Friday, December 02, 2005

Accident of the Week

Looking forward to next week's scheduled Angel Flights, this week's Accident of the Week involves the mysterious crash of a Cessna Cardinal that was on an Angel Flight mission. The fatal accident occurred over two years ago, but the NTSB still hasn't released a probable cause finding.

NTSB Identification: LAX04FA042
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 13, 2003 in BLK CANYON CITY, AZ
Aircraft: Cessna 177RG, registration: N431DL
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On November 13, 2003, about 0930 mountain standard time, a Cessna 177RG, N431DL, collided with terrain after reporting engine problems 12 miles east of Black Canyon City, Arizona. The airline transport pilot/owner operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The airplane was destroyed. The pilot, the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. The personal cross-country flight departed Flagstaff/Pulliam Airport (FLG), Flagstaff, Arizona, about 0800, en route to the Phoenix-Deer Valley Airport (DVT), Phoenix, Arizona. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed. The primary wreckage was at 34 degrees 06.330 minutes north latitude and 111 degrees 57.675 minutes west longitude.

The pilot volunteered for the Angel Flight organization. The purpose of the flight was to pickup a person in DVT and transport them to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport (BUR), Burbank, California.

According to radio communications, the pilot checked in with Phoenix Terminal Radar Control (PHX TRACON). He then reported that he had engine problems and needed vectors to the closest airport. A PHX TRACON controller vectored him to the Sky Ranch at Carefree (18AZ), Carefree, Arizona. The pilot radioed that he was losing altitude at 600 feet per minute (fpm). He then radioed that he was losing 800 fpm. PHX TRACON lost radar contact at 4,800 feet, and radio contact shortly thereafter.

The accident site was located in a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land area at 3,700 feet. Juniper trees, Cholla, various other cacti, and other vegetation indicative of Northern Arizona surrounded the area. The accident site was in a valley with a 10-degree upslope. The airplane was parallel with the terrain. The debris path was along a magnetic bearing of 200 degrees. The first identified point of contact (FPIC) was a tree, 37 feet from the main wreckage. An impact mark was located at 27 feet from the main wreckage. The length of the airplane was 24.6 feet.

Visual examination of the engine revealed no obvious preimpact anomalies. There were no oil or fuel stains on the external part of the engine. Investigators removed the top spark plugs, which were gray in color. The coloration corresponded to normal operation according to the Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug AV-27 Chart. A borescope inspection revealed no mechanical deformation on the valves, cylinder walls, or internal cylinder head. Investigators established engine control continuity from the cockpit to the engine.

The propeller remained attached to the engine at the propeller hub. One blade was straight with no chordwise or longitudinal scoring. The other blade was bowed about midspan with a nick noted on the trailing edge of the blade. Longitudinal scoring was on the tip of the blade.

Investigators established flight control continuity from the tail to the aft cabin pulleys. The cables were inaccessible from the aft cabin to the cockpit. They established flight control continuity in the wings from the left wing bellcrank to the right wing bellcrank.

Thank heavens this occurred on the pickup leg, not the passenger leg. The report gives no hints at all as to what might have happened here. There's no mention of weather, so we're probably safe in assuing that it was VFR, maybe even CAVU. Obvious mechanical issues aren't hinted at either. We'll just have to keep waiting to see what the NTSB has to say when it issues its report.

1 comment:

Greybeard said...

I need help here.....
Cessna Cardinal,

One propellor in pretty good shape indicates the engine wasn't turnin'. But nothing so far indicates there were mechanical problems with it.

'tis strange, ain't it?