Friday, July 12, 2019

ICON A5, N83BA: Accident occurred July 11, 2019 near Chicago Executive Airport (KPWK), Wheeling, Illinois

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Des Plaines, Illinois
ICON Aircraft; Vacaville, Canada
Rotech Flight Safety Ltd.; Vernon, British Columbia

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Wheeling, IL
Accident Number: CEN19LA220
Date & Time: 07/11/2019, 2042 CDT
Registration: N83BA
Aircraft: Icon A-5
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 11, 2019, about 2042 central daylight time, an amphibious Icon Aircraft A5 light sport airplane, N83BA, collided with trees and terrain during a forced landing near Wheeling, Illinois. The private pilot was not injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was owned by CG 422 LLC and operated under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 without a flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site. The cross-country flight departed Eagle Creek Airpark (EYE), Indianapolis, Indiana, at 1832, and was destined for Chicago Executive Airport (PWK), Wheeling, Illinois.

The pilot reported that he and his wife own two identical Icon Aircraft A5 airplanes, serial numbers 51 and 48, respectively. Earlier on the day of the accident, the pilot and his wife flew from St Louis Downtown Airport (CPS), Cahokia, Illinois, to EYE, in a loose formation. The pilot stated that both airplanes departed CPS with 17 gallons of fuel, as indicated on each airplane's fuel quantity gauge. The pilot reported that both airplanes had about 5 gallons of fuel remaining after completing the 2.9 hour flight from CPS to EYE. The pilot reported that the distance between CPS and EYE was about 202 nautical miles (nm) according to his flight planning software. After landing at EYE, the pilot had each airplane serviced with 12 gallons of fuel. After refueling, the fuel quantity gauge of each airplane indicated 17 gallons. The pilot reported that his flight planning software calculated 13 gallons of fuel was required for the estimated 2.4 hour flight from EYE to PWK. The pilot noted that the distance between EYE and PWK was about 165 nm, and that he expected to land at PWK with at least 4 gallons of fuel remaining.

The pilot reported that the flight from EYE to PWK was uneventful for about 2.3 hours at which time the engine began to lose power due to fuel exhaustion. The pilot stated that the loss of engine power occurred when the airplane was on a 3 mile left base leg for runway 16 at PWK. The pilot reported the engine subsequently had a total loss of power and a forced landing was made in a forest preserve about 1.2 miles from the airport. The airplane collided with trees and terrain during the forced landing, which resulted in substantial damage to the composite fuselage and wings. The pilot noted that his wife was able to safely land her airplane at PWK, and that her airplane had about 1.4 gallons (1.2 gallons usable) of fuel remaining after her 2.4 hour flight.

The airplane was powered by a Rotax 912iS Sport fuel injected 4-cylinder engine, rated at 100 hp at 5,800 rpm. The engine was equipped with an electric starter, dual-redundant ignition system, and a fully digital Engine Control Unit (ECU) that automatically adjusts fuel/air mixture throughout flight to maintain optimal performance, efficiency, and low emissions. The ECU also removes the need for a carburetor and associated mixture controls in the cockpit, making operation of the engine fully automatic for the pilot and eliminating the threat of carburetor icing. The commanded throttle position is sensed and transmitted to the ECU as a pilot request for specific power output. This signal is then combined with environmental inputs to provide the commanded response. The ECU adjusts the fuel/air mixture to ensure optimal performance. The normal operating range is from 1,700 to 5,500 rpm, with a redline of 5800 rpm.

The airplane's pilot operating handbook (POH) contains a flight limitation for a maximum continuous engine speed of 5,500 rpm. The POH also limits engine operation at 5,800 rpm to 5 minutes or less. The POH provides expected fuel consumption rates from sea level to 12,000 ft pressure altitude at engine speeds between 4,000 rpm and 5,500 rpm. According to the cruise performance tables, the expected fuel consumption rate at a cruise altitude of 3,000 ft and an engine speed of 5,500 rpm, with a standard temperature lapse rate, was about 5 gallons per hour. The POH does not provide fuel consumption rates for engine operations above 5,500 rpm.

