National Transportation Safety Board
Aviation Accident Final Report

 

 

Location:

Cordele, GA

Accident Number:

ERA15FA017

Date & Time:

10/16/2014, 1230 EDT

Registration:

N946DR

Aircraft:

AERONCA 7EC

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

Loss of control in flight

Injuries:

1 Fatal, 1 Serious

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

Analysis

After a planned refueling stop, the pilot taxied to a runway intersection and began his takeoff roll. Witnesses reported that when the airplane was about 200 feet above ground level, it entered a gradual left turn, which progressed into a steep left turn. The airplane lost altitude during a 180 degree turn and then impacted the ground. An examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The pilot’s autopsy noted mild coronary atherosclerosis; however, it is unlikely that this would have resulted in preaccident incapacitation of the pilot.

 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
An in-flight loss of control for reasons that could not be determined based on the available evidence.

 

Findings

Not determined

Not determined - Unknown/Not determined (Cause)

Factual Information

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 16, 2014, about 1230 eastern daylight time, an Aeronca Champ 7EC airplane, N946DR, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from Crisp County Cordele Airport (CKF), Cordele, Georgia. The private pilot was fatally injured and the passenger received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The planned cross-country flight departed from CKF at 1230 and was destined for Peach State Airport (GA2), Williamson, Georgia. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

After an uneventful 200 nautical mile cross-country trip, the accident airplane landed at CKF with three other airplanes and the pilot purchased about 13.3 gallons of fuel. The accident airplane was the first of the four airplanes that then departed in sequence from the mid-field point of runway 28, a 5,001-foot-long, 150-foot-wide, asphalt runway. After making a radio call to announce that the group was departing on a northerly heading, the pilot initiated a takeoff roll. The airplane lifted off from the runway and entered a climb. After reaching about 200 feet above ground level, the airplane entered a gradual left turn that progressed into a steep turn and slight descent. The airplane then entered a nose-down attitude before it impacted the ground, spun around and came to rest.

Each member of the group used a GPS device to navigate each leg. A handheld Garmin 496 GPS receiver was recovered from the cockpit of the accident airplane and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory, Washington, DC. Examination of the downloaded data revealed that the accident flight was not recorded; however, the data corroborated the group members' recount of the cross-country flight to GA2.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 62, held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) private pilot certificate that was issued on June 18, 1998, with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on December 11, 2013. According to the pilot's logbook, as of July 31, 2014 he had accumulated a total of 3,263 flight hours; of which, 347.5 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.

The pilot's wife and surviving passenger stated that the pilot accumulated about 30 hours of additional flight experience from August 2014 to September 2014.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The two-seat, tandem, high-wing, conventional gear airplane was manufactured in 1946, and equipped with a Continental Motors C-90-12F, 90-horsepower engine. The airplane was constructed of welded tube covered by fabric. The fabric covered wings contained a wood spar with hydro-formed aluminum alloy ribs. Both the flight and engine controls could be manipulated by both the front and rear seated occupants.

According to the airport manager, the airplane was fully fueled at CKF prior to takeoff.

The airplane's total time could not be confirmed due to the condition of the hobbs meter. Based on the pilot's logbook and estimated time provided by the pilot's wife. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated about 76.8 hours since its last annual inspection, which was completed on March 1, 2014. The airplane had accumulated 2,635 total flight hours at its last inspection and the engine had accumulated 572 hours since its previous overhaul, which was completed on September 15, 2004.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The reported weather at CKF, at 1235 included wind from 280 degrees at 8 knots; visibility 9 statute miles; scattered clouds at 4,400 feet; temperature 22 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 10 degrees C; altimeter 29.96 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane came to rest in a grass area in a flat attitude, on a southerly heading about 350 feet from the runway. All major structural and flight control components were accounted for at the accident site. The wings remained attached to the fuselage; the right wing displayed both outboard and inboard leading edge crush damage and the inboard wood spar was broken at the fuselage. No damage was noted on the elevator and rudder control surfaces and the elevator trim tab was deflected toward an airplane nose-up position. Both propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub and displayed chordwise scratches and leading edge polishing. One of the blades exhibited some curling and twisting at the rear of the blade, while the other blade exhibited a slight bend at the blade tip. Examination of the accident site and wreckage revealed that the airplane's right wing made contact with the ground before the airplane spun around 180 degrees and came to rest.

A representative of the fire department reported that the pilot's lap belt and shoulder harness had been cut by the first responder team.

The front seat flight control stick was broken at the control handle. Flight control continuity was traced from the cockpit controls to the primary flight control surfaces, with the exception of the right rudder pedal spring, which remained attached to the floor, but had separated from the right rudder pedal. According to the airframe manufacturer, the rudder pedal tension was spring loaded through a spring that connected to the rudder pedal and floor frame. A representative of the company that held the airplane's type certificate reported that the rudder pedal spring could be overridden by human force. Removal of a rudder spring might result in some discomfort, but would not inhibit rudder control.

