Thursday, December 19, 2019

Loss of Control in Flight: Cessna 172L Skyhawk, N1079M; accident occurred July 16, 2019 at Grand Canyon National Park Airport (KGCN), Arizona

View of left wing damage.
Federal Aviation Administration

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Las Vegas, Nevada

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Grand Canyon, AZ
Accident Number:GAA19CA424 
Date & Time: 07/16/2019, 1030 MST
Registration: N1079M
Aircraft: Cessna 172
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 4 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The pilot reported that, during approach to land, he corrected for a left crosswind. After crossing the threshold, he reduced power and as the airplane was about to touchdown, it "rolled" left, and the left wing struck the runway. He added that the airplane immediately "righted itself" and that he then landed it.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The airport's automated weather observation station reported that, about 36 minutes before the accident, the wind was from 210° at 11 knots, gusting to 19 knots. The same automated station reported that, about 24 minutes after the accident, the wind was from 210° at 17 knots, gusting to 25 knots, with a peak wind reported 3 minutes after the accident from 220° at 27 knots. The pilot landed the airplane on runway 21. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain lateral control during landing in gusting wind conditions, which resulted in the left wing striking the ground.


Lateral/bank control - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Gusts - Effect on operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Loss of control in flight (Defining event)
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 71, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/21/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 08/15/2018
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 379 hours (Total, all aircraft), 143 hours (Total, this make and model), 287 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 7 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N1079M
Model/Series: 172 L
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Utility
Serial Number: 17259802
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/28/2019, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2300 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 14694 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320-E2D
Registered Owner: Unique Equipment Leasing Llc
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operator: West Air Aviation
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KGCN, 6606 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1754 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 244°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 17 knots / 25 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 210°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.23 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 3°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Las Vegas, NV (VGT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Destination: Grand Canyon, AZ (GCN)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 0820 PDT
Type of Airspace: Class D

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 6608 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 21
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 8999 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop; Traffic Pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 3 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 4 None
Latitude, Longitude: 35.946667, -112.153333 (est)

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