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N270LM accident description

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Tail numberN270LM
Accident dateJune 19, 2003
Aircraft typePiper PA-32R-301T
LocationScottsboro, AL
Near 34.690277 N, -86.022778 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 19, 2003, at 1313 central daylight time, a Piper PA-32R-301T, N270LM, registered to and operated by the private pilot, collided with trees following a loss of engine power in Scottsboro, Alabama. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91, and instrument flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an Instrument Flight Rules flight plan was filed. The pilot, and one passenger received fatal injuries, one passenger received serious injuries, one passenger received minor injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight originated from Saint Simons Island, Georgia on June 19, 2003, at 0923.

A partial review of communications between Huntsville Air Traffic Control Tower, and the pilot revealed that he contacted the controller while at 5,000 feet and reported that he "just lost an engine". The Controller replied "understand you just lost your engine?". The pilot replied "Affirmative". The Controller informed the pilot that if he could fly heading one six zero there was an airport behind him about three miles which was Scottsboro airport. The pilot informed the Controller that he was now five hundred feet and wanted to know how far he have to go? The Controller informed the pilot that he had lost radar with him but he was three miles northeast of Scottsboro airport from where you said you lost the engine it would have been about a one six zero at three miles. That was the last radio communication with the pilot.

A ground witness in the local area stated that he was in front of his house spraying an apple tree and heard the airplane, it was coming from north to south. He said the engine wasn't cutting out but that the airplane was flying low maybe 600 to 700 feet high, and looked like it was going to slow. He didn't see the airplane go down but he heard a loud crash. The airplane was flying level when he saw it and it appeared to him that nothing was wrong with the airplane.

The passenger said they departed St Simons Island, Georgia at about 10:00 am estimated. Their destination was Nashville, Tennessee to stop for fuel then they were to continue on to Chicago, Illinois for a 10 day stay. The passenger continued by saying that they had encountered some storm trouble somewhere in Georgia and had taken a detour. The pilot was flying the airplane on autopilot when she noticed the engine stopped running. The pilot then took control of the airplane and started speaking with someone on the radio.

She passenger was seat belted in and never lost consciousness during the crash. Once stopped she immediately checked her sister and saw she was semi-conscious. She pushed open the door and exited the airplane. She had to push some of the luggage outside. She told her sister she was going for help. She heard the sounds of cars on the roadway and ran in that direction. She stopped a vehicle with two females and they gave her a ride approximately a half mile to a gas station where she notified the police.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of information on file with the Federal Aviation Administration Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane. A review of records on file with the FAA Aero Medical Records revealed the pilot held a third class medical certificate issued on March 6, 2003, with a restriction that he must wear lenses for distant and possess glasses for near vision. The pilot reported on his application for the medical certificate that he had accumulated 2,000 total flight hours.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

A review of maintenance records revealed that the engine was installed on March 31, 2003, after a factory crankshaft instalation. The annual inspection was completed on March 25, 2003, at a tachometer time of 1,468.1 hours. The airplane was sold to the registered owner on April 1, 2003. At the time of the accident the airplane had operated 36.2 hours since the Annual Inspection.

In addition, the maintenance records revealed that just prior to delivery of the airplane to the new registered owner, the engine had a documented history of maintenance actions on the fuel servo, and the replacement of the engine-driven fuel pump. The discrepancy write-ups reported that the engine "runs lean on the aircraft and idle rpm is erratic". The fuel servo was removed and sent to and repaired by Precision Air in Miami, Florida, and bench checked by them a second time after the problem persisted. The unit was then sent to B&S Aircraft Accessories in Wichita, Kansas, for repair. When the original discrepancy still persisted the engine-driven fuel pump was changed. The maintenance records also revealed that after delivery of the airplane to the new owner the right magneto was changed on April 3, 2003 at a tach time of 1,475.3 hours, or 7.2 hours since delivery.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The nearest weather reporting facility at the time of the accident was Huntsville, Alabama. The 1253 surface weather observation was: scattered clouds at two thousand seven hundred, scattered clouds at six thousand, visibility eight statute miles, temperature 81-degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 70-degrees Fahrenheit, wind two nine zero degrees at five knots, and altimeter two niner niner one. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located in a wooded area adjacent to a large corn field, 0.7 nautical mile west of the Scottsboro Airport. The wreckage path was 115-degrees magnetic and the airplane rested on a 055 degree magnetic heading. The airplane was on its left side with the right wing 35-degrees up and supported by tree branches. A fallen tree was observed resting on top of the forward cabin area. The top of the cabin area was crushed inward with the windshield and side windows shattered. Both sides of the forward fuselage were buckled in the vicinity of the cockpit seats.

