Sunday, April 28, 2019

Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee, operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight, N6653J: Accident occurred July 07, 2017 near Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport (KGVL), Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Gainsville, GA
Accident Number: ERA17LA278
Date & Time: 07/07/2017, 1545 EDT
Registration: N6653J
Aircraft: PIPER PA28
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Powerplant sys/comp malf/fail
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 7, 2017, about 1545 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180, N6653J, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a field about 5 nautical miles southeast of Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport (GVL), Gainesville, Georgia. The private pilot was not injured. The airplane was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the flight that was destined for GVL, and originated about 1430 from Hilliard Airpark (01J), Hilliard, Florida.

The pilot stated that when the flight was about 10 miles from GVL, he made a radio call to the airport and gave his location and intentions. He then started the checklist, and when he moved the mixture control, the handle felt like it was caught on something. He pushed harder on the mixture control to move to rich, and then began troubleshooting by moving the mixture control to the point where it had "hung up" to see if it would occur again. At that moment, he heard a "pop" sound followed by engine rpm decrease to idle. He attempted to do a quick check of the throttle quadrant by breaking the sides to get access, but reported the problem was not in the quadrant. He moved the mixture control from full rich to idle cut-off and also advanced full throttle, but there was no engine change. By that time, the flight was 7 miles from GVL. He made a mayday call reporting his location, and then executed a right 180° turn and began looking for a place to land. He located a nearby highway, but because it was congested, he opted to land in a field.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration inspector who examined the airplane at the accident site the following day, he could not access the cockpit because the cabin entry door was locked. The left fuel tank had about 1/2 capacity, but he could not tell if any fuel remained in the right fuel tank. The airplane was recovered by the pilot. He also indicated that the pilot said the fuel selector was on the left tank position when the engine lost power.

The pilot, who also held an mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings as well as an inspection authorization, reported that during his examination of the engine compartment the following day, he found the mixture control cable separated from the mixture control lever at the carburetor. He also indicated that the hardware used to secure the control to the mixture control lever were not recovered.

The last 100-hour inspection of the engine was signed off by the pilot/mechanic on January 15, 2017. The pilot/mechanic reported he did inspect the engine controls in the engine compartment, and all were properly secured. Since the inspection was signed off as being completed, he had not done any additional work to the mixture control cable at the carburetor. The airplane had been operated between 30 and 40 hours since the inspection was performed. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 49, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 None
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/19/2009
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/14/2010
Flight Time:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N6653J
Model/Series: PA28 180
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1968
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Utility
Serial Number: 28-5137
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/15/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 35 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 5000 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A4A
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 180 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: GVL, 1276 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1553 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 302°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:  Overcast / 3700 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 8 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 250°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.06 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 22°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: Moderate - In the Vicinity - Thunderstorms - No Precipitation
Departure Point: HILLIARD, FL (01J)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: GAINESVILLE, GA (GVL)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1430 EDT
Type of Airspace:

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:  34.226667, -83.743333

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