The operator's manual for the Rotax 912iS engine states that the engine operates between two modes, economy and power, which have significantly different fuel consumption rates. The manual notes that the switchover between the economy and power modes occurs when the throttle position is advanced above 97%. In the economy mode, the expected fuel consumption rate was about 4.8 gallons per hour at 5,500 rpm and a manifold pressure of 27 inches of mercury. In the power mode, the expected fuel consumption rate was about 6.9 and 7.1 gallons per hour at 5,500 rpm and 5,800 rpm, respectively.

The airplane was equipped with a digital data module that recorded basic GPS, engine, and flight parameters. According to the recovered data, the airplane departed runway 3 at EYE and proceeded north-northwest toward PWK. A preliminary review of the available parameter data indicated that the flight from EYE to PWK was 2.3 hours at a cruise altitude of about 3,000 ft mean sea level (msl) and an engine manifold pressure of 26.5 to 27 inches of mercury. The engine data indicated that 60.4% of the flight, about 1.4 hours, was operated above 5,500 rpm. Additionally, the data indicated that about 74.6% of the flight, about 1.7 hours, was with the throttle positioned at or above 97% (where the engine normally switches between economy and power modes). The data indicated that about 52.5% of the flight, about 1.2 hours, was with the throttle positioned at 100%. Additionally, the engine had operated in power mode for 68.4% of the flight, about 1.6 hours.

A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the fuel tank did not contain any useable fuel and the low fuel annunciator light was illuminated. Water was added to the fuel tank in 1 gallon increments to verify the accuracy of the fuel quantity gauge. The test results indicated that the low fuel light turned off after 1.75 gallons of water was added to the fuel tank. Additionally, the test results indicated that the fuel quantity gauge indicated on average about 1 to 1.5 gallons higher than the actual tank quantity.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Icon
Registration: N83BA
Model/Series: A-5
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: CG 422 LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dusk
Observation Facility, Elevation: PWK, 647 ft msl
Observation Time: 2052 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 13°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots / , 80°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.98 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Indianapolis, IN (EYE)
Destination: Wheeling, IL (PWK)

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: 42.134722, -87.891667

Cook County Forest Preserve police block access to forest preserve drive near Dam No. 1 in the woods along the Des Plaines River near Chicago Executive Airport, Friday, July 12, 2019.

A small plane crashed in a Cook County forest preserve near Wheeling around 9 p.m. Thursday (July 11) while trying to land at Chicago Executive Airport.

It is believed the pilot was the only person aboard the plane when it crashed.

Chicago Executive Airport Executive Director Jamie Abbott said that the pilot survived the crash and was taken to Lutheran General Hospital last night.

The pilot of the Icon A5, a light sport aircraft, was attempting to land on Runway 16 at Chicago Executive Airport when the plane crashed 1.3 miles northeast of the airport, according to Tony Molinero, a spokesman for the FAA Great Lakes Region.

Abbott said that the pilot was in communication with the airport’s communication tower.

The FAA could not disclose further information related to the ongoing investigation.

Illinois State Police are also currently investigating the crash, according to Stacina Stagner, communications manager at Cook County Forest Preserves.

The plane has not yet been recovered from the forest preserve, Abbott said. It will be up to the pilot and his insurance company to determine how best to get it out.

Abbott said some of the potential options include removing trees or airlifting the plane out of the treetops.

Original article ➤

Prospect Heights, Wheeling, and Northbrook firefighter/paramedics responded about 8:47 p.m. Thursday July 11, 2019 to a report from the Chicago Executive Airport control tower that a small plane apparently crashed, and was last seen a quarter mile northeast of the airport. Initially, the control tower report was the only call to 9-1-1. The control tower reported the aircraft was last seen over the top of trees. 

Wheeling police reported the pilot was the only person aboard the plane, and that initially he showed no signs of injuries. The elapsed time to located the pilot and the plane crash site was about 18 minutes from the time of the 9-1-1 call from the control tower. Rescuers determined the crash scene was located in dense trees about half-way between the Des Plaines River and Interstate 294, and about 1,350 feet south of Dundee Road. Emergency vehicles from several police agencies, Wheeling and Prospect Heights fire agencies, and airport support vehicles lined up along the shoulder lane of eastbound Dundee Road. The emergency operation did not require a road closure for Dundee Road.