Examination of the forward fuselage found the engine cowlings fragmented and crushed and the engine itself displaced to the right. The top forward part of the cabin was crushed inward by a large fallen tree which had to be removed to extract the front seat occupants. The top of the fuselage was wrinkled beginning at the rear of the baggage area and extending aft for about three feet. The aft cabin area sustained minor damage and was filled to capacity with baggage and other personal belongings. The empennage, vertical and horizontal stabilizers sustained damage.

Examination of the left wing found it detached at the wing root and lying flat in the immediate vicinity of the fuselage. A portion of the left flap was separated. Three feet of the left wing tip was separated and a circular crush was observed in the leading edge of the wing. The inboard portion of the left wing had separated with the wheel well structure and a portion of the left flap which was recovered separately along with the left main landing gear. The left main and auxiliary fuel tanks were intact with about 13 gallons of fuel remaining

Examination of the right wing found it attached to the fuselage and angled up about 35-degrees supported by tree branches. The right wing fuel tanks were breached and no fuel was evident. The fuel selector was on the right tank. The fire department had hosed down the wreckage with water during rescue attempts and water was noted in the fuel line between the right tank and the fuel selector, in the fuel line between the fuel selector and the boost bump, and in the fuel line from the boost pump to the engine.

Examination of the engine assembly revealed the engine had sustained damage to the left forward cylinder. Both the left and right exhaust manifolds were crushed. The propeller was removed and the engine was rotated using the vacuum pump drive. The engine rotated freely the gears in the accessory gearbox rotated freely and compression was observed on all cylinders except the #4. Further examination found damage to the #4 intake valve spring. The right magneto, which was partially displaced was removed and sparked on all leads when spun with an electric drill. The left magneto sparked on all leads when rotated by hand. The flow divider, lines, and nozzles were removed and found to be clear of debris. The oil suction screen was clean. The fuel servo, lines and nozzles were tagged and shipped to Precision Airmotive for inspection and teardown. The engine driven fuel pump was shipped to Crane for inspection and testing. No fuel was observed in the engine during the examination.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The State Medical Examiner, Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, Huntsville Division, Huntsville, Alabama conducted a postmortem examination of the pilot on June 20, 2003. The reported cause of death was Multiple blunt force injuries, and the Manner of death was Accident. The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. There was no Carbon Monoxide or Cyanide detected in the blood, there was no Ethanol detected in the Vitreous and there were no drugs detected in the urine.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Following the field examination of the engine, the fuel servo, flow divider, and fuel nozzles were shipped to Precision Airmotive Corporation where they were tested on September 30, 2003. The fuel servo body had impact damage that precluded airflow testing. The flow divider tested satisfactorily. The fuel nozzles, which had been removed at the time of the initial engine examination, were found reassembled incorrectly following that examination.

Additionally, following the field examination of the engine, the engine-driven fuel pump was sent to Crane Aerospace, a Lear Romec Division where it was tested on August 19, 2003. The pump was designed to operate when rotated clockwise while viewing the drive coupling. The tested pump produced flow and pressure when operated in the normal drive direction.

The airplane wreckage was released to the General Manager, Atlanta Air Recovery on November 13, 2003.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.