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N735RD accident description

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Tail numberN735RD
Accident dateFebruary 16, 2004
Aircraft typeCessna 182Q
LocationRozel, KS
Near 38.289722 N, -99.449722 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On February 16, 2004, at 1714 central standard time, a Cessna 182Q, N735RD, operated as a rental airplane by Pratt Air Inc., was found destroyed in an agricultural field near Rozel, Kansas, after being reported overdue. Night visual and instrument meteorological conditions were reported between the flight's departure and destination airports. The 14 CFR Part 91 aerial observation positioning flight was not operating on a flight plan. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The flight originated from Pratt Industrial Airport (PTT), Pratt, Kansas, at an unknown time and was planned to arrive at Shaltz Field Airport, Colby, Kansas, about 0715.

The purpose of the flight was to reposition the accident airplane to conduct an aerial survey for Kansas State Fish and Wildlife.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board Meteorological (NTSB) Factual Report, which is included in its entirety within the docket of this report, a person representing N735RD called the Wichita Automated Flight Service Station 0535:40 and requested the weather at Colby, Kansas, in about 30 minutes. The caller did not specifically request an abbreviated or standard weather briefing. The AFSS specialist provided the following:

- Low pressure dominating the route bringing southerly winds - No frontal systems - No hazardous weather advisories - "Looking at all VFR [visual flight rules]" - Colby current weather: Goodland weather: ceiling 11,000 feet above ground level (AGL) overcast, visibility 8 statute miles (SM), wind 260 degrees at 9 knots - Colby forecast: Goodland Terminal Area Forecast (TAF): 12,000 feet AGL scattered, 15,000 feet AGL broken, wind 270 degrees at 10 knots, after 0800 winds 340 degrees at 15 knots gusting 25 knots

The briefing was terminated about 0536:40.

The president of Pratt Air Inc., stated the pilot would not fly very high. He said that depending on the airplane, the pilot would usually fly about 1,000 feet AGL. He saw the pilot receive a weather briefing about 0530, but wasn't sure when he departed. When the pilot didn't arrive at 0730, the "people" called the pilot’s wife. She called the president who in turn called the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to report the airplane was overdue. He said a search airplane departed around 0840 but had to turn back about 31 NM northwest from PTT due to weather. The pilots who searched for the airplane, flew a GPS direct route from PTT.

No reports of the flight's departure time were received.

PERSONAL INFORMATION

The pilot, held a commercial pilot certificate with single-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. He also held an experimental aircraft repairman certificate.

The pilot last received a second class airman medical certificate issued on December 17, 2003, with the following limitations, "Holder shall possess corrective glasses for near vision." The pilot reported a total flight time of 8,800 hours and 150 hours in the past six months at the issuance of his airman medical certificate.

According to the president of Pratt Air Inc., who was also a friend of the accident pilot, the accident pilot had not flown instruments for about 3 years and didn't have more than 20 hours of actual instrument flight time. He arrived at these estimates because the pilot was the only one who he rented the airplane to. He said about 90 percent of the accident pilot's flight time was agricultural flying.

No pilot logbooks were found at the accident site. The pilot's estate reported the pilot's logbooks could not be found.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The 1977 Cessna 182Q, serial number 18265617, was registered to and operated as a rental airplane by Pratt Air Inc., Pratt, Kansas. The airplane was powered by a Continental O-470-U, engine, serial number 820115-R, and a McCauley two-bladed controllable pitch propeller. The airplane was equipped with an Aero Safe Corporation auxiliary instrument air system installed under supplemental type certificate SA4844SW and a KLN89B Global Positioning System receiver. The KLN89B data card listed a North American database with an expiration date of February 19, 2003.

Logbook entries indicate that the airplane received an annual inspection dated January 18, 2004, at a tachometer time of 2,650 hours and a total time of 6,096 hours. The engine received an annual inspection dated January 18, 2004, at a tachometer time of 2,650 hours and a total time of 708 hours since installation. The last 14 CFR Part 91.411 altimeter and altitude reporting equipment test and inspection was dated March 28, 2001.

Part 91.411(a) states, "No person may operate an airplane, or helicopter, in controlled airspace under IFR unless: (1) Within the preceding 24 calendar months, each static pressure system, each altimeter instrument, and each automatic pressure altitude reporting system has been tested and inspected..."

METEOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The following meteorological information was presented in the NTSB Meteorological Factual Report.

The PTT Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) located approximately 137 degrees at 49 nautical miles (NM) from the accident location at an elevation of 1,952 feet mean sea level (MSL), recorded:

At 0550; wind 150 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 7 SM; sky condition clear; temperature -02 degrees Celsius (C); dew point -04 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.19 inches hg.

At 0652; wind 140 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 5 SM; mist; sky condition clear; temperature -02 degrees C; dew point -04 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.19 inches hg.

