Sunday, May 12, 2019

Beech G35 Bonanza, privately owned and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight, N354WD: Fatal accident occurred December 20, 2017 in Cross City, Dixie County, Florida

Mr. William Otto “Bill” Greenhaw 

Mr. Greenhaw was a retired aerospace engineer from Redstone Arsenal. He enjoyed restoring airplanes, he was the Vice President of the Homer B. Wilson Vintage Aircraft and Automobile Museum, and he also served as President of local Experimental Aircraft Association chapter and former President of Local Young Eagle Coordinator. He was of the Baptist Faith. 

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Tampa, Florida 
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas 
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Cross City, FL
Accident Number: ERA18FA056
Date & Time: 12/20/2017, 1900 EST
Registration: N354WD
Aircraft: BEECH G35
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: VFR encounter with IMC
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On December 20, 2017, about 1900 eastern standard time (all times are EST), a Beech G35, N354WD, was destroyed when it impacted wooded terrain while maneuvering near Cross City, Florida. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was privately owned and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the planned flight to Melbourne International Airport (MLB), Melbourne, Florida. The flight originated from Enterprise Municipal Airport (EDN), Enterprise, Alabama, about 1715.

According to witnesses and radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), earlier during the day of the accident, the pilot flew uneventfully from Guntersville Municipal Airport (8A1), Guntersville, Alabama, to EDN, where he purchased 27.7 gallons of fuel at 1705. A radar target squawking the visual flight rules transponder code of 1200 was identified at 1740 about 30 miles south of EDN and was correlated to the accident airplane. As the target proceeded over Florida in cruise flight, over a period of about 20 minutes, it climbed from 3,400 ft mean sea level (msl) to 7,100 ft msl. It then made two left, 360° turns, followed by a rapid descent to 1,400 ft msl about 1 hour prior to the accident. The target then flew east at varying altitudes below 2,500 ft msl, and then turned south toward Tallahassee, Florida, flying s-turns and descending. The target proceeded south at 1,100 ft msl until 1849, when it flew near a cold front boundary. At that time, the target completed numerous course deviations, including three complete left 360° turns and two right 360° turns; the last radar target, at 1900:03, was about 0.4 mile east of the accident site at an indicated altitude of 450 ft msl.

The pilot's family reported the airplane overdue when the pilot did not arrive at the destination, and the airplane was subsequently located in marshy wooded terrain 2 days later. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 78, 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: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/06/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 
Flight Time:  4729 hours (Total, all aircraft), ___ hours (Total, this make and model), 24 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 9 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

The pilot, age 78, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on August 6, 2015. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of 4,405 hours. The pilot applied for BasicMed privileges on September 1, 2017.

Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that the most recent entry was dated November 26, 2017. At that time, he had recorded 4,729.6 hours of flight experience. The pilot had flown 24 hours and 9 hours during the 90-day and 30-day periods preceding the accident, respectively. The most recent simulated instrument experience logged was 0.8 hour on January 25, 2017. There was no actual instrument experienced logged during the 2-year period preceding the accident.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: BEECH
Registration: N354WD
Model/Series: G35 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1956
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: D-4458
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 11/01/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2750 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4579 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: E225
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 225 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The four-seat, low-wing, retractable tricycle-gear airplane, was manufactured in 1956. It was powered by a Continental E225, 225-horsepower engine, equipped with a constant-speed, two-blade Hartzell propeller. Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on November 1, 2017. At that time, the airplane had accumulated 4,579 hours of operation and the engine had accrued 2,047 hours since major overhaul, with 697 hours since top overhaul.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Night/Dark
Observation Facility, Elevation: CTY, 42 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 11 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1855 EST
Direction from Accident Site: 145°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 600 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots / 15 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 210°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C / 21°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Enterprise, AL (EDN)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Melbourne, FL (MLB)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1715 EST
Type of Airspace: 

Cross City Airport (CTY), Cross City, Florida, was located about 11 miles southeast of the accident site. The recorded weather at CTY at 1855, included wind from 210° at 9 knots, gusting to 15 knots; 10 miles visibility; an overcast ceiling at 600 ft; temperature 21°C; dew point 21°C; and an altimeter setting of 30.05 inches of mercury (in Hg).

