Sunday, April 14, 2019

Loss of Control on Ground: Van's Aircraft RV-7A, , N20342; accident occurred July 24, 2018 at Princeton Municipal Airport (KPNM), Mille Lacs County, Minnesota

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Princeton, MN
Accident Number: CEN18LA295
Date & Time: 07/24/2018, 1456 CDT
Registration: N20342
Aircraft: Vans RV7A
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The private pilot was conducting a personal cross-country flight and decided to stop at an intermediate airport to refuel the airplane. When the airplane touched down, it swerved left, exited the side of the runway, struck a runway edge light, and then nosed over in soft terrain.

Examination of the runway revealed that a long black line, which extended from the centerline to where the runway edge light was struck, was imprinted in the pavement. It is likely that the imprint was created by the chine that was pronounced on both sides of the tire. These ground signatures indicate that the nosewheel tire was likely flat upon touchdown, which led to the pilot’s inability to maintain directional control upon landing. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A flat nosewheel tire, which resulted in the pilot’s inability to maintain directional control on landing.


Tire casing - Failure (Cause)
Directional control - Attain/maintain not possible (Cause)

Environmental issues
Wet/muddy terrain - Effect on equipment
Runway/taxi/approach light - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

On July 24, 2018, about 1456 central daylight time (cdt), a Schmidt Vans RV7A, N20342, nosed over during landing at Princeton Municipal Airport (PNM), Princeton, Minnesota. The pilot and passenger were seriously injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight originated from Mercer County Regional Airport (HZE), Hazen, North Dakota, and was destined for Wittman Regional Airport (OSH), Oshkosh Wisconsin, but diverted to PNM.

The pilot and his son departed Schmidt Ranch Airport (1WN0), Northport, Washington, at 0515 Pacific daylight time, and flew to Hazen (HZE), North Dakota, and refueled. They departed HZE at 1315 cdt en route to OSH. They decided to stop in PNM for fuel. The winds were gusty. The approach to PNM was normal. When they touched down, the airplane swerved to the left, departed the runway onto soft soil, and nosed over. In his accident report, the pilot said the nose tire blew out on landing and caused the airplane to exit the runway.

In an e-mail from the FAA inspector who examined the airplane, he felt that, based on ground signatures and the fact the airplane did not have a steerable nose wheel, the nose tire was flat on touchdown. He wrote: "There was a distinct long black line imprinted in the pavement from the centerline where he landed right over to the impacted runway light. The line was created by the chine that was pronounced on each side of this brand of tire. It was a gentle curve to the left off the runway with no swerving. The tire got a set in it (the sidewalls were stiffer when the flat tire was depressed with my fingers), and gentle differential braking did not affect it at all. The tire would not even roll well in the grass alongside the runway."

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 77, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present:
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/26/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  5200 hours (Total, all aircraft), 886 hours (Total, this make and model), 5200 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Vans
Registration: N20342
Model/Series: RV7A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2003
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 70204
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/07/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1800 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 872 Hours
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A1A
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: PNM, 980 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1456 CDT
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots / 14 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 260°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.07 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 14°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Hazen, ND (HZE)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Princeton, MN (PNM)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1315 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Princeton Municipal (PNM)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 980 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 33
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3900 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop; Traffic Pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 45.559722, -93.608333 (est)

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