The metal wing fuel tanks were intact and located in their respective wings. Both fuel caps were secure. Fuel system continuity was confirmed from the wing tanks, through the fuel distributor, to the engine.

The instrument panel was intact and contained most of the cockpit instruments. The electrical master, radio, and strobe switches were in the on position and none of the circuit breakers were extended.

Both of the engine's top and bottom spark plugs were removed and examined. The electrode wear and deposits were consistent with normal operating signatures. The right and left magnetos rotated freely by hand and exhibited normal sparking on all leads. Each spark plug produced a spark between its respective center and ground electrode when the magneto drives were rotated.

The carburetor had broken free from the engine and was impact damaged; however, the control arms remained attached to the carburetor and were capable of movement. The unit was disassembled, and the carburetor float and valve operated normally when actuated by hand and the fuel inlet screen was not blocked. 

The cylinders were removed and the engine was disassembled. Crankshaft and valvetrain continuity were established and no anomalies were noted with the cylinders, valves, pushrods, rings, and pistons. The examination of the engine did not reveal any evidence of a pre-existing anomaly or malfunction.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Division of Forensic Sciences Central Lab, Decatur, Georgia. The autopsy report listed the pilot/owner's cause of death as "multiple blunt force trauma" and "mild one vessel coronary atherosclerosis with associated hypoplasia of the left anterior descending coronary artery."

Forensic toxicology testing was performed on specimens of the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which detected no ethanol in the pilot's vitreous and no drugs in the pilot's urine. According to the pilot's health care professional, he was diagnosed with dysphagia in January 2014 and was prescribed Omeprazole. According to the FAA Aerospace Medical Research Forensic Toxicology website, Omeprazole was a proton pump inhibitor that suppresses gastric acid secretion that is available over the counter.

 

History of Flight

Initial climb

Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

Uncontrolled descent

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

 

 

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Private

Age:

62

Airplane Rating(s):

Single-engine Land

Seat Occupied:

Front

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

None

Restraint Used:

 

Instrument Rating(s):

None

Second Pilot Present:

No

Instructor Rating(s):

None

Toxicology Performed:

Yes

Medical Certification:

Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

12/11/2013

Occupational Pilot:

No

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

04/03/2014

Flight Time:

3271.8 hours (Total, all aircraft), 377.5 hours (Total, this make and model), 3147.4 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 40 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft)

 

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

AERONCA

Registration:

N946DR

Model/Series:

7EC

Aircraft Category:

Airplane

Year of Manufacture:

 

Amateur Built:

No

Airworthiness Certificate:

Normal

Serial Number:

7AC-4835

Landing Gear Type:

Tailwheel

Seats:

2

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

03/01/2014, Annual

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

1450 lbs

Time Since Last Inspection:

77 Hours

Engines:

 Reciprocating

Airframe Total Time:

2711.8 Hours at time of accident

Engine Manufacturer:

Continental Motors, Inc.

ELT:

C91A installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident

Engine Model/Series:

C-90-12F

Registered Owner:

ST JULIEN JANICE C

Rated Power:

90 hp

Operator:

ST JULIEN JANICE C

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

None

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Visual Conditions

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

CKF, 310 ft msl

Distance from Accident Site:

0 Nautical Miles

Observation Time:

1215 EDT

Direction from Accident Site:

 

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Scattered / 4200 ft agl

Visibility

10 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:

None

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

8 knots /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

/ None

Wind Direction:

280°

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

/ N/A

Altimeter Setting:

29.97 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

22°C / 11°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

No Obscuration; No Precipitation

Departure Point:

CORDELE, GA (CKF)

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

None

Destination:

WILLIAMSON, GA (GA2)

Type of Clearance:

None

Departure Time:

1230 EDT

Type of Airspace:

 

 

Airport Information

Airport:

CRISP COUNTY-CORDELE (CKF)

Runway Surface Type:

Asphalt

Airport Elevation:

310 ft

Runway Surface Condition:

Dry

Runway Used:

28

IFR Approach:

None

Runway Length/Width:

5001 ft / 150 ft

VFR Approach/Landing:

None

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

1 Fatal

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

1 Serious

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

1 Fatal, 1 Serious

Latitude, Longitude:

31.986389, -83.777500

 


 


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Stephen R Stein

Report Date:

11/05/2015

Additional Participating Persons:

Michael A Pupek; FAA/FSDO; Atlanta, GA

Kurt Gibson; Continental Motors, Inc.; Mobile, AL

Jerry K Mehlhaff; American Champion Aircraft; Rochester, WI

Publish Date:

11/05/2015

Note:

The NTSB traveled to the scene of this accident.

Investigation Docket:

http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/dockList.cfm?mKey=90263