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N206WJ accident description

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Tail numberN206WJ
Accident dateSeptember 19, 1999
Aircraft typeBeech A36TC
LocationFranklinton, LA
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On September 19, 1999, at 1258 central daylight time, a Beech A36TC single-engine airplane, N206WJ, collided with trees and terrain following a loss of control while attempting a go-around at the Franklinton Airport, near Franklinton, Louisiana. Impact forces and fire destroyed the airplane. The instrument rated private pilot and his 3 passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight for which a weather briefing was received and an IFR flight plan was filed. The intended 263-nautical mile flight originated from the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) at approximately 1234, with the Dannelly Field Airport (MGM), near Montgomery, Alabama, as the intended destination.

According to information provided by Air Traffic Control (ATC), the airplane was in cruise flight, at an assigned altitude of 11,000 feet msl, on transponder code 2743, cleared on a direct flight to the Dannelly Field Airport, near Montgomery, Alabama, when the pilot reported to Houston Center that "he wanted to come down to the nearest airport due to a cylinder overheating problem." The controller provided radar vectors to navigate to the Franklinton Airport (2R7), located 56 nautical miles east of BTR, which was the nearest available airport at the time the pilot made the request. The pilot was initially cleared to descent to 4,000 feet, and was later cleared down to 3,000 feet. At the time the pilot acknowledged the descent to 3,000 feet, he added, "the engine was cooling off, just got a little rough."

The controller asked the pilot if he was declaring an emergency to which the pilot replied "I believe we are OK at this time." The controller also asked the pilot "if he wanted to go to a longer airport." The pilot did not reply. Radar services were terminated after the pilot cancelled IFR when over the airport.

A witness at the golf course adjacent to the airport reported that the airplane "was high and fast" as it entered the landing pattern for runway 31. Several other witnesses at the golf course observed the airplane flying over runway 31 with the landing gear extended, at a steady altitude estimated between 15 to 35 feet above the runway. Witnesses reported that as the airplane neared the departure end of the runway, the airplane assumed a nose high attitude as "if the airplane was attempting to climb," and subsequently, they heard the sound of the engine increase. One of the witnesses stated, "the engine sounded as if it was flooded or bogged down."

The airplane continued straight ahead in a pronounced nose-high attitude. The airplane was observed clearing a row of smaller trees and power lines beyond the airport perimeter, and crossing the road perpendicular to the departure end of the runway. A witness stated that prior to impacting the taller trees, the wings of the airplane appeared to be "rocking or dipping from side to side." The airplane collided with the tops of 50 to 60-foot high trees and subsequently impacted the ground in a left wing low attitude, coming to rest on its left side, approximately 1,384 feet from the departure end of runway 31.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The 36-year old pilot, who occupied the left front seat of the airplane, started flying on August 28, 1995. He earned his private pilot certificate with a single-engine land airplane rating on August 16, 1996. He received his multiengine rating on October 22, 1996. His most recent FAA medical certificate (Class II) was issued on September 2, 1999, without any waivers or limitations. On the pilot's insurance application form, the pilot reported having accumulated a total of 450 hours, with a total of 150 hours in the accident airplane, and 265 hours of experience in airplanes with a retractable landing gear. His last biennial flight review (BFR) was completed January 20, 1999, in the same make and model airplane.

The person who occupied the right front seat was the pilot's friend. She was not a pilot and had never received any flight training. The passengers in the rear seats were the pilot's brother and his wife.

The occupants of the airplane attended a football game at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, between Louisiana State University (LSU) and Auburn University on the previous afternoon. The purpose of the flight was to return home to Montgomery, Alabama.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The FAA issued the airplane's airworthiness certificate on August 14, 1981. The aircraft's original owner operated the airplane in Germany, where it was assigned German registration D-EFVN. According to FAA records, the airplane was registered to the present owner on January 23, 1998.

