Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Loss of Engine Power (Total): Aeronca 7AC Champ, N65HM; fatal accident occurred August 24, 2018 near Cranland Airport (28M), Hanson, Plymouth County, Massachusetts

Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CW3) Scott, ‘Scotty,’ Landis of Hanson, Massachusetts.

Overview of Accident Site.
Federal Aviation Administration

Another view of the accident site. 
Federal Aviation Administration

View of Tachometer Time.
Federal Aviation Administration

View of Carburetor Heat Control.
Federal Aviation Administration

Aft View of Wreckage after Recovery.

View of Carburetor and Air Box.

View of engine and propeller.

Cranland Airport (28M) and surrounding area.

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Boston, Massachusetts

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Hanson, MA
Accident Number: ERA18FA230
Date & Time: 08/24/2018, 1535 EDT
Registration: N65HM
Aircraft: Aeronca 7AC
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (total)
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 24, 2018, around 1535 eastern daylight time, an Aeronca 7AC Champion, N65HM, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from Cranland Airport (28M), Hanson, Massachusetts. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the passenger was seriously injured. The airplane was privately owned and was being operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight, which was originating at the time of the accident.

A review of airport security video showed the airplane about 100 ft above ground level as it passed the departure end of the runway during takeoff. The airplane was not climbing and began to bank to the left; the left turn continued as the airplane descended behind trees and impacted terrain. The video also indicated that the airplane operated at idle engine power on the ground for about 7 minutes before beginning the takeoff roll.

First responders reported that the airplane came to rest in a nose-down, near-vertical position and that they had to move the airplane in order to perform rescue operations. The passenger stated to a first responder that the airplane "stalled." 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 33, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/10/2017
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/19/2016
Flight Time:  195 hours (Total, all aircraft), 4 hours (Total, this make and model), 116 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 4.5 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 4.5 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for rotorcraft-helicopter, instrument helicopter, and private pilot privileges for airplane single-engine land and sea. The pilot was issued a first-class FAA medical certificate on October 10, 2017, with no limitations. According to the pilot's logbook, he had accumulated 195.7 hours of civilian flight experience, of which 4 hours were in the accident airplane in the previous 3 years.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Aeronca
Registration: N65HM
Model/Series: 7AC No Series
Aircraft Category:Airplane 
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 7AC-3708
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 10/01/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1320 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 110 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1631.4 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Continental Motors Inc.
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: C90-12F
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 95 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1946. It was equipped with a Continental Motors Inc. C90 series, 90-horsepower engine that drove a fixed-pitch propeller. According to airplane maintenance logbooks, an annual inspection was completed on October 1, 2017, at a total time of 1,521.4 hours and a tachometer time of 3,215.1 hours. Following the accident, the tachometer indicated 3,325.1 hours.

The airplane was flown the day before the accident by the owner's son and the accident pilot. The owner's son reported that there were no anomalies with the airplane during their flight, which lasted about an hour. He stated that he usually applied carburetor heat while operating the engine at idle power on the ground because of the "carburetor icing possibilities."

The engine operating instructions stated that, during the pretakeoff ground test (engine run-up), the carburetor heat control should be moved "to full HOT position, and observe decrease in engine speed if air heater and control are operating properly. [Then] return control to full COLD position." The instructions noted, "under some conditions, ice may form in the carburetor during ground test. It must be eliminated before takeoff." 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PYM, 149 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1552 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 145°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 9 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction: 210°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: 
Altimeter Setting: 30.2 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / 12°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point:Hanson, MA (28M) 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Hanson, MA (28M)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1535 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

The 1552 recorded weather observation at Plymouth Municipal Airport (PYM), Plymouth, Massachusetts, about 8 miles southeast of the accident location, included wind from 210° at 9 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 27°C, dew point 12°C; and an altimeter setting of 30.20 inches of mercury.

The carburetor icing probability chart from FAA Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB): CE-09-35 Carburetor Icing Prevention, showed a probability of serious icing at glide power at the temperature and dew point reported at the time of the accident.

