Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Aerodynamic Stall / Spin: Vans RV-6A, N820TL, fatal accident occurred March 31, 2018 near Santa Paula Airport (KSZP), Ventura County, California

Ted (Theodore) Edward Dopler
November 30, 1957 ~ March 31, 2018
Ted was an avid pilot and aviation enthusiast.

Jody Lee Smith
Jody Lee Smith, age 58, of Lancaster, California entered into rest on March 31st, 2018. 


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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys, California

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N820TL



Location: Santa Paula, CA
Accident Number: WPR18FA116
Date & Time: 03/31/2018, 1408 PDT
Registration: N820TL
Aircraft: Ragle RV6A
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Aerodynamic stall/spin
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On March 31, 2018, about 1408 Pacific daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Ragle RV6A, N820TL, was destroyed when it impacted terrain near Santa Paula Airport (SZP), Santa Paula, California. The private pilot and the pilot-rated passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was registered to the pilot who was operating it as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated from Rosamond, California, at an undetermined time with a reported destination of SZP.

Witnesses located near the accident site and at SZP reported multiple airplanes in the airport traffic pattern, with the accident airplane number one for the approach to the runway. The witnesses observed the accident airplane on downwind for runway 22 and, as the airplane neared an area about where the turn to the base leg would be performed, it entered a steep left turn, followed by a spin and descent into the ground. Shortly after impact, a postcrash fire ensued.



Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 60, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/18/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 10/07/2017
Flight Time: 491.6 hours (Total, all aircraft), 312.1 hours (Total, this make and model)



Pilot-Rated Passenger Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 58, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s):None 
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/27/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 368.7 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

Pilot

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class airman medical certificate was issued to the pilot on May 18, 2016, with a limitation of "must wear corrective lenses." At the time of his most recent medical application, the pilot reported that he had accumulated 362.9 hours of flight experience, of which 35.6 hours were in the previous 6 months. The most recent entry in the pilot's logbook was dated March 16, 2018. At that time, he had accumulated 491.6 hours of flight experience, of which 312.1 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane.

Passenger

The passenger held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane rating. An FAA third-class airman medical certificate was issued to the pilot on February 27, 2018, with a limitation of "must wear corrective lenses for near vision." At the time of his most recent medical application, the pilot reported that he had accumulated 368.7 hours of flight experience, with none in the previous 6 months.




Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Ragle
Registration: N820TL
Model/Series: RV6A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2003
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 60312
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/16/2017, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 646.9 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Superior
ELT: C91A installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-360-B1A2
Registered Owner:On file 
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The two-seat, low-wing, fixed-gear experimental amateur-built airplane, serial number 60312, was completed in 2003. It was powered by a Superior EXP O-360-B1A2 engine, rated at 180 horsepower, and was equipped with a Hartzell two-bladed constant speed propeller. Review of the airframe and engine logbooks revealed the most recent condition inspection was completed on April 16, 2017, at an engine and airframe total time of 646.9 hours. The most recent fueling records were not available.

Weight and balance calculations were performed using the most recent aircraft weight and balance data, dated March 15, 2003, and reported occupant weights at various fuel loads. Additionally, the weight and balance document within the aircraft records stated the maximum gross weight of the airplane was 1,750 lbs, compared to the kit manufactuers maximum gross weight of 1,650 lbs. At full fuel (38 gallons), gross weight was about 1,771 lbs with a center of gravity of 75.92 inches. At 17 gallons of fuel, the gross weight about 1,645 lbs with a center of gravity of 76.37 inches. At 10 gallons of fuel, the gross weight was about 1,603 lbs with a center of gravity of 76.54 inches. The published center of gravity limits were 68.7 inches (forward) to 76.8 inches (aft).




Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCMA, 65 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2055 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 193°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 3 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: Variable
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 11°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Rosamond, CA
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Santa Paula, CA (SZP)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 
Type of Airspace: Class G

At 1355, the Camarillo Airport (CMA), Camarillo, California, automated weather observation station, located about 8 miles south of the accident site, reported wind variable at 3 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear sky, temperature 64°F, dew point 11°F, and an altimeter setting of 30.02 inches of mercury.

Airport Information

Airport: SANTA PAULA (SZP)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 248 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 22
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2713 ft / 60 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Traffic Pattern

SZP is a public, nontowered airport in Santa Paula, California, at a surveyed elevation of 243 ft. The airport has an asphalt runway 04/22, which is 2,713 ft by 60 ft. The published traffic pattern for runway 22 is left traffic. The common traffic advisory frequency is not recorded.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 34.345278, -119.047500 

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted trees, a brick wall, and terrain about 0.7 mile east of SZP. The initial point of impact was identified by separated tree limbs about 20 ft above the ground, and an adjacent brick wall about 8 ft high was also struck during the impact sequence. Severed tree limbs, plexiglass, canopy structure, and various debris were located throughout the debris path, which was about 30 ft long and oriented on a heading of about 160° magnetic. The main wreckage came to rest upright on a heading of about 043° magnetic.

