Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Diamond DA-20C-1 Eclipse, N346MA: Accident occurred December 19, 2018 near McCormick County Airport (S19), South Carolina

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; West Columbia, South Carolina
Continental Aerospace Technologies; Mobile, Alabama 
Falcon Aviation Maintenance; Newnan, Georgia 

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


Location: McCormick, SC 
Accident Number: ERA19LA074
Date & Time: 12/19/2018, 1420 EST
Registration: N346MA
Aircraft: Diamond DA20
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Flight Test 

On December 19, 2018, about 1420 eastern standard time, a Diamond DA20, N346MA, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a partial loss of engine power in McCormick, South Carolina. The private pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the post maintenance test flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The airplane was owned and operated by Falcon Aviation Academy. The flight departed McCormick County Airport (S19), McCormick South Carolina about 1400, destined for Newnan Coweta County Airport (CCO), Atlanta, Georgia.

On the day prior to the accident, another pilot performed a precautionary landing at S19 due to a loss of engine power. According to the accident pilot, who also held a mechanic certificate, he was dispatched to S19 to diagnose and repair the airplane on the accident day. After checking the oil quantity, he started and ran the engine, which was "not running smoothly." He connected test equipment to the fuel injected engine and determined that the unmetered fuel pressure was above the manufacturer specified limits at 1,000 RPM, and the metered fuel pressure was below the specified limits at full power. He then iteratively replaced the fuel servo, the engine driven fuel pump, and the fuel distribution manifold. After replacing the fuel distribution manifold, he was able to adjust both fuel pressures to within the specified limits. He was then able to run the engine satisfactorily at idle, during a normal run-up, and at full power. He asked a coworker to check his work, which was found satisfactory with no fuel leaks observed.

Prior to takeoff, the pilot performed a preflight inspection and sumped each fuel drain three times to ensure there was no debris or contamination and found none. He checked the fuel quantity and noted that the single tank was about ¾ full. He started the engine and performed a normal run-up before back taxiing for a full-length departure from runway 36.

The pilot initially remained in the traffic pattern until he was satisfied that the engine was performing normally. He then began to climb and proceed toward CCO. At an altitude of between about 3,000 to 3,500 feet, the engine lost partial power. The engine speed reduced from about 2,500 to 1,000 RPM and would not respond to throttle input. The pilot ensured that the mixture was rich and the fuel boost pump was on, and attempted to adjust the throttle but was unsuccessful. He turned the airplane back toward S19 and prepared for an emergency landing. While on a final leg to runway 36, he realized that he would be unable to reach the runway and attempted to land in a clearing about 1 mile southwest of S19. During the attempted landing the airplane struck trees.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the left wing was completely separated from the fuselage at the root. A large section of roof and canopy was fragmented.

The engine was subsequently examined at the manufacturer's facility under oversight of the NTSB. The engine was installed on a test stand and found to run very rough and would not idle. The engine would remain running only when the test stand fuel boost pressure was increased beyond the normal values. The throttle body was removed from the engine and tested on a production test bench, where the fuel flow parameter was below the acceptable range at all throttle positions. The throttle body was disassembled and a piece of green debris about 1/16" square was found in the metering plug orifice and obstructed about 90% of the orifice area. The debris was removed, the throttle body was reassembled and reinstalled on the engine. All subsequent engine test runs appeared normal.

An examination of the fuel manifold valve that was removed from the airplane on the day before the accident revealed several pieces of debris on the downstream side of the manifold filter screen. The debris appeared to be identical in color to the debris found in the accident throttle body, however, the particle size was much smaller.

The debris found in the throttle body was sent to the NTSB materials lab for further examination.

According to aircraft maintenance records, the most recent 100-hour inspection was performed on December 3, 2018, at which time the airplane had accrued a total 10,663 hours, and the engine had accrued 1,931 hours since overhaul. The engine accrued about 59 hours since that inspection.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine and multiengine land. His most recent second-class medical certificate was issued on October 10, 2017. The pilot reported 212 hours of total flight experience of which about 45 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Diamond
Registration: N346MA
Model/Series: DA20 C1
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Falcon Aviation Academy Llc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot School (141)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KGRD, 631 ft msl
Observation Time: 1356 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 23 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 3400 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Light and Variable / , Variable
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.07 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: McCormick, SC (S19)
Destination: Atlanta, GA (CCO)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 33.885556, -82.277500 (est)

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