Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Loss of Control on Ground: Glasair II, N181AL; accident occurred July 15, 2017 at Meadow Lake Airport (KFLY), Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Accident Number: CEN17LA274
Date & Time: 07/15/2017, 1300 MDT
Registration: N181AL
Aircraft: Endler Glasair/Glasair 1-TD SH2
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 15, 2017, about 1300 mountain daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Endler Glasair SH2 (Glasair 1-TD), N181AL, ground looped and veered off runway 15 (6,000 feet by 60 feet, asphalt) during takeoff from Meadow Lake Airport (FLY), Colorado Springs, Colorado. The airplane impacted a taxiway light and was destroyed by fire. The pilot and passenger were uninjured. The airplane was registered to and operated by an individual under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.

The pilot stated that the airport automated weather observing system reported winds from 050 degrees at 7 knots, which was a "direct crosswind" to runways 15 and 33. The pilot decided to use runway 15 because an American Champion Decathlon or Citabria airplane "just landed" on runway 15, and runway 15 was the "favored runway" for the airport. The pilot said that there was a 1-2 knot tailwind for the accident takeoff. During the takeoff roll on runway 15, the airplane "continued to creep" to the left side of the runway even with application of [right] brake and rudder. The pilot made "one last big effort" to return the airplane to runway centerline, by "swerving." The airplane veered toward the left and off the runway surface. The airplane ground looped and a fire ensued from the right main landing gear well.

Post-accident examination of witness marks along runway 15 revealed a mark consistent with continued application of right main landing gear wheel brake. The airplane veered off the runway about 2,400 down the runway and struck a taxiway light. The grass area located about 10-20 feet preceding the taxiway light exhibited burning. The right main landing gear was collapsed under the fuselage. The airplane was equipped with a castering tailwheel with a locking pin. The tailwheel was not a steerable assembly.

The pilot said that the normal takeoff distance for the airplane was about 1,000 feet and when asked why the airplane impacted about 2,400 feet down the runway, he said "I don't know." He said that he discussed this in his analysis of the statement he provided. He said maybe it was an engine issue and did not know what the engine rpm was at the time of takeoff.

The airplane owner's manual states that the tailwheel locks in the straight position for takeoff and landing. In the unlocked position, the tailwheel full swivels 360 degrees. The airplane checklist states that the tailwheel is to be in the locked position for takeoff.

The National Transportation Safety Board Investigator-in-Charge asked the pilot what the maximum demonstrated crosswind velocity was for the airplane and the airplane's center of gravity (CG) location for the flight; the pilot said that he did not know the velocity and would check with the airplane owner and try to obtain the weight and balance form. The pilot said that based on the owner's information, the maximum demonstrated cross wind for the airplane was 15 knots. The pilot said his personal maximum crosswind velocity limit was 10 knots.

The airplane owner's manual does not cite a maximum demonstrated crosswind velocity but a recommended velocity of 20 mph.

The pilot said that the airplane weight and balance form was in the airplane and destroyed by the fire. The CG location for the flight could not be determined. The pilot said that the accident takeoff weight was about 470 lbs. He said that the fuel and passenger locations are roughly the moment arm from the airplane CG, so all weight has the same CG effect. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor
Age: 43, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/13/2017
Flight Time:  3400 hours (Total, all aircraft), 20 hours (Total, this make and model), 3000 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 50 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 25 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Endler Glasair/Glasair 1-TD
Registration: N181AL
Model/Series: SH2
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1988
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 181
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/06/2017, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1600 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1151.6 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320-E2A
Registered Owner: Individual
Rated Power:
Operator: Pilot
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: FLY, 6874 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1315 MDT
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots / 16 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 30°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.43 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 12°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Colorado Springs, CO (FLY)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Colorado Springs, CO (FLY)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1300 MDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Meadow Lake Airport (FLY)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 6873 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 15
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 6000 ft / 60 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 38.945833, -104.570000 (est)

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