Saturday, May 08, 2021

Loss of Control in Flight: Cessna 172N Skyhawk II, N734DX; accident occurred May 06, 2019 at Auburn Municipal Airport (KAUN), Placer County, California


Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Sacramento, California

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Auburn, California 
Accident Number: GAA19CA247
Date & Time: May 6, 2019, 13:10 Local
Registration: N734DX
Aircraft: Cessna 172
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight 
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional


The solo student pilot reported that he simulated a power-off emergency landing with a 180º turn to the runway and then trimmed the elevator "fully nose up" and added full flaps. Before touchdown, the airplane drifted right of centerline, and he had "difficulty correcting and maintaining control" of the airplane, so he initiated a go-around. The student added that, subsequently, he "retracted [the] flaps entirely," and the airplane "fell [about 10 ft] to the ground," the nosewheel impacted terrain, and the airplane then nosed over.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing and empennage.

The student 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 improper retraction of the flaps during a go-around and his exceedance of the airplane's critical angle of attack, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. 


Aircraft Pitch control - Not attained/maintained
Aircraft Configuration - Not attained/maintained
Aircraft Angle of attack - Not attained/maintained
Personnel issues Aircraft control - Student/instructed pilot

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing Simulated/training event
Landing Loss of control in flight (Defining event)
Landing Aerodynamic stall/spin
Landing Abnormal runway contact
Landing Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)
Landing Nose over/nose down

Pilot Information

Certificate: Student 
Age: 32, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None 
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter 
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: August 1, 2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated) 106 hours (Total, all aircraft), 103 hours (Total, this make and model), 34 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 46 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 31 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna 
Registration: N734DX
Model/Series: 172 N 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1977
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Restricted (Special) 
Serial Number: 17268784
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: April 29, 2019 Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2299 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 8252.6 Hrs at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
Engine Model/Series: O-320
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 160 Horsepower
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KAUN,1531 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 20:15 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 317°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Visibility 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 220° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.88 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 15°C / 10°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Auburn, CA (AUN)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Auburn, CA (AUN) 
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 12:30 Local 
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Auburn Muni AUN
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 1538 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 25 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3700 ft / 75 ft 
VFR Approach/Landing: Go around; Simulated forced landing; Traffic pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 38.954723,-121.081665(est)

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