National Transportation Safety Board
Aviation Accident Final Report

 

 

Location:

Everglades City, FL

Accident Number:

ERA12FA271

Date & Time:

04/06/2012, 1645 EDT

Registration:

N548SF

Aircraft:

WEJEBE JOSE CA8 -SF

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

Aerodynamic stall/spin

Injuries:

1 Fatal

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

Analysis

Witnesses observed the airplane depart the airport to the north and make an abrupt right turn at an altitude of about 150 feet. One witness, who was also a pilot, described the wings as “shimmying,” appearing as if the airplane stalled before it banked to the right in a nose-down attitude. The airplane crashed and was nearly consumed during the postcrash fire. A postaccident examination was conducted with no preimpact mechanical anomalies noted.

Records indicate that the pilot built the airplane from a kit about 6 years before the accident. The pilot and airplane logbooks were not located during the investigation; therefore, the maintenance history for the airplane, and the pilot’s recent (and total) flight experience could not be determined.

Postaccident toxicological testing revealed metabolites of the drug diazepam (Valium) in the pilot’s blood and urine. Valium is a prescription benzodiazepine classed as a central nervous system depressant and tranquilizer, used as a sleep aid and to inhibit anxiety. The amount noted in the pilot’s blood suggested he took the drug 12 to 24 hours before the accident, and, as a result, it would not have affected his performance.

 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to maintain sufficient airspeed during the initial climb after takeoff, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and loss of airplane control.

Findings

Aircraft

Airspeed - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues

Lack of action - Pilot (Cause)

Factual Information

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 6, 2012, at 1645 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Comp Air 8 CA8-SF, N548SF, was substantially damaged when it impacted the ground shortly after takeoff from Everglades Airpark (X01), Everglades City, Florida. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the flight which was destined for Merritt Island Airport (COI), Merritt Island, Florida. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot was a professional fisherman who produced his own fishing show. According to interviews with the pilot’s family and friends, he had flown into Everglades Airpark earlier in the week to film the show.

The pilot’s cameraman reported to local law enforcement that they did some filming on the day of the accident, and then he drove the pilot to the airport for his return flight to COI. The cameraman observed the pilot perform a preflight inspection on the airplane, and then walk toward the airport operations building to pay his parking fee. At that point, the cameraman left the airport, and therefore did not observe the takeoff.

A witness observed the airplane depart from runway 33 and make a sharp right turn at an altitude of about 100 to 150 feet. The airplane became almost inverted, with the right wing down, before it rolled back toward a level attitude. The nose remained in a nose-down attitude and the airplane banked to the left before impacting the ground in a 10-15 degree left-wing-low attitude.

Another witness, who was also a pilot, observed the accident airplane depart the airport to the north. According to the witness, the airplane took off with an “extremely sharp upward angle.” As the airplane climbed, it appeared to be “shimmying the wings,” which the witness described as “indicative of a stall.” He then heard a change in the pitch of the propeller as the airplane turned “sharply” to the right, “with the wind.” The airplane “flattened out” before impacting the ground.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate, with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent third-class Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate was issued on February 24, 2011. At that time, he reported 1,208 hours of total flight experience.

Prior to the medical certificate issued in 2011, the pilot’s most recent medical certificate was issued on June 14, 2006. At that time, he reported 621 hours of total flight experience.

The pilot’s first medical certificate was issued on July 13, 2004. At that time, the pilot reported 30 hours of total flight experience.

The pilot’s family was unable to locate any pilot logbooks.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Comp Air 8 airplane was a single-engine kit-built airplane powered by a Walter 601 turboprop engine. The pilot was also the builder of the airplane, completing it in 2006, at which time it received an FAA airworthiness certificate.

According to the facility who maintained the accident airplane’s engine, the most recent maintenance they performed was on September 7, 2010. The maintenance was requested to fix internal and external corrosion on the engine as a result from standing outside at sea level.

