Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Flight Control System Malfunction/Failure: Excalibur, N78DZ; accident occurred June 04, 2017 near Double Eagle II Airport (KAEG), Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, New Mexico

Aircraft at Accident Site. 

Fractured Right Elevator Control Rod at Accident Site. 

Left and Right Elevator Control Rods.

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Albuquerque, New Mexico

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

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


Location: Albuquerque, NM
Accident Number:CEN17LA216 
Date & Time: 06/04/2017, 0824 MDT
Registration: N78DZ
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Flight control sys malf/fail
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On June 4, 2017, about 0824 mountain daylight time, an Excalibur experimental light sport airplane, N78DZ, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Albuquerque, New Mexico, during an emergency landing due to flight control anomalies. The commercial pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area and a flight plan was not filed. The airplane was registered to the pilot and the personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The local flight originated at 0715 from the Double Eagle Airport (AEG), Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was enroute back to AEG when the accident occurred.

According to the pilot, he had been flying a little over an hour without any problems since takeoff from AEG. He was flying straight and level, about 75 mph (below never-exceed speed), when the pitch control became erratic. The control stick started slamming fore and aft to the limits, the airplane nose began pitching up and down, and the airplane began buffeting like it was going to come apart. The pilot declared an emergency and reduced airspeed to 50 to 60 mph, which slightly lessened the fore and aft stick movement and pitch, but did not control it. The pilot turned to clear steep terrain and choose a relatively flat field for an emergency landing. He was able to make final directional corrections and flew the airplane to landing about 40 to 45 mph and 200 to 300 ft per minute rate of descent. The airplane remained upright, but the nose gear and the left main gear sheared off, the airplane turned 180°, and the left wing and horizontal stabilizer struck the ground.

Examination of the aircraft by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector and the pilot after the accident revealed a broken, right elevator control rod. The left elevator control rod was not broken. The control rod that separated was a factory-supplied, 1/2-inch aluminum tube with bearings at each end. The attach points of the control rods appeared to be intact. The bearings were still connected and safety wired and all other control rod linkages and attach points were connected. There was normal movement of the left elevator control system (rod still intact). The damaged control rod (right elevator) and the intact control rod (left elevator) were compared and examined by a National Transportation Safety Board structures engineer. According to the engineer, there was no indication of any pre-existing failure on the fracture surface of the right elevator control rod. The deformation of the rod was indicative of a bending failure of the rod.

The pilot reported after the accident that he may have encountered flutter. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial; Private
Age: 79, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s):None 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/23/2013
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/03/2017
Flight Time:  4978 hours (Total, all aircraft), 64 hours (Total, this make and model), 4800 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N78DZ
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 2614
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/17/2017, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection: 64 Hours
Engines:  Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 64 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Rotax
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 582UL-99
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power:65 hp 
Operator:On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: ABQ, 5354 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 15 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0824 MDT
Direction from Accident Site: 230°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Light and Variable /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: Variable
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.2 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 9°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Albuquerque, NM (AEG)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Albuquerque, NM (AEG)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0715 MDT
Type of Airspace: Class E

Airport Information

Airport: Double Eagle (AEG)
Runway Surface Type:N/A 
Airport Elevation: 5837 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach:None 
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 35.113889, -106.890833 (est)

1 comment:

  1. Laboratory tests by the NTSB later determined that the broken tube occurred
    upon impact with terrain, and not in the air.