Monday, February 03, 2020

Aircraft Propeller Contact With Person: Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, N5522S; accident occurred October 12, 2019 at Key West International Airport (KEYW), Monroe County, Florida

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Miramar, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Key West, FL
Accident Number: GAA20CA025
Date & Time: 10/12/2019, 2105 EDT
Registration: N5522S
Aircraft: Cessna 172
Aircraft Damage: None
Defining Event: AC/prop/rotor contact w person
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


The pilot reported that he performed a preflight inspection at night and started the airplane, but the airplane would not move forward as he attempted to taxi from parking to the runway. The pilot looked out the left window to see if there were wheel chocks, and his passenger exited the right door and checked the right main landing gear wheel for chocks. The passenger subsequently moved to the front of the airplane and attempted to remove the chocks from the nosewheel. The passenger's right hand was struck by the propeller, which resulted in a serious injury. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. 

Probable Cause and Findings
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's and the passenger's improper decision to have the passenger attempt to move a wheel chock while the propeller was turning, which resulted in a serious injury.


Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)
Decision making/judgment - Passenger (Cause)

Environmental issues
Person - Effect on operation (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Prior to flight
AC/prop/rotor contact w person (Defining event) 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 46, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 None
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/20/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/22/2019
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 164.7 hours (Total, all aircraft), 152.4 hours (Total, this make and model), 98 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 29.3 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 7.9 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1.5 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N5522S
Model/Series: 172 S
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 172S11430
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2300 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-360-L2A
Registered Owner: Paragon Flight Training Co
Rated Power:
Operator: Paragon Flight Training Co
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot School (141) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KEYW, 21 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0253 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 99°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 40°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 29.97 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 23°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Fort Myers, FL (FMY)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Fort Myers, FL (FMY)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 1600 EDT
Type of Airspace:Class D  

Airport Information

Airport: Key West Intl (EYW)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 3 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: None
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 24.556111, -81.760000 (est)


  1. Can't fix stupid. #1 was not shutting down the engine. 20 seconds of time gained while ironically making the passenger lose a hand and the flight kinda not happening.
    #2 was the passenger casually strolling around a spinning propeller.
    I have a taylorcraft which requires hand propping and not only it is a rigorous procedure but removing the chokes has me crawling under the belly of the plane behind the main gear with parking brake engaged and at idle and only extending my hand to grab the cable holding both chokes to yank them out.
    Hand propping taught me to never be remotely at risk from a moving propeller.
    Flight schools should offer hand propping lessons with an older plane or pilots should seek an instructor with a cub or taylorcraft to understand and avert this kind of tragic accident.

  2. Lots of news stories at the time about losing the hand and also injury to one foot.

    The writeup in the 6120 form also says "The chocks were black on a black asphalt background." Photo makes it appear that the chocks have reflective tape.

    Perhaps preflight needs to include performing a toe of the shoe drag in front of each wheel to do a blind/no lighting chock check when you don't deploy your flashlight to look at sump samples.

  3. Simple rule, nobody leaves the cockpit with then engine running.

    I hand prop my Cub and once I climb in, nobody, including me, leaves the plane with the engine running. Yeah it's a PIA but wow to losing a hand.

  4. The PAX is lucky he (assuming it was not a she) didn't lose his life. There are plenty of fatal prop head and body accidents as well. Remember that beautiful model from Texas, Lauren Kennedy, who exited the aircraft and walked right into the prop losing part of her left face (and eye) as well as her left hand. She has mostly recovered and looks great nine years later. I can't believe these things still happen (pilots leaving engines on while passengers get out and passengers getting injured or killed), but they do.

    1. The pilots account says it was his wife who was injured. Certainly the LSK Foundation will want to step up and help in this case, the website says they exist only to do such work.