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N912EE accident description

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Tail numberN912EE
Accident dateSeptember 02, 2004
Aircraft typeRedgate Europa Classic
LocationMarble Canyon, AZ
Near 36.809166 N, -111.659722 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On September 2, 2004, at an undetermined time after 1200 mountain standard time, a Europa Classic, N912EE, impacted terrain while descending about 1 mile south-southwest of the Marble Canyon Airport, Marble Canyon, Arizona. The airplane was destroyed, and the private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The pilot was the owner and builder of the experimental airplane. The pilot operated the airplane on the personal flight under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity of the accident site. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that no flight plan had been filed. The pilot's last known location was at the Marble Canyon Airport, from which he had departed at an undetermined time after 1200.

Acquaintances of the pilot reported to the National Transportation Safety Board investigator that the accident flight had likely originated on September 2, from the Long Beach Municipal Airport in southern California. They also reported that the pilot's intended destination was the Bullfrog Basin Airport, located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. The airplane's route of flight between southern California and the airports in Arizona and Utah was not established.

A spokesperson for the Marble Canyon (Airport) Lodge reported that the airport's pilot sign-in sheet was reviewed. On the sheet an entry was noted that indicated N912EE had landed at the airport on September 2, for "lunch." A further inquiry of employees at the airport restaurant revealed that one person recalled observing a private airplane parked on the tarmac around lunchtime. At the Safety Board investigator's request, the spokesperson examined the tarmac area where transient airplanes were routinely parked. No evidence of oil or fuel leakage was noted in the transient airplane parking area.

According to personnel from the Coconino County, Arizona, Sheriff's Office, at 1056 on September 4, a pilot who was flying over the area, reported observing a downed airplane. Thereafter, deputies proceeded to the accident location and observed the wreckage of N912EE.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land and instrument airplane ratings. He also held an FAA repairman, experimental aircraft builder certificate, with the following limitations: Inspection certificate for N912EE (the accident airplane).

The pilot's personal flight record logbook was not provided to the Safety Board investigator for examination. The pilot's flying experience was ascertained from data he submitted to the FAA on an application for an aviation medical certificate in March, 2002. At that time, the pilot reported his total flight time was 484 hours, and he had not flown during the preceding 6 months.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

On June 6, 2002, the FAA issued the accident pilot, who built the Europa Classic airplane, serial number A057, an experimental category airworthiness certificate. The airplane was equipped with an electrical system, altimeter, and a transponder. The airplane maintenance logbooks were not provided to the Safety Board investigator for examination. Papers found in the wreckage indicated that on June 26, 2004, the airplane's recording tachometer registered 130.5 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The closest facility to the accident site that reported aviation weather is located at Page, Arizona. Page is about 12.5 miles northeast (041 degrees, magnetic) from the accident site. In pertinent part, at 1156, Page reported its surface wind was from 360 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 10 miles; clear sky below 12,000 feet above ground level; and temperature/dew point of 33/-1 degrees Celsius.

At 1256, Page reported its surface wind was from 210 degrees at 10 knots, with gusts to 18 knots; wind direction 170 degrees variable 250 degrees; visibility 10 miles; clear sky below 12,000 feet above ground level; and temperature/dew point of 34/-3 degrees Celsius.

COMMUNICATION

The FAA reported finding no evidence of any services provided or communications with the accident airplane in the Marble Canyon area on the accident date.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The Marble Canyon Airport, elevation 3,603 feet mean sea level (msl), is uncontrolled. The airport has one asphalt runway, number 03/21, and it is 3,715 feet long by 35 feet wide. The recommended traffic pattern for runway 03/21 is left-hand.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

According to the Coconino County Sheriff personnel, the accident site was located at the following global positioning satellite (GPS) coordinates: 36 degrees 47.93 minutes north latitude by 111 degrees 39.35 minutes west longitude. The estimated elevation was 3,650 feet msl. The approximate distance and magnetic bearing from the accident site to the center of the Marble Canyon Airport was 1 mile and 25 degrees.

As indicated by sheriff and FAA personnel who responded to the accident site, the airplane impacted open, near level, desert terrain that was sparsely covered with native vegetation predominately less than 1 foot tall.

The initial point of impact (IPI) was noted by the presence of propeller blade(s) fragments imbedded in the soft, sandy, soil. Two of the three propeller blades were found fragmented; the third blade appeared intact. The sheriff reported that the airplane appeared to have impacted the ground while in a steep nose down attitude.

The engine's upper cowling was located about 15 feet northwest of the IPI. A stream of oil was noted in the ground swath between the IPI and the engine. The ignition was found in the "both" magnetos "on" position. The main wreckage, consisting of the fragmented and destroyed cockpit, engine with attached nose gear assembly and the empennage, were located about 65 feet northwest of the IPI. The engine and nose gear assembly were found separated from the fuselage. There was no evidence of oil streaking on the engine or airframe.

Both occupants were found to have been ejected from the cockpit and were located within 10 feet of the main wreckage. The wings appeared straight and they did not exhibit any chordwise or spanwise buckling signatures. The wings remained attached to the fuselage.

The empennage was observed broken from the fuselage. The horizontal stabilizer and rudder, and the vertical stabilizer and elevator, were found attached to the empennage. All flight control surfaces remained attached to their respective hinge attachment points. There was no evidence of fire.

The ground scar swath was oriented on an approximate magnetic track of 310 degrees. The relative position between the IPI and the approach end of runway 03 is consistent with the airplane having been on a right base leg to runway 03, or on the final approach path to the runway, but turned about 80 degrees left of the runway's 030-degree heading. The location of the accident site is also consistent with a 180-degree course reversal turn following a left crosswind departure from runway 21.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The pilot held a third-class aviation medical certificate that was issued March 19, 2002. No limitations were listed on the certificate.

On September 6, 2004, an autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office, Flagstaff, Arizona. The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological tests. According to the laboratory manager, no evidence of carbon monoxide, cyanide, or screened legal and illegal drugs including, for example opiates, marihuana, barbiturates, etc., were detected in specimens from the pilot. Ethanol, Acetaldehyde, N-Propanol, and N-Butanol were detected in specimens. The manager reported finding evidence of putrefaction.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Engine Examination.

At the direction of the Safety Board investigator, and under the on-scene supervision of an FAA airworthiness inspector, the technical director for Rotax Aircraft Engines, USA, examined the airplane's engine. In summary, during the teardown examination no evidence was noted of any preimpact mechanical malfunction. The FAA inspector indicated that evidence was found consistent with the crankshaft rotating during the impact sequence. He was unable to ascertain if it was rotating under engine power or windmilling. The inspector reported that because of characteristics of the lightweight propeller/engine assembly, the propeller may not windmill in level flight should the engine quit. However, if the airplane had been in a 30-degree angle of descent, then rotation of a propeller in an unfiring engine could possibly occur.

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