Sunday, August 18, 2019

Loss of Engine Power (Total): Piper PA-22-108, N5581Z; accident occurred October 20, 2018 in Brownstown, Jackson County, Indiana



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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Indianapolis, Indiana

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


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


https://registry.faa.gov/N5581Z



Location: Brownstown, IN
Accident Number: ERA19LA022
Date & Time: 10/20/2018, 0030 EDT
Registration: N5581Z
Aircraft: Piper PA22
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 20, 2018, about 0030 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-22-108, N5581Z, was substantially damaged when it impacted wooded terrain during a forced landing near Brownstown, Indiana. The student pilot was not injured. The airplane was operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed from Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport (UMP), Indianapolis, Indiana, on October 19, 2018, about 2230.

According to the student pilot, he departed from his home airport of Crossville Memorial Airport-Whitson Field (CSV), Crossville, Tennessee, about 0730 on October 19, 2018, destined for UMP. He reported that the flight was uneventful, and he had the fuel tank topped off when he arrived at UMP. He spent the remainder of the day in the Indianapolis area for business. About 2230, after a normal preflight inspection and run-up, he departed to return to CSV.

While enroute, about 60 miles south of UMP flying southbound at 3,000 ft mean sea level, he had just completed maneuvering around restricted airspace, and suddenly the airplane lost all electrical power. He stated in an "instant" everything went "black." Then, a few seconds later, the "engine just went quiet." He reported that he cycled the master electrical switch "up and down" from the spare fuse to the main fuse, and the engine starter switch from the both to off position a "couple of times," but power was not restored to either system. He reported that it was "very dark" when the failure occurred, and the only light he could see inside the cockpit was from his dimmed tablet computer. He subsequently navigated to a dark area below his flight path, hoping that it was an open field. The airplane impacted a heavily wooded area, and just prior to impact, he observed 68 knots groundspeed displayed on his tablet computer.

The student pilot reported that his flight instructor was not aware of his solo cross-country flights, nor had his instructor provided him with logbook endorsements for the solo cross-country flights.

An airframe and powerplant mechanic reported that the student pilot discussed the accident flight with him, two days after the event. The mechanic reported that the student pilot told him, while enroute with the landing and taxi lights on, the cockpit panel lights on bright, and his cell phone and tablet charging from the airplane's electrical system, the cockpit suddenly went black. In response, he said that he reached up and turned the magneto switch off. The student said the propeller was spinning at this time. The student said he subsequently moved the electrical master switch's position, and the magneto switch's position, but electrical power, nor engine power, were restored.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector who examined the airplane at the accident site, the airplane impacted a heavily wooded area and came to rest upright. The engine was co-located with the firewall, and both wings had separated from the fuselage and were found along the debris path. The empennage remained attached to the fuselage and sustained impact damage. The single fuel tank was breached, but a residual amount of fuel remained in the tank and the accident site smelled of aviation fuel. The fuel selector was found in the ON position. The throttle, mixture, and carburetor heat levers were all found full forward.

The propeller remained attached to the propeller hub. When visually examined, fuel was observed in the carburetor bowl. The propeller was rotated by hand, and thumb-compression was confirmed on all cylinders, with exception to the number 3 cylinder. The engine had sustained impact damage and could not rotate through a complete revolution. The top spark plugs were removed and examined, and each were consistent with normal operating wear. The bottom number 1- and 3-cylinder spark plugs appeared oil soaked, which was attributed to how the engine came to rest on its right side. The bottom 2- and 4-cylinder spark plugs were consistent with normal operating wear. Both magnetos were removed and each produced spark when rotated by hand.

None of the electrical system's resettable circuit breakers were found extended. The main and spare fuses were located under the pilot seat. The master switch was found in the down position, which coincided with a selection to the spare fuse. When examined at the accident site, the spare fuse was found to be blown, and the electrical system would not turn on when tested with the switch selected to the spare fuse. When the electrical system was operated on the main fuse, the system powered on. The main fuse was removed and placed in the location where the spare fuse was located, and when the master switch was selected to the main fuse now installed in the spare fuse location, the electrical system powered on.

According to FAA airman records, the pilot held a student pilot certificate. He was issued a third-class medical certificate in April 2018. The student pilot reported that he had about 120 hours of total flight time, all of which were in the accident make and model airplane.

According to FAA airworthiness records, the high-wing airplane was powered by a Lycoming O-235-C1 engine and had 2 seats. The most recent annual inspection was completed in January 2018.

