Saturday, February 08, 2020

Landing Gear Collapse: Zenith CH 601 XL, N651JL; accident occurred July 22, 2017 at Aiken Municipal Airport (KAIK), South Carolina

Front view of the airplane in the grass.  
Federal Aviation Administration

Damage to the right wing. 
Federal Aviation Administration

 Fractured lower nose gear bearing. 
 Federal Aviation Administration 
Part Diagram

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; West Columbia, South Carolina

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Aiken, SC
Accident Number: ERA17LA258
Date & Time: 07/22/2017, 1700 EDT
Registration: N651JL
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Landing gear collapse
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 22, 2017, about 1700 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Zenith 601XL, N651JL, was substantially damaged during landing at Aiken Municipal Airport (AIK), Aiken, South Carolina. The commercial pilot was not injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Hendersonville Airport (0A7), Hendersonville, North Carolina.

The pilot stated he completed a pre-buy inspection of the airplane in Hendersonville, North Carolina. He test flew the airplane and performed a couple landings before purchasing the airplane and flying home.

Following the uneventful flight to AIK, the pilot reported that after touchdown the nose landing gear began "shaking violently." He pulled back on the yoke, which resulted in a tail strike. The airplane then veered off the runway and the nose landing gear collapsed when it contacted the ground the second time.

Examination of the airplane by the FAA inspector revealed substantial damage to the firewall, leading edge of the left wing, and nose gear. The inspector stated the airplane touched down approximately 800 ft past the threshold of runway 25. About 65 ft from the runway there were tire marks in the grass from the two main wheels and divots from the nose landing gear fairing. Examination of the nose landing gear lower bearing, a nylon block, revealed that it was fractured.

No maintenance history specific to the lower nose landing gear bearing was available. In the previous 14 years the airplane had four different owners and accumulated about 271 hours.

The two-seat, low wing, tricycle landing gear-equipped airplane, was powered by a Lycoming O-235, 116-horsepower engine.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane single-engine sea, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. He also possessed a mechanic certificate with ratings for airframe and powerplant. He reported 4,515 hours of total flight experience, 11 hours in the accident airplane make and model. His most FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on December 5, 2016 with the limitation "must wear corrective lenses."

The 1815 weather at AIK included wind from 180° at 6 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; temperature 32° C; dew point 23° C; and altimeter setting 29.98 inches of mercury.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial; Private
Age: 63, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
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: 12/05/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 12/15/2015
Flight Time:  4515 hours (Total, all aircraft), 11 hours (Total, this make and model), 4515 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 26 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 12 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N651JL
Model/Series: ZENITH 601 XL
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built:Yes 
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 4613
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/10/2017, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1320 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 271.8 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-235
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 115 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: KAIK, 529 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1755 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 191°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 180°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 29.98 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C / 23°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: HENDERSONVILLE, NC (0A7)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Aiken, SC (AIK)
Type of Clearance:None 
Departure Time: 1545 EDT
Type of Airspace:Class G  

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation:528 ft 
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 25
IFR Approach: Unknown
Runway Length/Width: 5500 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Traffic Pattern

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: 33.652222, -81.682500 (est)

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