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N577JS accident description

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Tail numberN577JS
Accident dateAugust 17, 2006
Aircraft typeSchifferer Breezy RLU-1
LocationRamona, CA
Near 33.039166 N, -116.9025 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 17, 2006, about 0720 Pacific daylight time, an experimental Schifferer Breezy RLU-1, N577JS, collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from the Ramona Airport (RNM), Ramona, California. The pilot/owner/builder operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The airplane was substantially damaged. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was killed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity of the airport; however, heavy fog was present about 1 mile west of the airport. The flight was originating at the time of the accident to an undetermined destination.

According to one witness, the airplane took off toward the west and made a right crosswind turn and then a right downwind turn within the traffic pattern. During the turn, the witness stated that it appeared to him that the engine had "quit." The airplane was in a straight and level attitude, then went into a nose down attitude and spin to ground impact. He estimated the airplane to be about 300 feet above ground level (agl). The witness indicated that the weather right over the airport was clear, with fog about 1 mile west.

Two other witnesses stated that they observed similar flight maneuvers as the first witness, however, they reported that the engine sounded like it was at full power during the entire event.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the 84-year-old pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, multiengine land, single engine sea, multiengine sea, and instrument airplane. The pilot held a certified flight instructor (CFI) certificate with ratings for airplane and instrument airplane. He also held a rating for repairman experimental aircraft builder.

The pilot held a third-class medical certificate issued on July 14, 2005. It had no limitations or waivers.

An examination of the pilot's logbook indicated that the pilot had a total flight time of 15,819 hours. He logged 6 hours in the last 90 days, and 2 hours in the last 30 days. He had an estimated 150 hours in this make and model. He completed a flight review on September 10, 2004.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was an experimental Schifferer Breezy RLU-1, serial number 4. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed that the airplane had a total airframe time of 146 hours at the last annual inspection. The logbooks contained an entry for an annual inspection dated July 17, 2006. The tachometer read 146 at the last inspection; the Hobbs hour meter read 101.4 at the last inspection. The Hobbs hour meter read 102.4 at the accident site.

The engine was a Textron Lycoming O-320, serial number 2618-27. Total time recorded on the engine at the last condition inspection was 146 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

The closest official weather observation station was Ramona (RNM), which was located at the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 1,395 feet mean sea level (msl). At 0703, the weather data recorded for the Ramona area reported: Calm winds; visibility 0.8 statute miles with mist; temperature 11 degrees Celsius; dew point 10 degrees Celsius; and altimeter 30.03 inches of Mercury.

At 0714, the weather data recorded for the Ramona area reported: Calm winds; visibility 0.2 statute miles with fog; temperature 11 degrees Celsius; dew point 11 degrees Celsius; and altimeter 30.03 inches of Mercury.

A Special Meteorological Aeronautical Report (SPECI) for the Ramona area was issued at 0726 PDT. It reported: Winds calm; visibility 1 mile mist; vertical visibility 100 feet; temperature 14 degrees Celsius; dew point 13 degrees Celsius; and altimeter 30.04 inches of Mercury.

The Airport/ Facility Directory, Southwest U. S., indicated that Ramona Airport had an Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS), which broadcast on frequency 132.025.

COMMUNICATIONS

The Ramona airport traffic control tower (ATCT) was not in operation at the time of the accident and there is no record of communications.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The Airport/ Facility Directory, Southwest U. S., indicated that Ramona runway 27 was 5,001 feet long, 150 feet wide, and had an asphalt surface

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airport manager reported that the airplane came to rest about 300 yards north of runway center on airport property. He also reported that the airport tower was closed at the time the flight departed.

The airplane was positioned in a nose down attitude with the leading edge of the wings on the ground. The aft empennage was positioned vertical to the flat terrain. The flaps and ailerons remained attached to their respective hinges. The tail flight control surfaces remained attached and appeared undamaged. Flight control cables ran from the tail flight control surfaces forward to the cockpit area.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

According to the County of San Diego, Office of the Medical Examiner, the cause of death was "multisystem blunt force injuries."

The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot. The report indicated 13 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ethanol was detected in muscle but no ethanol was detected in the brain. The ethanol found in this case was from sources other than ingestion. The reported continued 0.04 (ug/ml, ug/g) hydrocodone was detected in the blood, 0.17 (ug/ml, ug/g) hydrocodone was detected in the liver; dihydrocodeine was detected in the blood and liver; and quinine was detected in the liver.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

During the engine inspection, it was noted that 7 quarts of oil were present in the engine. The oil cooler was removed and the engine was secured into a mount. The top spark plugs were removed and observed to be clean with no mechanical deformation. The spark plug electrodes were black, which corresponded to rich operation according to the Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug AV-27 Chart.

The crankshaft was manually rotated with the aid of a tool in an accessory drive gear. The crankshaft rotated freely, and the valves moved approximately the same amount of lift in firing order. The gears in the accessory case turned freely. Compression was developed in all cylinders in the proper firing order.

The magnetos were rotated by hand and both produced spark from each tower, and their timing was found to be 25 before top dead center.

Fuel was applied to the existing fuel lines. Leaks were present at the fuel manifold valve, at the fuel selector valve stem, and at the fuel filter of the gascolator. The fuel selector, gascolator, and tubing were subsequently removed from the engine and an external fuel source was connected directly to the carburetor.

The engine was functionally tested. It ran for 5 minutes at about 1,700 revolutions per minute (rpm). The magnetos were isolated and a slight drop in rpm was heard. Both the throttle and the mixture controls functioned and moved freely.

The fuel selector was disassembled and functionally tested. There was leaking out of the O-ring. Deposits on the seats unseated the ball bearings. No visible obstructions to fuel flow were noted. Fuel flowed through the selector when tested with a fuel source.

The gascolator was inspected. The gasket was dry, brittle, and leaking. The filter bowl and screen were clean and clear. There was no apparent impact damage.

The carburetor was disassembled and inspected. The fuel present in the bowl was contaminated with minor sediment. The metal floats were intact. The needle valve and seat were normal and the main jet was clear. The finger filter was clear and unobstructed. The accelerator pump functioned properly and the plunger was intact.

The fuel lines were inspected. From the fuel manifold to the gascolator, a yellow varnish residue was present on the inside of the tubing. From the gascolator to the carburetor, the inside of the tubing was clean and clear. No visible obstructions were present anywhere in the tubing.

At the conclusion of the inspection, no evidence was found to indicate a mechanical failure or malfunction.

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