Sunday, May 12, 2019

Loss of Control on Ground: Smith Aerostar 601P, N7108; accident occurred August 19, 2017 at Donegal Springs Airpark (N71), Mount Joy, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; New Cumberland, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Marietta, PA
Accident Number: ERA17LA288
Date & Time: 08/19/2017, 1642 EDT
Registration: N7108
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 19, 2017, about 1642 eastern daylight time, a Smith Aerostar 601P, N7108, was substantially damaged during takeoff from the Donegal Springs Airpark (N71), Marietta, Pennsylvania. The commercial pilot was not injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight.

According to the pilot he was hired by the owner of the airplane to reposition it from N71 to New Orleans, Louisiana. After completing a preflight inspection and engine run-up, he taxied the airplane to the active runway for takeoff. During the takeoff roll, the airplane swerved to the right and the pilot corrected to the left and aborted the takeoff; however, the airplane departed the left side of the runway and collided with an embankment.

According to a mechanic, who was hired by the airplane owner to conduct a pre-purchase inspection of the airplane; the pilot was planning to deliver the airplane and had not previously flown the make and model of the accident airplane. He reviewed the operation of the airplane's systems with the pilot, including a specific discussion of the steering and braking systems, and then left the airport. The mechanic later received a call from the pilot who informed him about the accident and during a subsequent conversation the pilot stated that the airplane "got away from him."

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the right wing was buckled, and the right main landing gear separated from the trunnion mount. Examination of the flight control system and the nose wheel steering system did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. During an interview with the FAA inspector, the pilot stated that he had never previously flown the accident airplane make and model, or any multiengine airplanes with engines capable of producing more than 300 horsepower each.

The weather conditions reported at the Harrisburg International Airport (MDT), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which was located about 10 miles north of the accident site, included wind from 230° at 5 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, ceiling few at 6,000 ft, temperature 31° C, dew point 19° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.85 inches of mercury. At the time of the accident the airplane was departing with a quartering tail wind. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 28, 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): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Unknown
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/23/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 400 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1 hours (Total, this make and model)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: SMITH
Registration: N7108
Model/Series: AEROSTAR601 P
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1967
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 61P-0405-142
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/13/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 6000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3957 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO540S1A5
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 290 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: MDT, 309 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2056 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 305°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 6000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 230°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.85 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Marietta, PA (N71)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Marietta, PA (N71)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1642 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 458 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 10
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3250 ft / 50 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

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: 40.092222, -76.574444 (est)


  1. The right prop looks like it was feathered when it struck the ground, cord wise bending. Did someone forget to push the prop forward? That would account for the runway deviation and loss of control.

  2. Aerostars are hard to transition from a taxi run to take off roll. Nose wheel steering is not normal and small rudder. Pilot should have gotten checked out.

  3. As the above comment mentioned, Aerostars have unconventional nose wheel steering compared to other small aircraft. Steering is accomplished by pushing left/right rocker switches that electrically manipulate the nose wheel. This takes a little time to get accustomed to.

  4. You don't fly any complex plane without dual training for transition. This arrogant pilot got an exemption from the insurance company to do the new owners training when the qualified instructor was "too expensive" for the new owner. I wonder if the difference between the qualified and unqualified help was less than the deductible?

    People in this class of plane are notoriously cheap.

    The Aerostar is one of the easiest planes to fly for decent pilots. The rudder is affective at 40-45 knots or so. The plane is very steerable with differential braking after 10 knots.

    This pilot is just lucky he didn't have an engine failure. If the steering did not get him any turbo system anomaly would have.

    People who speak of the small rudder are ignorant.

  5. I dont think any insurance co will be so stupid to cover an Aerostar to be flown without a proper and complete checkout from an experienced CFI on Aerostars. This was an illegal flight by a Mild Maneuvering CFI.

    The wimpy CFI probably is the type that just push the throttle forward too fast due the idiot dont care about engines at all due he is the kind that his parents pay for all damages he does to his car. I have see that kind. I can tell if a pilot cares for engines by the way they apply throttles or cut throttles clumsy and too quick.

    I flew in South America many airplanes I didnt get a checkout into. You idiot dont apply power on or off like a light switch, specially on a new airplane for you with more HP. Idiot destroyed an irreplaceable airplane from my PA state. Yank his pipilot license.