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N4873C accident description

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Tail numberN4873C
Accident dateDecember 14, 2004
Aircraft typeCessna T210N
LocationAbita Springs, LA
Near 30.444444 N, -89.993611 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On December 14, 2004, at approximately 1132 central standard time, a single-engine Cessna T210N airplane, N4873C, was destroyed while on approach to the Saint Tammany Regional Airport (L31), near Abita Springs, Louisiana. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to EP/RG Investments LLC, of Houston, Texas. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the 308-nautical mile cross-country flight that originated from at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport (GPT), near Gulfport, Mississippi, at 1105, and was destined for the Livingston Municipal Airport (00R) near Livingston, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

A review of the radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the RADES military site revealed that at 1127, the airplane was westbound at an assigned altitude of 6,000 feet mean sea level (msl). The airplane was then observed on radar initiating a shallow descent until it descended below an altitude where FAA radar could no longer receive a signal from the Mode C transponder installed on the airplane; however, RADES continued to track the airplane, as it turned northwest and continued to descend. The RADES data confirmed that when the airplane was abeam, and south of the Saint Tammany Airport, it made a 270-degree, descending left-hand turn before it proceeded on a northeast heading toward the airport. At 1132, the radar data ended. At that time the airplane was at an altitude of 400 feet msl.

A review of air traffic control communications revealed no distress calls were received from the pilot. Additionally, there were no reported eyewitnesses to the mishap.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 30 degrees, 25 minutes north latitude, and 89 degrees, 59 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land and instrument airplane. His last third class FAA medical was issued on September 8, 2004. On an application for insurance, the pilot had recently reported a total of 1,483 flight hours, of which 774 hours were in accident make and model.


At 1153, the weather observation facility at Slidell Airport (ASD), near Slidell, Louisiana, located approximately 10.6 miles southeast of the accident site, reported wind from 350 degrees at 10 knots gusting to 19 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 43 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 30.54 inches of Mercury.


An onsite examination of the airplane wreckage was conducted on December 15-16, 2004. All major components were accounted for at the scene of the accident. The airplane came to rest in the upright position in heavily wooded terrain, approximately 1.2 miles southwest of Saint Tammany Regional Airport on a magnetic heading of 022 degrees at an elevation of approximately 39 feet msl. The point of initial impact appeared to be along a line of several standing pine trees. Impact marks were aligned on a magnetic heading of 202 degrees, and became progressively lower toward the ground in the direction of the main wreckage.

The main wreckage included the cockpit, fuselage, empennage, tail section, the left wing, inboard section of the right wing, and the engine. The cockpit, forward fuselage, and inboard section of both wings were consumed by the post-impact fire.

The distance from the point of initial ground impact to the main wreckage was approximately 214 feet. A six-foot section (outboard) of the right wing was found along the wreckage path near the base of some trees.

Control cable continuity was established to all flight controls. The flaps were found set to 20-degrees and the elevator trim tab was found to be at an approximate five-degree tab down setting. The landing gear was found in the extended position.

The cockpit fuel selector valve was found in the "off" position.

The engine was examined at the manufacturer's teardown facility on February 10, 2005. The engine sustained impact damage and thermal discoloration due to exposure to fire. Engine continuity was established to the accessory section by manual rotation of the crankshaft flange. During the continuity check, compression was established to all cylinders except the number 3 and number 5 cylinders due to a damaged pushrod. Valve train continuity was established for all valves except the number 5 intake valve. Both magnetos were bench tested and produced spark to all leads. The spark plugs were removed and appeared dark gray in color.

The three-bladed propeller remained attached to the engine. All three propeller blades revealed equal amounts of damage with each blade bent aft approximately 30 degrees. No chordwise scratching or leading edge damage was noted on any of the propeller blades.


An autopsy was conducted on the pilot on December 15, 2004, by the Coroner's Office, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana.

The FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory performed toxicology testing on the pilot.


The airplane was last refueled at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport on December 12, 2004, with 46 gallons of 100 LL aviation gasoline. According to line personnel, both tanks were filled up to the filler neck at that time.

In a telephone conversation, the pilot's son disclosed that his father had been having problems with water contamination in the fuel.

According to the Cessna T210N Pilot Operating Handbook (POH), Emergency Landing without Engine Power checklist, page 3-5, the pilot was instructed to turn off the fuel selector valve prior to landing.

The wreckage was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company.

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