Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Piper PA-28-180, N2360R: Accident occurred June 21, 2019 at Marine City Airport (76G), St. Clair County, Michigan

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; East Michigan FSDO; Belleville, Michigan

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Cottrellville Township, MI

Accident Number: CEN19LA179
Date & Time: 06/21/2019, 1900 EDT
Registration: N2360R
Aircraft: PIPER PA28
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On June 21, 2019, about 1900 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180 airplane, N2360R, impacted trees and terrain during a forced landing in Cottrellville Township, Michigan. The private pilot sustained serious injuries, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight that departed Oakland County International Airport (PTK) at 1838 with the intended destination Marine City Airport (76G), Marine City, Michigan.

The pilot reported that he had refueled (topped-off) both fuel tanks before flying from 76G to PTK to deliver some paperwork to his son. The pilot stated that the airplane had used 4 to 6 gallons of fuel during the flight from 76G to PTK, and that about 45 gallons of fuel were remaining for his return flight. The pilot selected the right fuel tank shortly before takeoff from runway 27 at PTK. After takeoff, the pilot flew a direct route to 76G, which took about 20-25 minutes. The pilot reported that as he approached 76G he transmitted on the airport's common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) that he would make a right base for a full stop landing on runway 4. The pilot stated that he "couldn't get the plane to line up to turn final" and decided to continue the base leg for a go-around. The pilot reported that the airplane had descended below a normal traffic pattern altitude, so he attempted to move the throttle forward to increase engine power; however, the throttle control lever remained stuck near an idle power setting, regardless of how hard he pushed the throttle forward. The pilot stated that the engine power setting, between 1,800 and 2,200 rpm, was insufficient to maintain altitude. The pilot recalled that the propeller was still rotating, and that the engine continued to run smoothly. The pilot reported that the flaps were extended for landing, the fuel mixture control lever was set to full rich, the electric fuel pump was off, and the carburetor heat control was off. The pilot stated that the last thing he remembers was the airplane flying over trees during the attempted go-around.

The wreckage was examined by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors with the Eastern Michigan Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). The main wreckage was in an open field consisting of tall grass and trees. The wreckage debris path was oriented on a west heading. The nose landing gear had separated from the fuselage about 80 ft east of the main wreckage. Both wings had separated from the fuselage. The fuselage was oriented on a 108° magnetic heading. All airframe structural components and flight control surfaces were located along the wreckage debris path or amongst the main wreckage. All observed structural component separations were consistent with overstress and there was no evidence of an inflight or postimpact fire. Flight control cable continuity could not be established due to impact damage; however, all observed separations were consistent with overstress.

A fuel sample obtained from the right tank was blue in color, consistent with 100-low lead aviation fuel, with no evidence of water or particulate contamination. Fuel was recovered from the fuel selector, the outflow fuel line from the fuel selector, and the carburetor. The fuel selector valve was positioned to draw fuel from the right tank, and a functional test of the fuel shutoff valve did not reveal any anomalies. The firewall mounted gascolator had shattered during impact. The ignition switch was on BOTH, the carburetor heat control was off, the flap control was retracted, and the electric fuel boost pump was off.

The throttle control linkage was continuous from the cockpit lever to the carburetor throttle arm. The throttle lever was positioned halfway between the idle stop and max power. The throttle friction lock was fully engaged (pushed down). The FAA Inspectors were initially unable to move the throttle lever through its full travel due to impact related damage to the engine mounts, exhaust, and the intake air box. The throttle cable moved freely between the idle stop and max power after the exhaust was removed, the intake airbox was bent into normal position, and the throttle cable mount at the carburetor throttle arm was disconnected. The carburetor discharged fuel when the throttle arm was cycled multiple times. There were no anomalies noted with the fuel mixture or carburetor heat control cables.

The engine remained attached to the firewall mounts. The engine mounts exhibited impact related damage. The two-blade propeller remained attached to the crankshaft, and the blades exhibited chordwise scratches and burnishing, blade twist toward low-pitch, and leading edge impact damage. Internal engine and valve train continuity were confirmed as the crankshaft was rotated through the propeller. Compression and suction were noted on all four cylinders in conjunction with crankshaft rotation. The upper spark plugs were removed and exhibited features consistent with normal engine operation. The lower spark plug for the number 4 cylinder exhibited black soot or oil deposits. The remaining lower spark plugs exhibited features consistent with normal engine operation. Both magnetos remained firmly attached to the crankcase. No anomalies were noted with either magneto when removed and bench tested. The engine crankshaft flange was bent significantly, which prevented a comprehensive test run. The examination did not reveal any preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal engine operation during the flight.

A postaccident review of available meteorological data established that day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site. The nearest aviation weather reporting station was located at Selfridge Air National Guard Base (MTC), Mount Clemens, Michigan, about 12 nautical miles west-southwest of the accident site. At 1856, about 4 minutes before the accident, the MTC automated surface observing system reported: wind 070° at 11 knots, 10 miles surface visibility, few clouds at 5,500 ft above ground level (agl), scattered clouds at 25,000 ft agl, temperature 20°C, dew point 14°C, and an altimeter setting 29.99 inches of mercury.

According to a carburetor icing probability chart contained in FAA Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin CE-09-35, entitled "Carburetor Icing Prevention", the recorded temperature and dew point were in the range of susceptibility for the formation of serious carburetor icing at glide engine power. Additionally, if ice forms in the carburetor of a fixed pitch propeller aircraft, the restriction to the induction airflow will reduce power and result in a drop of engine rpm. According to the bulletin, a pilot should use carburetor heat when operating the engine at low power settings, or while in weather conditions where carburetor icing is probable.

The pilot did not possess a current medical certificate. He applied for an aviation medical certificate on March 3, 2016; however, the aviation medical examiner deferred the issuance of the medical certificate to the FAA Aeromedical Division. On June 27, 2016, the FAA sent a letter to the pilot requesting additional medical documentation to be provided in support of his application for an aviation medical certificate. The pilot did not reply to the FAA letter nor did he provide the requested medical documentation. On August 31, 2016, the pilot's application for a medical certificate was denied due to his failure to provide the requested medical documentation. On June 27, 2017, the pilot and his personal physician completed the BasicMed Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist. The pilot also completed the BasicMed online education course. On August 11, 2017, the FAA Airmen Certificate Branch sent a letter to the pilot informing him that he did not meet the requirements for BasicMed (Title 14 CFR Part 61.113) and that operation of an aircraft without a valid aviation medical certificate could result in suspension or revocation of his pilot certificate.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N2360R
Model/Series: PA28 180
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
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: MTC, 580 ft msl
Observation Time: 1856 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 20°C / 14°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 5500 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots / , 70°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.99 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Pontiac, MI (PTK)
Destination: Marine City, MI (76G)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 42.717222, -82.611389

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