The airplane's owner manual stated in part:

Electrical System

Electrical power for the Colt is supplied by a 12 volt, direct current system. For all normal operations, power is provided by a 12 volt, 25 ampere generator. A 12 volt, 24 ampere hour battery is used in the system to furnish power for starting and as a reserve power source in case of generator failure.

The electrical system description in the airplane owner's manual also described that the fuse block contained two 30-amp fuses. The manual did not state which fuse normal operations should be conducted with. The accident airplane was equipped with a placard located next to the master switch that stated the main fuse was in the up position, off was in the center position, and the spare fuse was in the down position. The owner's manual did not provide procedures for an electrical failure.

The weather conditions reported at 0035 at Madison Municipal Airport (IMS), Madison, Indiana, about 28 miles east of the accident site, included an overcast ceiling at 500 ft, visibility 7 statute miles, wind from 250° at 7 knots, temperature 10°C, and dew point 9°C. Weather conditions reported at 0053 at Monroe County Airport (BMG), Bloomington, Indiana, about 30 miles northwest of the accident site, included an overcast ceiling at 300 ft, visibility 6 statute miles, mist, wind from 250° at 7 knots, temperature 9°C, and dew point 9°C. The student pilot reported that the visibility was good in the area he was operating, he remained clear of clouds, and had ground contact for the entire flight.

According to FAA Advisory Circular 61-65, Certification: Pilots and Flight and Ground Instructors, a student pilot must have an endorsement for each solo cross-country flight. Review of the student's logbook revealed he was not endorsed for outbound or return (accident) solo cross-country flight. The student's flight instructor reported that he was not made aware of the student's solo cross-country flights until after the accident.

Student Pilot Information

Certificate: Student
Age: 31, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/17/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 120 hours (Total, all aircraft), 120 hours (Total, this make and model)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N5581Z
Model/Series: PA22 108
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1962
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 22-9383
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/18/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1650 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2524.6 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-235-C1
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 135 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night/Dark
Observation Facility, Elevation: KIMS, 790 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 28 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0035 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 100°
Lowest Cloud Condition:  / 500 ft agl
Visibility:  7 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 500 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 7 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 250°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 10°C / 9°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Indianapolis, IN (UMP)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Crossville, TN (CSV)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 2230 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 38.842778, -86.063889 (est)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

What did I just read? Really?

Anonymous said...

So the student pilot was flying the plane all around at his own leisure as if he had his pilot's license. He is lucky to be alive but it's too bad there is one less GA legacy plane now. These planes are crashing at a rate quicker than new ones are replacing them and soon will come the day when the only ones able to fly will be the extremely wealthy flying Cirrus's and it won't be this guy.

Anonymous said...

120hrs and still a student pilot? Sounds like another person too confident in his abilities to crack the books and take the exam.

Anonymous said...

Just another event justifying mechanics and flight instructors getting out of the business.

People do not realize who they put at risk when they are so selfish.

CFI no mo' said...

Makes no sense to switch mags to off.

Anonymous said...

"People do not realize who they put at risk when they are so selfish".
It would appear that the pilot's only infraction was not having a cross-country endorsement prior to the accident flight. This infraction did not increase the danger to anyone, including the accident pilot.
With 120 hours under his belt this student pilot was likely to be as competent as any other 120 hour pilot in surviving a night-time engine-out event. He is lucky to be alive, but his student pilot status and/or lack of endorsement for the flight had nothing to do with it. The unlucky part is that his aircraft engine caused him to get caught.

Anonymous said...

So basically he switched the mags off and fumbled with the clunky fuse box ?
The pilot was a chancer and is lucky to be alive.

Anonymous said...

He probably would have run into IFR conditions and lost control and killed himself if he hadn't shout off the engineso in that way he was lucky. Did I read that he was flying with the landing lights and all the cockpit lights on. I guess the 25 amp generator couldn't keep the battery charged. I hope he never steps foot in another airplane and I hope the FAA lowers the boom on him. It's characters like him that give all of private flying a bad name.

Anonymous said...

When I was a student pilot 4 years ago, I was not allowed to fly at night without an instructor nor would I have wanted to. Also flying at night with the dash lights on high destroys your night vision and is dangerous. So many things wrong with this story, I agree with the above poster and feel I this pilot would get his license we may read about him on this site flying VFR into IMC and killing everyone on his plane.