Initially there was no information available regarding where the flight originated. NBC’s Natalie Martinez reported that they were also “aggressively” asked to leave the airport property. NBC’s Natalie Martinez and crew weren’t able to get any official information from the airport, but NBC and WGN were able to review the tower communications online and reported that Chicago Executive Airport control tower communications just before the crash involved two pilots that were approaching in tandem in two separate aircraft. A male pilot reported he was low on fuel, and was trailing an aircraft piloted by a female pilot. After the female pilot landed, she asked about the other pilot named Tom when she realized he didn’t land as expected.

After the pilot crashed, rescuers did not get a pinpointed report of the location of the crash — only that the aircraft was about one-quarter mile northeast of the airport, and possibly near I-294 and Dundee Road. Firefighters were also dispatched to search Dam 1 Woods near Dundee Road east of the Des Plaines River. Firefighters also searched the woods north of Dundee Road east of Portwine Road until it was confirmed that the pilot was south of Dundee Road. 

At 8:58 p.m. the pilot contacted the control tower, and reported he was safely out of the plane. At 9:05 p.m. firefighters were able to identify a cell phone ping from the pilot’s 9-1-1 call between Dam 1 Road and I-294, south of Dundee Road. Firefighters shared screen shots of the location on their phones. 

Police found the pilot and joined the pilot in the woods by 9:21 p.m. Police and firefighters escorted the pilot out of the woods, and the pilot reached the shoulder of eastbound Dundee Road by about 9:40 p.m. 

A Wheeling fire lieutenant encouraged the pilot to be evaluated by firefighter/paramedics as he was walked out of the thick woods with rescuers. 

The pilot, wearing an Icon A5 aircraft T-shirt was placed on a gurney and transferred to an awaiting Wheeling Fire Department ambulance. He was then transported by Wheeling firefighter/paramedics to Glenbrook Hospital.

Story and video ➤

CHICAGO (CBS) — Emergency responders were on scene after a small plane crash was reported in a wooded area in Wheeling near Chicago Executive Airport Thursday night.

The plane reportedly went down near Milwaukee Avenue.

A spokesperson for the airport said the flight did not originate there and officials were still working to gather information.

Video from the scene showed what appeared to be the pilot walking out of the woods between two police officers.

Story and video ➤


  1. Maybe wearing sunglasses at night isn't such a good idea.

  2. People like this have made me leave the business

  3. "I fully expect every A5 built to wind up in an accident eventually. It's part of the Icon culture."
    I made this comment on the July 7th (5 days ago) crash of an A5 before this story even published. This is one time I don't want to be right.

  4. 90 have been built... I think I count at least 10 crashes so far including 2 fatal.

    that means more than 10% of the fleet has been destroyed. And more than 3% chance of dying in one (3 dead i.e 2 in that lake and that baseball player).

  5. Very good article on the A5 and risks associated with an non IFR LSA with newbie pilots exposed to all the usual suspects i.e getherithis, LOC, CFIT, SA...

  6. Those glasses are probably thermal imaging. Helps bring in the plane when you have a problem, like this incident. Flight of two, at least the one other landed safely.

  7. Apparently this is a husband and wife couple each flying their own icon a5. The wife landed fine at the airport. The husband did not.

  8. If this is indeed a husband/wife team, can you imagine the ride home. “When I say ‘Bingo fuel’ is that too much for you to process while you land first?”

  9. The wife is also in trouble --- she landed only 15 minutes of fuel left.

  10. Proper flight planning would see 4+ usable gallons of fuel remaining at landing. The regs are pretty clear that you're supposed to have 45 min. available at landing. 1-5-2 gal. is not 45 min. by a long shot.

  11. The husband just got a brand new Icon A5 (N843BA) to replace the one he crashed.

    It's like he has a death wish --- because he put an extra "4" on his tail (which even non-Chinese people knows that it's a death number).