Airport Information

Airport: Cranland (28M)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 71 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 18
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 1760 ft / 60 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Cranland Airport was a public, nontower-controlled airport located 3 miles southeast of Hanson, Massachusetts. The airport was equipped with an asphalt runway designated as 18/36, which was 1,760 ft long by 60 ft wide. The airport elevation was 71 ft above mean sea level (msl); the airport was surrounded by cranberry bogs, ponds, and wooded terrain.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 42.022500, -70.835278 

The airplane impacted a bog 470 ft east of the departure end of runway 18. The main wreckage was located at an elevation of 59 ft msl. All components of the airplane were located in the vicinity of the wreckage.

The nose section was impact crushed aft. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the flight controls in the cockpit to all flight control surfaces. The carburetor heat control was in the OFF position. The leading edges of the right and left wings were impact crushed along the entire span of each wing. A fuel sample was taken from both fuel tanks and the samples tested negative for water contamination. The empennage and aft flight control surfaces remained intact and attached to the fuselage. The airplane was not equipped with a stall warning system or angle of attack indicator.

The engine remained attached to the airframe and the propeller remained attached to the engine. One propeller blade was bent slightly aft and the other blade remained straight. Engine crankshaft continuity was confirmed from the propeller flange to the accessory section. All cylinders remained attached to the crankcase and thumb compression and suction was observed on all cylinders when the propeller was rotated through the entire range of motion. The rocker box covers were removed and no anomalies were noted with the valve springs and rocker arms. Valvetrain continuity was confirmed when the propeller was rotated by hand.

The carburetor hot air inlet was impact crushed aft. Carburetor heat control continuity was confirmed from the airbox to the cockpit, and the control was cut to facilitate further examination. The control could not be moved as a result of impact damage. The carburetor was removed and disassembled. The gasket was examined with no anomalies noted. The float assembly remained intact with no anomalies noted. The butterfly valve and fuel pump operated when the throttle arm was moved by hand. The needle and seat remained in place. The carburetor bowl was examined and contained brownish fluid similar to the water in the bog; the fluid smelled similar to 100LL aviation fuel.

The left and right magnetos were removed. hen each magneto was rotated by hand, spark was observed on all towers. The top spark plugs were removed. The spark plugs were in "normal" condition when compared to the Champion Check a Plug Chart, with the exception of the No. 2 top spark plug, which exhibited "normal-worn out" condition. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Office of the Medical Examiner, Boston, Massachusetts, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The autopsy report indicated that the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries.

Toxicology testing of the pilot was performed at the FAA Forensic Sciences Laboratory. Fluid and tissue specimens tested negative for ethanol. Ketamine, norketamine, midazolam, lorazepam, and morphine were all detected in the blood and liver. In addition, fentanyl was detected in the blood. All detected medications were consistent with emergency medical treatment after the accident.

Tests And Research

An exemplar airplane with a Continental Motors Inc. C90 engine was started and the fuel selector was moved to the OFF position. The engine operated for 31 seconds before the engine lost total power without sputtering.

The airplane was restarted and operated at idle power for about 5 minutes. After that time, the engine was shut down and condensation was noted on the carburetor and intake of the engine. At the time of the test, the ambient temperature was 28°C and the dew point was 15°C, which showed a probability of serious icing at glide power on the Carburetor Icing Probability Chart. 

Additional Information

FAA Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (CE-09-35) – Carburetor Icing Prevention, stated that:

…pilots should be aware that carburetor icing doesn't just occur in freezing conditions, it can occur at temperatures well above freezing temperatures when there is visible moisture or high humidity. Icing can occur in the carburetor at temperatures above freezing because vaporization of fuel, combined with the expansion of air as it flows through the carburetor, (Venturi Effect) causes sudden cooling, sometimes by a significant amount within a fraction of a second. Carburetor ice can be detected by a drop in rpm in fixed pitch propeller airplanes and a drop in manifold pressure in constant speed propeller airplanes. In both types, usually there will be a roughness in engine operation.

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