The Dodge City Regional Airport (DDC), Dodge City, Kansas, Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS), located approximately 218 degrees at 39 NM from the accident location at an elevation 2,594 feet MSL, recorded:

At 0553; wind calm; visibility 5 SM; mist; sky condition overcast 600 feet AGL; temperature -4 degrees C; dew point -6 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.18 inches hg.

At 0653; wind 280 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 5 SM; mist; sky condition overcast 600 feet AGL; temperature -3 degrees C; dew point -5 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.18 inches hg.

No weather observations were available from N735RD's destination airport at Colby, Kansas. Weather observations from Goodland, Kansas, in part, follow. The Goodland Municipal Airport (GLD), Goodland, Kansas, ASOS located approximately 301 degrees at 123 NM from the accident location at an elevation of 3,656 feet MSL, recorded:

At 0553; wind 260 degrees at 8 knots; visibility 10 SM; sky condition overcast 10,000 feet AGL; temperature -3 degrees C; dew point -7 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.10 inches hg.

At 0653; wind 260 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 10 SM; sky condition broken 9,000 feet AGL overcast 12,000 feet AGL; temperature -2 degrees C; dew point -6 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.12 inches hg.

The Liberal Municipal Airport (LBL), Liberal, Kansas, AWOS, located approximately 223 degrees at 103 NM from the accident location at a field elevation 2,883 feet MSL, recorded:

At 0555; wind 310 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 1/4 SM; weather unknown; sky condition overcast 100 feet AGL; temperature -5 degrees C; dew point -6 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.13 inches hg.

The Chicago Aviation Area Forecast issued at 0445 for the following areas of Kansas:

Northwestern: Scattered cirrus. After 1100, broken 15,000 MSL; top flight level (FL) 250. Outlook VFR.

Southwestern: Ceiling broken 1,000 feet AGL, top 5,000 feet MSL; visibility 3-5 SM, mist. From 1100, broken 15,000 MSL, top FL 250. Outlook VFR.

North central/northeastern: Broken 15,000 feet MSL, top flight level 250; until 0900 occasional visibility 3-5 SM; mist; outlook VFR.

South central/southeastern: Scattered to broken 15,000 feet MSL, top FL 280; until 0900 occasional visibility 3-5 SM; mist; 1500 ceiling broken to scattered 4,000 feet MSL overcast 10,000 feet MSL; outlook VFR.

The DDC TAF issued at 0337 and valid from 0500 to 0000, states, wind 150 degrees at 9 knots; visibility 5 SM; mist; sky condition clear.

From 0500: wind 150 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 4 SM; mist; sky condition broken 400 feet AGL.

From 1000: wind 280 at 10 knots; prevailing visibility greater than 6 SM; sky condition scattered 15,000 feet AGL.

The DDC TAF issued at 1125 and valid from 0600 to 0600 the following day, states wind 180 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 4 SM; mist; sky condition overcast 500 feet AGL.

From 0500: wind 130 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 3 SM; mist; sky condition broken 400 feet MSL.

The GCK TAF issued at 0411 and valid from 0300 to 0000 states, wind from 120 degrees at 6 knots; prevailing visibility greater than 6 SM; sky condition overcast 15,000 feet.

From 0500: wind 130 degrees at 6 knots; 3 SM; mist; sky condition broken 400 feet AGL.

From 0900: wind 310 degrees at 8 knots: visibility 6 SM; sky condition broken 15,000 feet AGL.

The GCK TAF issued at 0525 and valid from 0600 to 0600 the following day states, wind from 160 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 4 SM; mist; sky condition overcast 400 feet AGL.

AIRMET SIERRA Update 1 issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) with a time header of 0245, states no widespread IFR expected.

AIRMET SIERRA Update 2 for IFR conditions was issued by the NWS with a time header of 0535, was received by the Wichita AFSS at 0539:01. AIRMET SIERRA encompassed an area from 30 NM east-northeast of Hill City, Kansas (HLC), to 30 nautical miles west of Salina, Kansas (SLN), to 50 northwest of Enid, Oklahoma (END), to Liberal, Kansas (LBL), to 30 nautical miles northwest of Garden City, Kansas (GCK), to 30 east-northeast of Hill City, Kansas (HLC). AIRMET SIERRA stated occasional ceilings below 1,000 feet above ground level, visibility below 3 statute miles, mist, fog. Conditions continuing beyond 0900 ending by 1200. Figure 9 of the Meteorological Factual Report depicts the accident location to be within the AIRMET SIERRA Update 2 area.

A witness stated on the day of the accident, he was in his yard about 0530-0600. The visibility at the time was not any better than 1-1/2 miles. The visibility was 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 miles, until 1000-1100. He called the Great Bend automated surface observation system at 0900 which reported the weather having a ceiling of 1,000 feet AGL. He suspected the ceiling was 500-1,000 feet AGL, but didn't have a reference. The weather didn't get any better until about 1300-1330 and the visibility stayed "very poor." He was to fly to Wichita, Kansas, but didn't because the visibility was low. He currently has accumulated 3,800-4,000 hours of flight time.

