Friday, February 28, 2020

Unknown or Undetermined: Aviat A-1B Husky, N211AM; fatal accident occurred July 13, 2017 in Herriman, Salt Lake County, Utah

Capt. Nicholas Thomas
1983 ~ 2017
Nick loved to read, fish, run, hike, travel, and most of all, to fly. After high school, he served a two year LDS mission to Finland. Nick enrolled at Utah State University in the Army ROTC program and graduated as Cadet Commander. Nick served his country proudly as an Aviator in the Utah Army National Guard. He loved to fly as an Apache helicopter pilot, a fixed-wing flight instructor, and recently received his Federal Aviation Administration commercial license as a pilot for SkyWest. Nick's favorite place to be was in the sky and he was a superb aviator.

Jacob John McGoldrick
1979 ~ 2017
A lifelong aviator, Jake served in the Australian Defense Force prior to becoming a civilian pilot. 

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah
Lycoming; Milliken, Colorado

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Herriman, UT
Accident Number: WPR17FA149
Date & Time: 07/13/2017, 0940 MDT
Registration: N211AM
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Unknown or undetermined
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On July 13, 2017, about 0940 mountain daylight time, an Aviat A1-B airplane, N211AM, impacted terrain while maneuvering near Herriman, Utah. The flight instructor and pilot receiving instruction were fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed during the postimpact fire. The airplane was privately owned and operated by the instructor as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area and no flight plan was filed for the local flight, which departed South Valley Regional Airport (U42), West Jordan, Utah, about 0927.

A law enforcement officer who was driving west at a higher elevation than the accident site saw the airplane flying low up a canyon. He turned away briefly, and when he looked back, the airplane made a steep right turn and its nose dropped, and the airplane appeared to be losing altitude quickly. The trooper also stated that it appeared that they had nowhere to go and was making a last-ditch attempt to escape. He was able to see the tops of both wings while the airplane was in the turn. He did not see any smoke coming from the airplane. As he continued driving, he lost sight of the airplane and eventually pulled over to see if the airplane had climbed out of the canyon. He then drove further up the canyon and saw smoke rising from the bottom of the canyon in the area that he had last seen the airplane.

Radar data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that, after takeoff, the airplane flew on a southwesterly heading toward and into the box canyon. The radar data indicated that the airplane reached an altitude of 6,000 ft during the last 1.5 minutes of the flight. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 34, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Rear
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane; Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine; Helicopter; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/19/2015
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 835 hours (Total, all aircraft), 0 hours (Total, this make and model)

Student Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 37, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/25/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 2887 hours (Total, all aircraft), 0 hours (Total, this make and model) 

The flight instructor held an airline transport pilot certificate issued on April 11, 2015, and a flight instructor certificate that was issued on December 12, 2011. A review of the instructor's logbook indicated 1,553.1 total hours of flight experience, with 78.4 total hours in the previous 90 days and 24.7 hours in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent flight review was completed on April 9, 2013. The pilot held a first-class medical certificate issued on January 19, 2015, with no limitations.

No personal flight records were located for the pilot receiving instruction. He reported 2,877 total hours of flight experience on his most recent medical certificate application with 160 hours in the previous 6 months. FAA airman records indicated that his private pilot certificate was issued based on an Australian flight certificate. Review of his airman and medical certificates revealed that his medical certificate had been revoked by the FAA following an investigation of his failure to report a disability, and that his Australian flight certificates had previously been revoked for falsification. The pilot's medical certificate was denied on August 25, 2016.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N211AM
Model/Series: A 1B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2000
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 2110
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/30/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 871 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A1P
Registered Owner: SWGB AVIATION LLC
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The tandem two-seat, high-wing airplane was constructed of steel tube frame covered with fabric. Flight controls were installed at each seat. The accident airplane received its standard airworthiness certificate on October 20, 2000.

The recording hour meter reading at the accident site was not identifiable.