The most recent annual inspection was completed on January 22, 1999. The airplane was estimated to have accumulated 149 hours since the last annual inspection. Based on data derived from aircraft maintenance work orders provided by representatives of the family, the airplane was estimated to have accumulated a total of 4,766 hours. The engine, a 300-horsepower Continental TSIO-520-UB, serial number 248936-R, was remanufactured on May 25, 1990, at Mobile, Alabama. According to data provided by the engine manufacturer, the engine was shipped to Limess Aviation in Switzerland, on May 31, 1990.

The 1981-model airplane, which was modified by the installation of wing tip fuel tanks (20 gallons each), was last serviced with 35 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel by Louisiana Aircraft, Inc., of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at 1148 on the morning of the accident. The airplane was estimated to have 76 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel on board at the time of the accident. The fixed base operator (FBO) added that the pilot purchased a quart of engine oil at 1235. The engine oil cap was found secured on the engine at the accident site.

A family member reported that the airplane had experienced electrical problems on a recent trip to Florida. The aircraft records reflected that the alternator and alternator coupler were replaced by an FBO in West Palm Beach, Florida. No deficiencies were found with the recently installed system. The airplane was equipped with an auxiliary generator, which was installed on a pad to the right of the vacuum pump.

The 6-place airplane was equipped with a total of 4 seats at the time of the accident. The remains of the baggage located in the rear of the airplane were estimated by the Investigator-in-charge (IIC) to amount to 50 pounds. An estimate of the weight of the airplane at the time of the accident placed the airplane within its weight and balance limits.

According to a family member, the pilot always kept the aircraft records in his flight bag, along with navigation charts and approach plates. Several burned-out pages, resembling pages from an aircraft or engine logbook, were found in the wreckage.

AERODRONE INFORMATION

The Franklinton Municipal Airport (2R7) is a public airport located approximately 3-statue miles southeast of the City of Franklinton, in Washington Parish, Louisiana. The airport is owned and operated by the City of Franklinton. The airport, which is unattended and does not have fuel available, features a single 3,000-foot long, by 75-foot wide asphalt runway.

The airport's visual slope indicators (VASI) for both runways were reported as out of service indefinitely. The airport's published common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) did not have recording capabilities. The airport was last inspected by aeronautical personnel from the State of Louisiana on 22 January, 1999. The airport has trees at the approach ends of both runways (13 and 31). The airport was not equipped with rescue and fire fighting equipment. The golf course for the Franklinton Country Club borders the northwest perimeter of the airport.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located in a heavily wooded area approximately 1,384 feet from the departure end of runway 31, approximately 8 feet south of the extended centerline of the runway. The GPS coordinates for the accident site, as taken by a sheriff's deputy were: North 30 degrees 49.416 minutes, and West 090 degrees 08.020 minutes. The elevation of the accident site was estimated as 175 feet.

Examination of the site revealed a linear wreckage path, including tree strikes, extending for a total distance of approximately 110 feet on a measured magnetic heading of 315 degrees. Freshly topped trees at a height of about 45 feet above the ground marked the beginning of the wreckage path. Pieces of wing skin were found at the base of the trees. The entire hinged leading edge of the left wing was the first large aircraft component found along the wreckage path. The two wing tip fuel tanks were found in a 25-foot wide gully/ravine that ran nearly perpendicular to the wreckage path. A total of seven trees, with trunks averaging 8-inches in diameter were cut or downed during the accident sequence.

The fuselage came to rest on its left side on a measured magnetic heading of 340 degrees. The tail cone of the airplane survived the fire and remained attached to the fuselage by the rudder, elevators and trim tab cables. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer, and the two elevators remained attached to the horizontal stabilizers. The tip of the rudder, containing the counter weight for the rudder, was found in the gully between the two tip tanks. Flight control cable continuity was established from the rudder horn to the area where the pedals were located. The ends of all of the flight controls that were exposed to fire were found to be intact.

The fire consumed the instrument panel and all of the navigation and communication radios.

The handle for the main cabin door and the door latch for the top of the cabin door were found in the locked position.