A representative from Composite Technologies stated the accident pilot most recently brought the airplane to their facility about 4 weeks prior to the accident to have maintenance performed on the nose wheel. They also cleaned the airplane, as oil was appearing on the underside of the cowling and fuselage.

The representative also stated that the pilot often performed his own maintenance.

The pilot's family was unable to locate the logbooks for the airplane or engine.

Additionally, requests made to Comp Air for any documents regarding the building or maintenance of the airplane went unanswered during the investigation.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The wind recorded at Naples Municipal Airport (KAPF), Naples, Florida, located about 27 nautical miles northwest of the accident site, at 1753 was from 310 degrees at 12 knots gusting to 21 knots.

Examination of the Aircraft Operations Log for X01 revealed two entries by other pilots on the day of the accident. The comment regarding conditions at the airport, noted next to the entries, stated "14-22 KTS."

AIRPORT INFORMATION

Everglades Airpark was comprised of a single runway, oriented on a heading of 15/33 degrees. The asphalt runway was 2,400 feet long and 60 feet wide.

The overnight parking log for X01 confirmed that the pilot arrived at the airport on March 31, 2012.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

The airplane impacted the ground about 275 yards east of the departure end of runway 33. The wreckage path was about 20 feet in length, and initiated with 2 indentations in the ground, similar to the shape of the propeller spinner. The propeller was separated from the engine and located prior to the main wreckage along the wreckage path.

The main wreckage was oriented on a heading of 050 degrees, and nearly consumed by the post-crash fire. The left wing was separated from the fuselage and came to rest on top of the cockpit area. The engine was separated from the firewall and came to rest adjacent to the leading edge of the left wing. The remnants of the right wing, fuselage, and empennage sections remained attached through cables and wiring. The vertical stabilizer was lying flat on top of the right horizontal stabilizer.

Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to the flight controls.

The airplane and engine were recovered from the accident site and a more detailed examination was performed on April 24, 2012. A detailed report of the examination can be found in the public docket for this investigation. In summary, the examination of the engine and propeller revealed damage consistent with power application (in excess of 94%) at the time of impact. The airframe examination revealed no mechanical anomalies, and the pilot's seat position was confirmed to be in the appropriate position for normal operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Collier County District Twenty Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on the pilot on April 7, 2012. The cause of death was listed as Multiple Blunt Injuries with Conflagration. The report also detailed demonstrated marked atherosclerosis with 80% stenosis in the coronary arteries. The location or extent of maximal stenosis was not mentioned and no microscopic evaluation of the heart was performed.

The FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma conducted toxicological testing on the pilot. Following were the results of the toxicological testing:

0.046 (ug/ml, ug/g) Nordiazepam detected in Blood

0.019 (ug/ml, ug/g) Nordiazepam detected in Urine

Oxazepam NOT detected in Blood

0.318 (ug/ml, ug/g) Oxazepam detected in Urine

0.08 (ug/ml, ug/g) Temazepam detected in Urine

Temazepam NOT detected in Blood

All three of these drugs are metabolites of diazepam (marketed under the trade name Valium), a prescription benzodiazepine classed as a central nervous system depressant and tranquilizer and used as a sleep aid and anxiolytic.

According to the pilot’s FAA medical file, he first obtained third class medical certificate in 2004. He was recertified in 2006 and 2011; the only medical event reported in the interim was an uncomplicated hip replacement surgery. He denied taking any medication at each medical examination.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

A LaCie Hard Drive was retained from the wreckage and downloaded in the NTSB Video Recorder Laboratory. The download of the recording revealed no content of the accident flight.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Fueling Information

According to records provided by COI, the airplane was fueled with 152 gallons of Jet A fuel on March 31, 2012. Additionally, the tanks and trucks used at the facility were inspected daily. According to the inspection report, no anomalies were identified during the entire month.

No fuel was purchased by the pilot at X01.

