Accident Reports

With Cat Burton

Accident Reports

Outclimbed by the surroundings…

Summaries and comments on accident reports from around the world, plus a first look at a handy new active personal carbon monoxide monitor

Manoeuvring limited

Robin DR400-140B
Albertville, France
Injuries: Two serious, two minor

After taking off from Albertville aerodrome, the pilot began the climb towards the Belledonne massif. He flew over the town of Aiton and then entered an orbit before approaching a pass near Fort Montgilbert.
He realised late on approaching the pass, while still climbing, that the aeroplane’s altitude would not be enough to clear it.
Judging that he would not be able to turn around given the terrain, the pilot tried to gain altitude by further increasing the attitude of the aircraft. This had the consequences of reducing the speed towards the stall.
He then initiated a left turn to fly parallel to the ridgeline, thus reducing further the margin to the stall. He then found himself facing the western slope of the second ridgeline. The aeroplane collided with fir trees and ended up in the snow.
Comment Running out of performance is not something that happens often in the UK, but it does occur and the outcome is the same.
In this instance the pilot recognised the risks and did much to mitigate them, minimising fuel load and choosing a route over lower ground than had originally been planned.
However, it wasn’t enough and the pilot was ultimately caught out by confusing a relatively high nose attitude with a flight path he thought would take them clear… All too easily done.

New gear unsettling

Kitfox Classic 4
New Carlisle, Ohio
Injuries: Two minor

The pilot and his pilot-rated-passenger were conducting a local flight in the tailwheel-equipped experimental aeroplane. The accident occurred during the first landing after the original main landing gear, equipped with bungee-cord shock absorber, had been replaced with a main landing gear equipped with a steel-spring shock absorber.
The pilot reported that after a normal touchdown on the main landing gear he pushed the control stick slightly forward to keep the aeroplane from ballooning, but the aeroplane nosed over during the landing roll.
A witness reported seeing the aeroplane’s tail continue to rise during the landing roll until the aeroplane nosed over on the runway.
A post-accident fire destroyed the aeroplane’s cabin and the inboard halves of both wings.
A review of the aeroplane’s weight-and-balance record indicated that the owner/builder had correctly recalculated the centre-of-gravity (CG) position after the main landing gear replacement, and although the CG location had not moved appreciably, the wheel axle position had moved aft about 2.75 inches, thus increasing the aeroplane’s tendency to nose over during ground operations.
Comment I understand the undercarriage modification is fairly common in the UK and has the appropriate approvals, but it is worth noting that modifications can have implications for other handling aspects. Even if it is simply to make some of them slightly less forgiving.

Intentions prove costly

Aeroprakt A32 Vixxen
Rossall Airfield, Lancashire
Injuries: None

The aircraft has a fuel tank in each wing with a valve for each tank situated behind the seats, at shoulder level, on either side of the cockpit.
During the flight the pilot closed the left valve to balance the fuel, as more had been used from this tank.
After landing, the pilot decided to do a few circuits, and so immediately taxied back to the runway while configuring the aircraft. Just before commencing the take-off he remembered he had closed a fuel valve and reached behind the seat and moved a fuel valve handle.
Shortly after take-off, at about 100ft agl, the engine stopped and the pilot landed the aircraft in a field during which the nosewheel collapsed and the propeller was damaged. The pilot secured the aircraft and found that both fuel tank valves were in the closed position.
Comment An honest account of a slightly different take on poor fuel management. In this instance a change of intentions to get airborne once again probably meant that after-landing and pre-take-off checks were not completed fully. In any event, changing a tank selection just before take-off always carries additional risk.

Back to it…

Aviat A-1C-200 Husky Aircraft
Grover, Wyoming
Injuries: One serious

The pilot in the experimental test aeroplane reported that the purpose of the flight was to conduct spin testing, in support of future aeroplane type certification. Prior to the accident, he had completed seven power-on test spins in which all spins exhibited no unusual or flat tendency.
During the accident flight, the test condition called for a spin from level flight, with flaps up, and aft centre of gravity, heavy weight, to the left, with aileron opposite of the turn.
After one 360° rotation, the nose was much higher above the horizon than prior test conditions. The pilot applied corrective controls with no effect on any axis.
The pilot was not able to recover the aeroplane from the induced spin and subsequently disembarked the aeroplane about 10,180ft msl. The pilot deployed his emergency parachute and during his descent he noted that the aeroplane was in a flat spin to ground impact.
Comment This was a reminder, if one was needed, that not everything goes according to plan, even in the flight testing world.
The Husky aircraft has been around for a long time, but a significant increase in power and a change to the flight controls, meant spin testing of the new prototype required pre-certification.

‘SA’ loss outcome

Cessna 180
Denver, Colorado
Injuries: None

The pilot reported that he saw what appeared to be his intended landing runway and set up for landing.
During the landing touchdown, the pilot noticed that the aeroplane was difficult to control due to the soft soil. As the aeroplane continued the rollout, it drifted about 20ft off the pilot’s intended direction into softer soil. Just before the aeroplane came to a stop, the right tyre sunk into the soft ground and the aeroplane nosed over coming to rest inverted. After the accident, the pilot reported that he had not landed on his intended runway but on an unimproved dirt road about 0.3 miles from the runway that ran parallel to the road.
The pilot reported that he had spent too much time looking for traffic in the landing pattern and lost situational awareness of his position relative to the runway.
Comment We’ve all lost ‘SA’ (situational awareness) at some time or another and it can be scary.
Usually the best remedy is a period of flying straight and level into a known safe area while getting one’s ‘act’ back together. I don’t know if it would have helped in this instance, but taking a break away from busy traffic patterns is sometimes the best option when things get too hectic.

Spectacular spectacle

Kolb Flyer SS
Lutz, Florida
Injuries: Two minor

The purpose of the flight was to prepare the student pilot for a solo cross-country flight. After taxying to the end of the runway, the flight instructor told the student to perform a short field take-off.
The student pilot described that there was a crowd at the airport café, and that the flight instructor stated, ‘let’s show them what aviation is all about’. The student pilot said that the take-off roll was normal, and as he pulled back on the flight control stick and began to pitch for a best climb attitude, the aeroplane struggled to fly.
The student pilot then felt back pressure on the control stick and noted that the flight instructor was pulling the stick back more but had not initiated a positive transfer of controls. The aeroplane then veered to the left, the flight instructor pitched the nose down, and the aeroplane struck a berm off the left side of the runway before it ‘cartwheeled’ twice and came to rest.
During the accident sequence the aeroplane’s left wing and empennage were substantially damaged.
Comment Well that certainly showed them. Clearly not the advert for aviation that was intended though. Students tend to mimic their instructors in later life so even the concept of ‘showing them what aviation is about’ rings alarm bells.

Safety Kit

Sensorcon AV8 portable active CO monitor & CAA Trial

FROM £135 plus VAT FROM LAS Aerospace

A new active personal CO monitor arriving on the market for pilots is a good reason to first remind readers that the CAA is running a survey on the use of active CO detectors in general aviation. Anyone can register through here for a trial that runs until August next year and which will hopefully produce some useful safety feedback. Meanwhile, Sensorcon has introduced a couple of versions of their CO Monitors for aviation use. Their non-aviation versions are more widely available in the UK but the AV8 can be obtained through LAS Aerospace by searching with the Aircraft Spruce product code. There are a number of models but buyers will probably make their decision based on a requirement for the vibration mode. Most, though, will probably choose to make use of the panel mount and cite it where it can be frequently scanned.


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