Examination of the wreckage revealed that the landing gear was "in-transit" near the fully retracted position. The flaps were found in the fully extended (down 30 degrees) position. The trim actuator for right hand elevator trim was found extended 1.69 inches. A representative of the airplane's manufacturer stated that this measurement equates to a 15-degree nose down trim position.

The fuel selector was found in the right wing tip position.

The throttle, propeller control, and mixture control levers were found in the full forward position. The propeller governor arm was found in the full forward position.

The engine sustained extensive post-impact fire damage. The engine remained partially connected to the airframe by means of the engine control cables. The accessory section of the engine was fire damaged. The left magneto was consumed by fire and the right magneto was severely fire-damaged. The ignition harness was destroyed by fire. The engine crankcase was not fire-damaged.

The engine was inspected at the accident site. No signs of a catastrophic failure were noted at the accident site; however, both spark plugs for the #2 cylinder were found heavily contaminated with metal particles.

The turbocharger assembly sustained extensive fire damage; however, the turbine wheel was free to turn by hand. The waste gate controller was found in the full open position.

The propeller assembly remained bolted to the propeller flange on the engine crankshaft. No significant blade leading edge damage was found on any of the 3 propeller blades. No tip or twisting damage was found on any of the blades. One blade was loose on the hub. The chrome propeller spinner did not show any evidence of rotational damage. The data found inscribed on the data plate found on the propeller blades was printed in German.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy and toxicological tests were ordered on the pilot. The Office of the Medical Examiner for Washington County requested the autopsy. The autopsy was performed by the Office of the Medical Examiner for the Orleans Parish, in New Orleans, Louisiana, on September 20, 1999. The Parish of Orleans also performed toxicological tests for alcohol and commonly abused drugs and alkaloids. Test results were negative.

FIRE

A fire consumed the cabin and the left wing of the airplane. With the exception of steel tubular seat frames, the stainless steel engine firewall, the engine control cables, flight control cables, and other steel gears and components, the fuselage was consumed by fire. The investigating team did not find any signs of a pre-impact fire.

The airplane was equipped with a 1,900 psi oxygen system. The 80-cubic foot oxygen cylinder separated from its mount and was found near the remains of the instrument panel. The cylinder's valve was still attached and was found in the full open position. The oxygen cylinder was not compromised by the fire.

SURVIVAL ASPECTS

According to local law enforcement personnel, four 911-calls were received by the dispatcher between 1301 and 1302. The first unit of the Franklinton Fire Department arrived on scene at 1307, with 3 additional fire units arriving within the next few minutes.

The two passengers in the rear seats were thrown clear of the wreckage during the accident sequence. The male passenger was able to tell rescue personnel the number of occupants on the airplane. The male passenger also reported to one of the rescuers that they were en route to Montgomery, Alabama, when "their cylinder head overheated." He added that "his brother was the pilot" and they "were going to land at Franklinton to check out the problem." The male passenger passed away at the hospital later that evening.

The airplane was equipped with an electronic locator transmitter (ELT). An ELT signal was not received from the airplane. The ELT was found to have sustained extensive fire damage.

TEST AND RESEARCH

The engine was transported directly from the accident site, to the engine manufacturer's facilities in Mobile, Alabama. A detailed examination and teardown of the engine was conducted at the engine manufacturer's facility on September 30, 1999, under the supervision of the NTSB IIC. The engine examination revealed a hole eroded through the side of the piston for the #2 cylinder at about the 4 o'clock position. The thermocouple for the engine cylinder head temperature was installed on the #2 cylinder. The remaining 5 other cylinders exhibited normal operational signatures.

Additionally, both spark plugs for the #2 cylinder were found filled with aluminum debris around the electrodes. The engine manufacturer concluded that "the engine was capable of producing reduced power due to the inoperative number 2 cylinder."

The McCauley propeller was examined on November 16, 1999, under the supervision of an FAA inspector. Examination of the propeller concluded "low power operation at the time of impact."

ADDITIONAL DATA

The wreckage of the airplane was released to the owner's representative at the accident site following the field portion of the investigation. The engine and propeller were retained for further examination and testing. They were both released upon completion to their respective examinations.

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