Saturday, September 07, 2019

Van's RV-12, N767FS: Fatal accident occurred September 06, 2019 in Lady Lake, Lake County, Florida

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Lady Lake, FL
Accident Number: ERA19FA265
Date & Time: 09/06/2019, 1312 EDT
Registration: N767FS
Aircraft: Vans RV-12
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On September 6, 2019, at 1312 eastern daylight time, a Vans Aircraft Inc. RV-12 airplane, N767FS, was destroyed when it impacted terrain in Lady Lake, Florida, shortly after takeoff from runway 27 at Love Field Airport (97FL), Weirsdale, Florida. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Yankee Flyers LLC under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated at 1311.

According to two pilots and one pilot/mechanic who were scheduled to practice a formation flight with the accident pilot, the accident pilot stated that he was unable to start his airplane's engine prior to the flight. The three pilots flew for about 45 minutes and returned to 97FL to debrief. The accident pilot joined them at the debrief and stated he had likely flooded his engine, and the group went to his hangar to assist him. They removed the upper cowling and top spark plugs from each cylinder. Two of the spark plugs were sooty, two were wet, and the mechanic considered all of them insufficiently torqued. They cleaned and reinserted the top spark plugs then decided to check the bottom spark plugs. After cleaning and reinserting the bottom spark plugs, the engine started on the first attempt. The mechanic asked the pilot to perform an ignition check and a full static rpm check, and the engine responded appropriately. The mechanic then asked the pilot to turn off the engine, then restart it. After a normal engine start, the pilot stated that he would fly the airplane around the pattern once. The group left him to replace the engine cowling, which they estimated took 30 minutes. One of the pilots observed the airplane taxi and take off, and noted that the engine "sounded good" as the airplane departed runway 27 and began a left turn. The mechanic reported that he heard the accident pilot perform an engine run-up before takeoff.

Preliminary Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) data revealed that the airplane departed runway 27, climbed to an altitude of about 1,000 ft in an enlarged left-hand traffic pattern. Near the end of the downwind leg, the recorded data indicated a brief initial climb, followed by a rapid descent to the ground, while the track remained consistent along the downwind leg heading.

Examination of the accident site and wreckage revealed that the airplane impacted a grass field in a near vertical nose down attitude about 1.8 nautical miles and 134° from the departure end of runway 27. All major components of the airplane were present at the accident site. The airplane was significantly fragmented and partially consumed by a postcrash fire. The wings came to rest with the leading edge down, and the right wingtip oriented toward a heading of about 135° magnetic. Two linear ground scars, consistent with the length of each wing, radiated from the center of the wreckage with the right wingtip scar oriented toward a heading of about 105°. The debris field extended about 120 ft from the main wreckage on a heading of about 80° and was surrounded by an area of burned grass about 200 ft long by 150 ft wide.

The engine and cockpit area were found in an impact crater about 2 ft deep. Both wings were crushed aft from the leading edge against the main spar, and from the trailing edge forward to the main spar. The right flaperon was impact and fire damaged, and the inboard half was separated from the wing. The left flaperon was impact and fire damaged and completely separated from the wing. The fuselage forward of the stabilator was severely fragmented and partially fire damaged. The stabilator, vertical stabilizer, and rudder were separated from the aft fuselage. The stabilator was largely intact, with most of the fire and damage near its center. The stabilator spar was fractured at midspan. The pitch trim tab remained attached to the stabilator; however, the input control rod and attachment bracket were fractured and separated from the trim tab. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer; it was damaged and the lower 4 inches of the trailing edge was bent toward the right. Flight control continuity was established from the stabilator and the rudder from the control surface to the cockpit controls. Flaperon control continuity could not be established due to impact and fire damage. Control push-pull rod ends remained attached at the main cockpit control tube, and on the flaperon input control tubes. The fuel selector valve was not located. The electric fuel boost pump was found sooted and thermally damaged. The nose landing gear was separated from the airplane and was found near the wing ground scars.

The propeller hub separated from the engine, and both blades separated from the hub. Three sections of propeller blades were located: one in the impact crater and two at 31 ft and 60 ft along the debris path. One blade section displayed chordwise scratching on the front side of the blade. One partial circumferential scrape mark was present on the front of the engine case near the main drive gear. The engine would not rotate by hand. A borescope inspection of all four cylinders revealed normal coloration and condition of the piston tops, cylinder walls, and valves. All rocker arms and valve spring assemblies remained intact and were undamaged. Cylinder head No. 3 was coated in soot. The gascolator was breached by a puncture, empty of fuel, and contained a small amount of debris in the filter screen. The inside of the gascolator bowl was sooted. Both carburetors were thermally damaged and separated from the engine and found hanging by their control cables. Each throttle control cable remained attached to its respective control arm on the carburetor. Both carburetor bowls were melted away and the floats were not present. Both sides remained in place but were unable to move. The sparkplug electrodes and insulators appeared normal and were clean, except for the No. 2 top spark plug which had white deposits on the bottom of the electrode. The Nos. 1 and 3 bottom spark plugs were slightly wet with oil. None of the intake or exhaust manifold tubing remained attached to the intake and exhaust ports of the engine. The muffler remained partially attached and the springs were in place, with the case, inlet and exit tubes partially damaged. The engine driven fuel pump remained attached to the engine case; however, the fittings were separated, and the ports were partially fractured. The pump was removed and could be rotated by hand with some binding. A small amount of debris was found inside the pump, primarily on the side exposed by the fractured fitting port.

Examination of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness records revealed that the airplane was manufactured by Van's Aircraft Inc. and issued experimental light sport airworthiness certificate on August 10, 2010. The single engine, low-wing airplane was designed to seat two occupants in a side-by-side seating configuration. It was constructed primarily from aluminum alloy materials and was powered by a 100-horsepower Rotax 912 ULS engine which drove a two-bladed, composite propeller. The airplane was equipped with a forward opening, tip-up canopy.

FAA records indicated that the pilot purchased the airplane in 2013. According to maintenance records, a condition inspection was completed on July 1, 2019, at which time the airplane had accrued 123.8 total hours.

The pilot held an FAA commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multi-engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot was operating under the provisions of Basic Med and his most recent physical examination was issued on June 1, 2017. In a 2018 aviation insurance application, the pilot reported 10,075 hours of total flight experience with 90 hours in the accident airplane make and model. Review of his logbook revealed that he had accrued 12.2 hours in the accident airplane since his most recent flight review on November 8, 2017.

At 1253, the recorded weather at the Leesburg Regional Airport, Leesburg, Florida, 8 nm southeast of the accident site, included wind from 270° at 6 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, a few clouds at 4,100 ft, temperature 33° C, dew point 22° C and an altimeter setting of 29.91 inches of mercury.

A Dynon primary flight display was removed from the airplane and forwarded to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Vehicle Recorder Laboratory for data recovery.

The airplane was retained for further NTSB examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Vans
Registration: N767FS
Model/Series: RV-12 No Series
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: Yankee Flyers LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KLEE, 759 ft msl
Observation Time: 1653 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 33°C / 22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 4100 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 270°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.91 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Lady Lake, FL (97FL)
Destination: Lady Lake, FL (97FL) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 28.945000, -81.869167