Examination of the fuselage revealed that the center portion of the fuselage from the instrument panel to the bulkhead aft of the seats was mostly consumed by fire. The fuselage structure from the bulkhead aft of the seats to the forward part of the vertical stabilizer, was buckled and compressed inward with an almost circular impression. The empennage was slightly displaced left. The vertical stabilizer and rudder remained attached via their mounts, with the vertical stabilizer buckled throughout. The bottom 7 inches of the rudder was displaced left and crushed upward. The left horizontal remained partially attached by the rear spar attach point and the outboard 24 inches were buckled and bent slightly upward. The right elevator remained attached via its mounts, with the outboard 29 inches buckled and bent throughout. The trim tab remained attached to its mounts. The trim tab actuator screw was extended about ½ inch from the forward side of the unit. The right horizontal stabilizer remained attached via both its mounts. The right elevator was bent and buckled throughout, and the trailing edge was bent upward.

The left wing was mostly separated from the fuselage. The forward spar attach point remained attached to the fuselage and was cut during wreckage recovery. The wing was bent and buckled throughout. The wing at the flap/aileron junction was bowed with both the inboard and outboard portion of the wings bent downward. The flap and aileron remained attached via their mounts. The outboard half of the aileron was crushed inward.

The right wing was mostly consumed by fire. The right main spar remained attached to the fuselage, however, most of the wing structure aft of the spar was separated. The aileron remained attached via all its mounts and exhibited fire damage. The flap remained attached to the wing structure.

Elevator control continuity was established from the elevators forward to the bell crank located just aft of the cabin seating area; the rod end was separated between the bell crank and torque tube, and elevator control continuity continued from the bell crank forward to the control column. Rudder control continuity was established from the rudder to the rudder pedals; however, the left rudder cable was separated just aft of the rudder pedals and exhibited splayed signatures, consistent with overload. Aileron control continuity was established from the left aileron through the bell crank to the inboard portion of the wing where the torque tube was separated, consistent with impact damage, and continued to the left control stick. The right aileron control cable was continuous through the bell crank to about mid span of the flap where the torque tube was separated, consistent with impact damage; the torque tube continued to the right control stick. The interconnect for the left and right control sticks was impact and fire damaged. Both flap rod end bearings were separated. The flap actuator measured about 2.25 inches in length, consistent with about one-half flaps, or about 20°.

Examination of the engine revealed that it remained attached to the forward portion of the airframe via its mounts. All of the engine accessories remained attached to the engine, and all ignition leads were secure to their respective spark plugs. The upper spark plugs exhibited wear and color consistent with normal operation. All four cylinders were examined internally using a lighted borescope with no anomalies noted. The crankshaft was rotated by hand using the propeller. Rotational continuity was established throughout the engine and valve train. Thumb compression was obtained on all 4 cylinders. The oil suction screen was free of debris. The oil filter was consumed by fire.

The left and right magnetos exhibited fire damage, which precluded functional testing.

The carburetor was thermally discolored and damaged. The throttle and mixture levers were connected via their respective control arms and moved freely from stop to stop. The fuel finger screen was free of debris. The internal floats were consumed by fire. The venturi was partially melted. The fuel inlet line was secure at the carburetor fitting.

Examination of the propeller revealed that it remained attached to the engine crankshaft. One propeller blade was slightly bent forward about ¾ span from the blade root. The propeller tip was curled 180° aft and exhibited leading edge gouges and scoring. The opposing propeller blade exhibited bending opposite direction of the rotation about mid span outward and exhibited leading edge gouging and chordwise striations on the front side of the blade near the tip. The propeller blade exhibited thermal damage and discoloration.

The examination revealed no evidence of preexisting mechanical malfunction or failures that would have precluded normal operation of the engine or airframe.

For further information, see the NTSB Accident Site, Airframe, and Engine Examination Report in the public docket.

Medical And Pathological Information

Pilot

An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office, Ventura, California. His cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries.

Toxicology testing performed at the FAA Forensic Sciences Laboratory was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs.

Passenger

An autopsy of the passenger was performed by the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office, Ventura, California. His cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries.

Toxicology testing performed at the FAA Forensic Sciences Laboratory identified an unspecified level of naproxen in the urine, 0.032 (µg/mL, µg/g) of diphenhydramine in the blood, and an unspecified level of diphenhydramine in the urine. Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms and as a sleep aid. It is available over the counter under the names Benadryl and Unisom. Diphenhydramine carries the following Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning: may impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., driving, operating heavy machinery). Compared to other antihistamines, diphenhydramine causes marked sedation; it is also classed as a CNS depressant and this is the rationale for its use as a sleep aid. Altered mood and impaired cognitive and psychomotor performance may also be observed. The levels of diphenhydramine thought most likely to cause effects are between 0.0250 and 0.1120 ug/ml. Naproxen is an over the counter analgesic commonly marketed with the name Aleve. It is also available by prescription, most often with the name Naprosyn. It is not generally considered impairing.

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