Thursday, January 09, 2020

Controlled Flight into Terrain: Cessna 182H Skylane, N8338S; fatal accident occurred October 12, 2017 near Las Cruces International Airport (KLRU), Las Cruces, Dona Ana County, New Mexico

Photo of damage brush and ground scar

Airplane’s Propeller

Main Wreckage


Propeller Blade

Propeller (all blades visible)

Airspeed Indicator

Turn Indicator



Attitude Directional Indicator scoring

Vacuum Pump Case

Wreckage Diagram

Map of Accident Referencing the Airport 

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Albuquerque, New Mexico
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas 
Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Las Cruces, NM
Accident Number: CEN18FA009
Date & Time: 10/12/2017, 2015 MDT
Registration: N8338S
Aircraft: CESSNA 182H 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional

On October 12, 2017, about 2015 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 182H airplane, N8338S, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Las Cruces, New Mexico. The flight instructor and student pilot were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Aero Newton Inc. as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed Las Cruces International Airport (LRU), Las Cruces, New Mexico, at an undetermined time.

Radar data captured the airplane flying over Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, along Highway I-25 toward Las Cruces. Once near the airport, the airplane maneuvered north of LRU and descended to about 200 ft above ground level (agl), turned left toward the airport, and climbed to about 500 ft agl. The airplane then overflew LRU before turning north. Shortly thereafter, the airplane entered a descending right turn over unpopulated terrain and radar contact was lost.

The wreckage was discovered on a small mesa by first responders who were dispatched following reports of a fire. 

Morris Douglas Newton Jr.

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor; Commercial; Flight Engineer
Age: 77, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Multi-engine Sea; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/20/2017
Occupational Pilot:Yes 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 32700 hours (Total, all aircraft)

David Glenn Hancock

Student Pilot Information

Certificate: Student
Age: 67, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Unknown
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/12/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Personal logbooks were not located for either pilot, and recency of flight experience could not be determined.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Registration: N8338S
Model/Series: 182H H
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:1965 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18256438
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/08/2017, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2348 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2507.15 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: CONT MOTOR
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-470-R
Registered Owner: AERO NEWTON INC
Rated Power: 230 hp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

The airplane's maintenance logbook recorded a 100-hour inspection completed on August 8, 2017, at a total airframe time of 2,507.15 hrs and 886.91 hrs since engine overhaul. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night/Dark
Observation Facility, Elevation: KLRU, 4456 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2015 MST
Direction from Accident Site: 181°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 7 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 170°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.07 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 8°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Las Cruces, NM (LRU)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Las Cruces, NM (LRU)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  MDT
Type of Airspace:
A review of lunar astronomical information revealed that the moon did not rise until after midnight on the night of the accident.

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 4456 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: Unknown
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Unknown 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 32.336944, -106.916389 

The airplane impacted unpopulated, desert terrain about 3 miles from the airport at an elevation of about 4,425 ft mean sea level (msl).

The wreckage path was about 275 ft long and was oriented on a 215° magnetic heading. Portions of the left wingtip and damaged desert brush were found in the area leading up to the initial impact point. A shallow divot showed signatures consistent with the airplane skidding several feet along the desert floor after impact. The main wreckage was found about 225 ft from the initial impact point; the wreckage comprised the fuselage, wings, and empennage. A post-impact fire consumed most of the fuselage and inboard sections of the wings.

Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit to the elevator, elevator trim, and rudder. The left aileron drive cable was continuous to the left aileron. The carry-through cable was continuous from the left aileron to the right aileron. The right aileron drive cable was broken near the right forward door post and exhibited features of overload separation. Most of the fuel system was consumed by the postimpact fire; the fuel strainer screen was intact and no contamination was observed. The cockpit instrumentation was largely impact and fire damaged. The airspeed indicator displayed 180 mph (about 158 knots), the tachometer displayed about 2,300 rpm, and the altimeter read 8,075 ft with 30.07 inches displayed in the Kollsman window. Impact and fire damage precluded functional testing of the altimeter.

The engine remained partially attached to the fuselage via the control cables. The top spark plugs were removed and appeared worn out-normal (when compared to the Champion Aviation Check-a-Plug Chart). The valve covers were removed and no damage was observed to the valve springs and rocker arms. The lower forward portion of the crankcase sustained impact damage that prevented manually rotating the engine crankshaft to verify continuity and compression. The three-bladed Hartzell propeller was found separated from the engine. The crushed spinner was removed from the hub. The blades were identified as A, B, and C for documentation purposes. Blade A was bent aft near the hub and displayed leading edge damage and diagonal chordwise scoring on the cambered side of the blade. Blade B was twisted and exhibited S-bending, and leading edge gouges with chordwise scratches. Blade C was also twisted and exhibited S-bending and chordwise scratches.

The vacuum pump and attitude indicator were removed and examined. Examination of the dry vane carbon components revealed impact damage along with rotational scoring around the circumference of both the carbon components and the vacuum pump case. The gyro of the attitude indicator was also examined. The attitude indicator case had crushed into the gyro and was removed. Rotational scoring was observed on the interior of the gyro casing. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Office of the Medical Investigator, Albuquerque, New Mexico, conducted autopsies on both pilots. The cause of death for both pilots was blunt force trauma.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Forensic Sciences Laboratory performed toxicology testing on specimens from both pilots with negative results for all tested-for substances.

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