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:  SIG, 10 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1835 AST
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 3000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 8000 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 120°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.98 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 25°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Charlotte Amali, VI (STT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: San Juan, PR (SIG)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 1015 AST
Type of Airspace: Class C

Airport Information

Airport: Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci (SIG)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 9 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 09
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5539 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop; Traffic Pattern 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 18.456667, -66.098333 (est)

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