Additional Interviews

A witness observed the accident airplane flying a few days prior to the accident. He was standing outside his shop on an island about 3 miles from X01, when he observed the accident airplane "buzzing the island" at an altitude of 200-300 feet, performing steep turns. The witness reported the airplane approached the island from the northwest, and maneuvered over the island "low, fast, and in a steep bank."

An interview with an Operations Specialist at X01 revealed the accident pilot had a history of "hotdogging" at the Airpark. He often performed steep turns after takeoff, and in at least one instance the airplane almost rolled inverted. The traffic pattern for runway 33 required a left turn after takeoff to avoid departures over the nearby town. According to the Specialist, the accident pilot had been reminded on several occasions about the procedures; however, he often performed a right turn after departure from runway 33 and flew over the adjacent town.

 

The cameraman was interviewed by local law enforcement after the accident; however, subsequent requests for interviews by NTSB personnel were denied. Additionally, a request for video documentation of the aircraft flying in the area was also not responded to.

Law Enforcement Records

A review of law enforcement and FAA records revealed the pilot received four speeding tickets between 1990 and 2012. Additionally, his driver’s license was suspended in 2005 after driving with an unlawful blood-alcohol content (driving under the influence).

The pilot did report the offense to the FAA (as required), and a review of his most recent medical application revealed a comment in the notes section of the application which stated “arrest for DUI appealed and not convicted. Charged with reckless driving. License reinstated.”

A review of the pilot’s FAA airman file revealed no previous accidents or incidents.

 

History of Flight

Initial climb

Aerodynamic stall/spin (Defining event)

Loss of control in flight

Uncontrolled descent

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

 

 

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Private

Age:

54, Male

Airplane Rating(s):

Single-engine Land

Seat Occupied:

Unknown

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

None

Restraint Used:

Seatbelt

Instrument Rating(s):

None

Second Pilot Present:

No

Instructor Rating(s):

None

Toxicology Performed:

Yes

Medical Certification:

Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

02/24/2011

Occupational Pilot:

No

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

 

Flight Time:

1208 hours (Total, all aircraft)

 

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

WEJEBE JOSE

Registration:

N548SF

Model/Series:

CA8 -SF

Aircraft Category:

Airplane

Year of Manufacture:

 

Amateur Built:

Yes

Airworthiness Certificate:

Experimental

Serial Number:

0585552921

Landing Gear Type:

Tricycle

Seats:

4

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

 

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

 

Time Since Last Inspection:

 

Engines:

1 Turbo Prop

Airframe Total Time:

 

Engine Manufacturer:

WALTER

ELT:

 

Engine Model/Series:

601D

Registered Owner:

SPANISH FLY ENTERPRISES INC

Rated Power:

724 hp

Operator:

Jose Wejebe

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

None

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

APF, 8 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

27 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

1753 EDT

Direction from Accident Site:

300°

Lowest Cloud Condition:

 

Visibility

10 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:

Broken / 2100 ft agl

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

12 knots / 21 knots

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

/

Wind Direction:

310°

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

/

Altimeter Setting:

29.82 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

27°C / 19°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point:

Everglades City, FL (X01)

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

Merritt Island, FL (COI)

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

 EDT

Type of Airspace:

 

 

Airport Information

Airport:

Everglades Airpark (X01)

Runway Surface Type:

Asphalt

Airport Elevation:

 

Runway Surface Condition:

 

Runway Used:

33

IFR Approach:

None

Runway Length/Width:

2400 ft / 60 ft

VFR Approach/Landing:

None

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Fatal

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Fire:

On-Ground

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

1 Fatal

Latitude, Longitude:

25.852778, -81.390278

 


 


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Jill M Demko

Report Date:

08/13/2013

Additional Participating Persons:

JR Rollins; FAA/FSDO; Miramar, FL

Publish Date:

08/13/2013

Investigation Docket:

http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/dockList.cfm?mKey=83316