Examination of maintenance records revealed no unresolved maintenance discrepancies with the airplane before the accident flight.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: U42, 4606 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 11 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0935 MDT
Direction from Accident Site: 45°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 150°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.18 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / 15°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: West Jordan, UT (U42)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
West Jordan, UT (U42)
Type of Clearance:None
Departure Time: MDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

The automated weather observation station located at U42, about 11 miles northeast of the accident site reported at 0935: wind from 150° at 10 knots, 10 miles visibility, temperature 81°F, dew point 59°F, and an altimeter setting of 30.19 inches of mercury. U42 was located at an elevation of 4,406 mean sea level (msl); density altitude was calculated to be 6,980 ft.

The accident site was located at an elevation of 7,340 ft msl, with a calculated density altitude of 10,313 ft msl based on the reported conditions at U42.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 40.485556, -112.173611 (est) 

The airplane came to rest on down-sloping heavily wooded terrain about 12 miles southwest of the departure airport. Multiple broken branches were noted southwest of the main wreckage; the airplane was traveling in a northeast direction on a heading of about 060° with the nose of the main wreckage situated downslope. Investigators stated that the trees that the airplane struck were 30 ft from the main wreckage. Witness marks and broken branches were about 20 ft up from the base of the trees. All the major structural components of the airframe and engine were accounted for and were collocated with the main wreckage. As a result of the postcrash fire, the airplane was destroyed.

The airplane came to rest on its right side, with the airframe tubing that remained mostly intact. The fabric was destroyed in the fire, and exposed the airframe tubing along with the flight control cables. Flight control continuity was established throughout the airplane. The right wing partially separated; visual examination of the fuel cell revealed no obvious holes in the fuel tank. The left wing also partially separated from the fuselage, with most of the wing twisted and was bent under the fuselage. The fuel tank was breached.

The engine came to rest in its relative normal position and sustained thermal damage. A visual examination of the engine revealed no holes in the engine case. Post crash examination of the engine revealed no evidence of a mechanical anomaly that would have precluded normal operation. Additional information is attached to the public docket for this accident. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Utah Department of Health – Office of the Medical Examiner, Taylorsville, Utah, completed autopsies for both pilots. The cause of death for the flight instructor was conflagration injury and head trauma. The cause of death for the pilot receiving instruction was conflagration and blunt force injuries.

The Utah Department of Health, Unified State Laboratories: Public Health Bureau of Forensic Toxicology, Office of the Medical Examiner, Taylorsville, Utah, performed toxicological testing of specimens from the flight instructor. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, drugs of abuse, prescription drug panel, and opiates. The specimens tested positive for ethanol at 0.04 grams per 100 milliliters of blood, which was likely the result of postmortem production.

The FAA Forensic Sciences Laboratory performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot receiving instruction. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, volatiles and tested-for drugs. The laboratory did not perform a test for cyanide.

Additional Information

High Density Altitude

The hazards associated with high density altitude operations are outlined in an FAA Pamphlet titled DENSITY ALTITUDE (FAA-P-8740-2). The publication states,

High density altitude will decrease the airplanes performance. Whether due to high altitude, high temperature, or both, reduced air density (reported in terms of density altitude) adversely affects aerodynamic performance and decreases the engine's horsepower output. Takeoff distance, power available (in normally aspirated engines), and climb rate are all adversely affected.


According to the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A):

At the same gross weight, airplane configuration, and power setting, a given airplane will consistently stall at the same indicated airspeed if no acceleration is involved. The airplane will, however, stall at a higher indicated airspeed when excessive maneuvering loads are imposed by steep turns, pull-ups, or other abrupt changes in its flightpath. Stalls entered from such flight situations are called 'accelerated maneuver stalls,' a term, which has no reference to the airspeeds involved. Stalls which result from abrupt maneuvers tend to be more rapid, or severe, than the unaccelerated stalls, and because they occur at higher-than-normal airspeeds, and/or may occur at lower than anticipated pitch attitudes, they may be unexpected by an inexperienced pilot. Failure to take immediate steps toward recovery when an accelerated stall occurs may result in a complete loss of flight control, notably, power-on spins.

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