A witness stated, he took off in his airplane at 0715 from his farm and the ceiling was 1,000 feet AGL and the visibility was at least 4 miles in haze.

A second witness, who lives "a little west" of the accident site reported that at 0730, the sky condition had ceilings 200-300 feet.

A third witness said he departed PTT, on the day of the accident about 0815 and was en route to Anthony, Kansas. He was asked over the radio to look for an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal. He reported back that he did not know of one. He was asked to fly northwest of PTT to attempt to locate an ELT signal. The pilot reported visibility was 2-6 miles in haze, about 20 NM northwest of PTT. He returned to PTT and was informed the accident airplane was overdue. The witness then departed PTT with a spotter to search for the accident airplane. Approximately 32 NM northwest of PTT at 800 feet AGL " they encountered a ceiling of 800 feet AGL and an in-flight visibility of less than one mile and fog." The pilot executed a 180-degree turn and returned to PTT. They did not locate the accident airplane.

There were only three pilot reports (PIREPs) for Kansas transmitted through telecommunication circuits between 0200 and 1000. These reports did not posses information regarding visibility or bases of sky conditions below 10,000 feet AGL.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy of the pilot was performed on February 17, 2004, by the Sedgwick County Coroner, Wichita, Kansas.

The FAA Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report of the pilot reported: no ethanol detected in muscle, 18 (mg/dL, mg) ethanol detected in brain, 10 (mg/dL, mg/hg) acetaldehyde detected in muscle. The report notes the ethanol found in this case is most likely from sources other than ingestion.

WRECKAGE IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located in an agricultural field located 317 degrees at 48.6 NM from PTT at an elevation of 2,182 feet MSL. The airplane was oriented vertically in the with the propeller buried about 4 feet below the ground. The empennage extended about 3 feet above ground and was crushed into the fuselage. The wreckage site had a smell consistent with aviation fuel. There was no evidence of soot or fire.

Examination of the wreckage confirmed flight control continuity to an area below the trim wheel. The elevator trim actuator extension was 1.27 inches, which equates to 0 degrees of trim. The aileron control cables were traced from the wings to the fuselage through various separations that exhibit necking with no abraded areas at the points of separation.

The instrument panel exhibited damage consistent with damage by impact forces. The airspeed indicator and altimeter indicators were separated from the instrument panel and their faces were broken out. There were no witness marks noted that were consistent with indicator needle slap. The altimeter setting on the altimeter face was 30.22 inches of hg. The directional gyro exhibited circumferential scoring. The attitude gyro casing exhibited circumferential scoring.

The ignition key switch was separated from the instrument panel and a portion of the key was retained within the switch and positioned towards the left. The fuel selector was positioned on the left fuel tank.

The engine was unearthed and found to be oriented vertically in the ground with a portion of the propeller hub and spinner attached to the crankshaft flange. Cylinder assembly numbers four, five and six were deformed rearwards resulting in a gap at the forward flange area. The vacuum pump, magnetos, starter, oil filter, and alternator were broken off. The bottom front of the crankcase was deformed rearwards. The exhaust and induction systems were crushed. The carburetor was destroyed. The oil sump was crushed into the engine.

Impact damage to both magnetos precluded drive rotation during their examination.

The vacuum pump housing exhibited impact damage and was broken from the coupler assembly. The drive coupler was intact.

The crankshaft could not be rotated by hand. The oil sump was partially removed and no metallic debris was noted to be in the sump. The oil pickup assembly exhibited impact damage, and the oil screen did not contain metallic debris. The crankshaft, connecting rods, and camshaft were intact.

The exhaust muffler shroud was partially inspected due to impact damage and exhibited no cracking or exhaust deposits.

Both propeller blades exhibited chordwise and spanwise polishing. Leading edge damage was evident on both blade leading edges. Both blades were deformed forward.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

FAA publication, FAA-P-8740-30B, HOW TO OBTAIN A GOOD WEATHER BRIEFING, states the following under "The 'Anatomy' of a Good Weather Briefing":

So that your preflight briefing can be tailored to your needs, give the briefer the following information: - Your qualifications, e.g., student, private, commercial, and whether instrument rated. - The type of flight contemplated, either VFR or IFR. - The aircraft's N-number identification. If you do not know the N-number, the pilot's name. - The aircraft type. - Your departure point. - Your proposed route of flight. - Your destination. - Your proposed flight altitude(s). - Your estimated time of departure (ETD). - Your estimated time en route. Request that the briefer provide you with a standard weather briefing.

The section titled "The Standard Preflight Weather Briefing" states the following:

At a minimum, your preflight briefing should includ

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