National Transportation Safety Board
Aviation Accident Final Report
Date & Time:
06/11/2013, 2230 EDT
Loss of control in flight
Flight Conducted Under:
Part 91: General Aviation - Personal
The pilot could not recall any information about the accident except that the airplane had ascended to about 200 ft above ground level. According to Federal Aviation Administration radar data, the airplane had performed three takeoffs and landings, and the accident occurred during the initial climb after the fourth takeoff. The airplane impacted the ground in a right-wing, nose-down attitude about 430 ft from the departure end of the runway. No mechanical abnormalities were noted with the engine or airframe that would have precluded normal operation.
Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the flaps were set at 30 degrees. According to the Pilot’s Operating Handbook, the flaps should be up for normal and obstacle-clearance takeoffs, and flap settings greater than 10 degrees are not recommended at any time for takeoff. Further, calculations of the airplane’s weight and balance revealed that the airplane was over the maximum allowable takeoff weight by 114 pounds before the airplane’s initial departure. The exact weight at the time of the accident could not be determined; however, it is likely that the airplane was still operating above the maximum allowable weight. Although the airplane had taken off and landed three times while overweight without incident, it is likely that the improper flap setting increased the drag and, in combination with the airplane’s overweight condition, degraded the airplane’s climb performance, which resulted in the airplane experiencing an aerodynamic stall at a low altitude.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to set the correct flap position before takeoff and his inadequate preflight planning, which resulted in the operation of the airplane over the maximum allowable gross weight, both of which led to an aerodynamic stall at too low an altitude at which to recover.
Maximum weight - Capability exceeded (Cause)
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)
Use of equip/system - Pilot (Cause)
Weight/balance calculations - Pilot (Cause)
Physical environment - Contributed to outcome
HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On June 11, 2013, about 2230 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172M, N118JD, operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during takeoff from Bowman Field (LOU), Louisville, Kentucky. The private pilot and three passengers were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
The pilot was unable to recall any information about the accident; however he did report that the altitude of the occurrence was about "200 feet [above ground level]." Review of radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the airplane was performing takeoff and landings to runway 33 at LOU. The airplane impacted the ground about 430 feet from the departure end of the runway in a right wing low, nose down attitude.
According to FAA records, the pilot, age 17, held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land. The certificate was issued on February 17, 2013. His most recent FAA third-class airman medical certificate was issued on October 30, 2012. According to the pilot's logbook, as of May 19, 2013, the pilot had accumulated 58.2 total hours of flight experience; of which, all of those hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane. The pilot had accumulated 9.6 hours total night time experience, of which 1.4 hours of night time experience were within the 90 days preceding the accident, including four night takeoff and landings.
The four-seat, high-wing, fixed tricycle-gear airplane, was manufactured in 1975. It was powered by a Lycoming O-320-E2D, 150-hp engine. Review of the airplane's maintenance records revealed that its most recent annual inspection was completed on March 1, 2013. At the time of inspection, the airplane had accumulated 8,173.5 total hours in service. The engine had accumulated approximately 1,145 total hours of time in service since major overhaul. The most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on May 14, 2013, and had 8,322.77 total hours in service.
The 2253 recorded weather at LOU, included wind from 160 degrees at 3 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 26 degrees C, dew point 19 degrees C, and a barometric altimeter setting of 29.95 inches of mercury.
According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, on the day of the accident, official sunset was at 2106, the end of civil twilight was at 2138, and official moonset was at 2311. The moon phase was waxing crescent with 8 percent of the moon's visible disk would have been illuminated.
The airport was a publically owned airport and at the time of the accident had an operating control tower that operated between the hours of 0700 and 2200. The airport was equipped with two runways designated as 6/24 and 15/33. The runways were reported as "in fair condition" or "in good condition" at the time of the accident. Runway 6/24 was a 4,326 -foot-long by 75-foot-wide runway and runway 15/33 was a 3,579-foot-long by 75-foot-wide runway. The airport was 546 feet above mean sea level. Both runways were equipped with medium intensity runway lights (MIRL) that were pilot activated over the common traffic advisory frequency. The lights were tested following the accident and stayed on for 15 minutes when activated.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
According to photographs provided by an FAA inspector, after impact the airplane pivoted around the nose before coming to rest upright, nose down, on a golf course. Both propeller blades exhibited chordwise scratching and the wings and fuselage sustained substantial damage.
Postaccident examination by an FAA inspector and a representative of the airplane's manufacturer revealed that the flap actuator jackscrew measured about 4 inches, which correlated to a 30 degree flap position. Postaccident examination of the airplane and engine did not reveal any malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.
The pilot reported to an FAA inspector that he did a weight and balance prior to accident flight. When asked if he still had a copy of it, he said he "did it in his head." Calculation of the airplane's weight and balance information revealed that the airplane's total weight was 2414 pounds; the maximum allowable takeoff weight was 2300 pounds.
Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25A)
Chapter 8, "Weight and Balance," states in part "Compliance with the weight and balance limits of any airplane is critical to flight safety. Operating an airplane above the maximum weight limitation compromises the structural integrity of the airplane and adversely affects its performance…an overloaded airplane may not be able to leave the ground, or if it does become airborne, it may exhibit unexpected and unusually poor flight characteristics…excessive weight reduces the flight performance of an airplane in almost every respect. The most important performance deficiencies of the overloaded airplane are…higher stalling speed."
Cessna 172M Pilot Operating Handbook
Section 2, "Takeoff" states in part "Wing Flap Settings – Normal and obstacle clearance takeoffs are performed with wing flaps up… Flap settings greater than 10 degrees are not recommended at any time for takeoff…" Also, a review of the "normal take-off" and "maximum performance take-off" stated in part that, the wing flaps setting is zero degrees.
History of Flight
Prior to flight
Aircraft loading event
Loss of control in flight (Defining event)
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)
Other Aircraft Rating(s):
Seatbelt, Shoulder harness
Second Pilot Present:
Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
58.2 hours (Total, all aircraft), 58.2 hours (Total, this make and model), 22.3 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 5.6 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 1.4 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)
Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information
Year of Manufacture:
Landing Gear Type:
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Airframe Total Time:
8322 Hours as of last inspection
C91 installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
CARDINAL WINGS AVIATION LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held:
Meteorological Information and Flight Plan
Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation:
LOU, 546 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site:
1 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
3 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
29.95 inches Hg
26°C / 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Louisville, KY (LOU)
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Louisville, KY (LOU)
Type of Clearance:
Type of Airspace:
Bowman Field (LOU)
Runway Surface Type:
Runway Surface Condition:
3579 ft / 75 ft
Touch and Go; Traffic Pattern
Wreckage and Impact Information
38.232500, -85.669444 (est)
Investigator In Charge (IIC):
John J Neylon
Additional Participating Persons:
Shannon Bengeyfield; FAA/FSDO; Louisville, KY
Steve Miller; Cessna Aircraft; Wichita, KS
James M Childers; Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, PA
The NTSB did not travel to the scene of this accident.