Sunday, August 29, 2021

Controlled Flight Into Terrain: Van's RV-6A, N628JB; accident occurred August 27, 2020 in Milton, Sussex County, Delaware

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Philadelphia

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Milton, Delaware
Accident Number: ERA20CA298
Date & Time: August 27, 2020, 14:00 Local 
Registration: N628JB
Aircraft: Vans RV6 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT) Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The purpose of the flight was for the pilots to calibrate a newly installed avionic equipment in the airplane. The owner of the airplane was seated in the airplane’s right seat, while the other pilot, who was acting as pilot-in-command for the flight was seated in the left seat. After takeoff, the pilot handed off controls to the owner and requested that the owner perform two 360° turns while he calibrated the equipment. After the two turns, the owner let go of the flight controls and the pilot manipulated the controls to demonstrate the functioning of the g-meter. Both the pilot and the owner believed the other was flying the airplane after this demonstration. After deciding that they would return to the departure airport, the airplane was flying low and almost impacted the ground twice. On both occasions, the pilot pulled up, then once again let go of the controls believing that the owner was flying the airplane. Both expressed discomfort with how the other was flying the airplane, but neither communicated their concerns to the other in a way that was understood, nor did either confirm who was flying the airplane. The third time the airplane neared terrain, the owner called for the pilot to pull up just as the pilot was about to take control of the airplane. The airplane then impacted a field, flipped over, and came to rest inverted. The fuselage, wings, and empennage of the airplane sustained substantial damage. Both the pilot and owner stated that there were no preimpact malfunctions or failures of 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 and owner’s failure to adequately communicate and establish an understanding of who was flying the airplane, and their failure to take timely action to avoid a collision with terrain.


Personnel issues Lack of communication - Pilot
Personnel issues Lack of communication - Owner/builder
Personnel issues Delayed action - Owner/builder
Personnel issues Delayed action - Pilot

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT) (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private; Sport Pilot 
Age: 38, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land 
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With waivers/limitations 
Last FAA Medical Exam: January 26, 2016
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: July 30, 2019
Flight Time: 296 hours (Total, all aircraft), 79 hours (Total, this make and model), 259 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Pilot-rated passenger Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 55,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land 
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane 
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: September 17, 2019
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: December 31, 2018
Flight Time: 2140 hours (Total, all aircraft), 135 hours (Total, this make and model), 2020 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 15.1 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Vans 
Registration: N628JB
Model/Series: RV6 A 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2004 
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental (Special) 
Serial Number: 23492
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle 
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: March 2, 2020 Condition 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1650 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 395 Hrs at time of accident 
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A1A
Registered Owner:
Rated Power: 180 Horsepower
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: GED,53 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 13:54 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 219°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots / 20 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: Unknown / Unknown
Wind Direction: 270° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.82 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 34°C / 22°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Milton, DE (DE25)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Milton, DE (DE25) 
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 13:50 Local
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Eagle Crest-Hudson DE25
Runway Surface Type:
Airport Elevation: 28 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition:
Runway Used: 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 38.810276,-75.237777(est)


  1. After almost impacting the ground twice, neither the pilot nor the owner still did not know who was flying the plane?...really?? Sitting side by side with center sticks? And we pay increasing insurance premiums into a pool that pays out on stupid stuff like this?

  2. They knew. These written statements are made for the lawyers.

    1. I guess you have to cover your "Tail-wheel"....SCARY SCENARIO though!

  3. I wonder what the g-meter indicated when they hit the ground. I guess the up-indicator was still on back-order. This might make a great AOPA video. "Avionics: The Insidious Distraction". ominous piano music playing.