The southeast section of the National Weather Service Surface Analysis Chart for 1900 depicted a low-pressure system at 1010-hectopascals (hPa) on the central Alabama and Georgia border associated with a frontal wave, with a cold front extending southwest across Alabama and a stationary front extending eastward across Georgia to another low-pressure system in South Carolina at 1010-hPa. The stationary front continued eastward into the Atlantic (for more information, see Weather Study in the public docket for this accident).

There was no record of the pilot receiving an official weather briefing from flight service or the direct user access terminal system.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 29.777778, -83.225833 

A debris path was observed beginning with freshly-cut tree branches descending on about a 45° angle and extending about 50 ft on a magnetic heading of 240° to the main wreckage. The main wreckage came to rest inverted and was oriented on about a 060° magnetic heading. The engine was in an approximate 3-ft-deep crater about halfway along the debris path. One propeller blade remained attached to the engine and one propeller blade had separated. The separated propeller blade exhibited tip curling, s-bending, leading edge gouging and chordwise scratching. The propeller blade that remained attached to the propeller hub exhibited s-bending. The vacuum pump remained attached to the engine and was removed for examination. When the vacuum pump driveshaft was rotated by hand, intake air and exhaust air were confirmed at their respective ports. The vacuum pump was then disassembled, and all the vanes were intact. Rotational scoring was noted on the vacuum pump housing.

The landing gear and flaps were retracted. The cockpit was crushed and the pilot's lap belt remained intact but was cut by rescue personnel. The fuel selector was found positioned to the left main fuel tank and the magneto switch was in the "both" position. The mixture control was in a forward position while the propeller and throttle controls were in a mid-range position. The complete attitude indicator was not recovered; however, its gyro rotor was recovered and exhibited rotational scoring. The turn and bank coordinator was recovered; it had separated from the instrument panel and its face was destroyed. When the turn and bank coordinator was disassembled, its gyro was intact and exhibited rotational scoring. The altimeter had also separated from the instrument panel and indicated 2,600 ft with a setting of 29.94 in Hg.

The air-driven heading indicator was a model DG02V-3 manufactured by Falcon Gauge Instruments/Wultrad, Inc. According to the company's website, they manufacture instruments for homebuilt and experimental aircraft. No technical standard orders (TSO) markings were observed on the unit. The unit was disassembled and rotational scoring was observed on the rotor and rotor housing.

The right wing inboard section and flap remained attached. The outboard section of right aileron separated and was located about 10 ft north of the engine. The left wing remained partially attached to the fuselage and was folded upward. The left flap and left aileron remained attached to the left wing. The right ruddervator remained attached to the right stabilator. The inboard half of the left ruddervator remained attached to the left stabilator. The outboard half of the left ruddervator separated and was located about 15 ft south of the main wreckage. Control continuity was confirmed from the right aileron and the left aileron bellcrank to the mid-cabin area. Ruddervator and ruddervator trim continuity were confirmed from the control surfaces to the control yoke in the cockpit. Measurement of the ruddervator trim actuator corresponded to a neutral setting.

The wreckage was transported to a recovery facility and the engine was examined. The rear accessories were removed for examination. Both magnetos produced spark at all leads when rotated by an electric drill. The top spark plugs were removed to facilitate a lighted borescope inspection of each cylinder. No anomalies were noted with any of the pistons or valves. When the propeller was rotated by hand, crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity was confirmed and thumb compression was attained on all cylinders.

A Garmin 295, iPad Mini, and Lenovo tablet were recovered and forwarded to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC. Due to impact damage, data could not be recovered from any of the three devices. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The State of Florida, District Eight Office of the Medical Examiner, Gainesville, Florida, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was "injuries sustained in airplane crash."

Toxicology testing performed by the laboratory at FAA Forensic Sciences of specimens from the pilot, identified amlodipine in liver and urine and quinapril in liver and urine.

During the pilot's most recent FAA medical examination in August 2015, he reported that he was being treated for high blood pressure with amlodipine and quinapril. Both blood pressure medications are considered not to be impairing.

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