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N7527S accident description

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Tail numberN7527S
Accident dateApril 10, 1998
Aircraft typeAerostar 600A
LocationMapleton, ME
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 10, 1998, at 1837 eastern daylight time, a Ted Smith Aerostar 600A, N7527S, operated by Maine Flight Center, as Maine Flight 710, was destroyed when it struck the ground in Mapleton, Maine, immediately after departure from the Northern Maine Regional Airport (PQI), Presque Isle, Maine. The pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the contract mail flight which was en route to Bangor, Maine. Flight 710 was operated on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan under 14 CFR Part 135.

The flight was planned to depart about 1830 with multiple stops, a mid-point layover in Boston, Massachusetts for about 3 hours, and return to PQI about 0430 - 0500 in the morning.

A witness reported he observed the pilot preflighting the airplane prior to departure. He did not observe the details of the preflight inspection. The pilot was observed to taxi for departure and back taxi the length of Runway 1 for departure, and then depart on Runway 1.

Two occupants in an airplane waiting for departure provided statements.

The pilot stated:

"...At an approximate altitude of 300 feet AGL and over the touchdown zone of runway 19, the airplane began a left bank. This bank was initiated abruptly, but was not jerky or uncoordinated from my point of view. The left bank continued into an inverted roll and then nose dive. At last sight, the airplane top was facing my aircraft. The airplane then disappeared behind terrain and a fireball arose. The fire and smoke rose to approximately 50 feet AGL, and drifted to the south end of the field...."

The passenger stated:

"...takeoff from the other end. He did this and began his climb. It looked normal; he was not rocking from the wind. When he was about 300 feet in the air, directly in front of us he began to bank to the left. He appeared to turn too sharply and the plane began to roll. It rolled until I could see the top of the plane was on a 90 degree angle with the ground. It crashed just off the side of the runway, approximately 500 feet from where we were, on the hold short line...."

A pilot on approach to the airport stated:

"...At approximately 1835, I heard a conversation over the unicom frequency at Presque Isle, one statement heard was "Who's the cutie with you?" I do not recall what the response to this statement was. The next transmission I heard was "YIPPEE", and then approximately 1-2 minutes later I heard the following transmission, "Get the fire trucks and ambulance out here. There is a plane that just went down at the north end." At that time I looked to the north end of the runway and saw smoke rising to less than 100 feet then going horizontal. I was on my descent to Presque Isle about 8-10 minutes away. The air was a continuous light chop with occasional moderate turbulence. I slowed my aircraft, a C-402C to maneuvering speed 150 knots. The wind at Presque Isle was from the north in 20 knot range with gusts to 30 knots, according to the AWOS at Presque Isle. Strong gusts were encountered on final and airspeed fluctuations of up to 15 knots were encountered...."

Other witnesses, on and off the airport reported seeing the airplane climbing, and roll to the left and descend in a nose down attitude. They described the winds as gusty.

The airplane impacted the ground during the hours of daylight, on airport property at 46 degrees, 41.98 minutes North latitude, and 68 degrees, 03.36 minutes West longitude.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane ratings. He also held a flight instructor certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He was issued a First Class Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airman Medical certificate with no limitations, on September 2, 1997. The pilot's log book was not recovered. According to his resume, he had a total time of 1500 hours, with about 500 hours of multi-engine time. He had 123 hours in make and model

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a 1974 Ted Smith 600A. It was maintained under an annual inspection program. It had received an annual inspection on March 26, 1998. The daily airplane log book records were destroyed in the accident; however, based upon estimates of daily flying from the operator, the airplane was estimated to have accumulated 50 hours since the annual inspection, for a total time of 8,286 hours.

The airplane was last refueled at Houlton, Maine, on the pre-dawn morning of April 10, 1998. At the completion of refueling, the fuselage tank was full (42 gallons). The airplane was then repositioned to PQI, for the next flight, that evening. The actual fuel load onboard at departure was not determined.

The airplane weight and balance was computed for conditions of minimum and maximum fuel. Both weights fell within the published weight and balance envelope.

The following airspeeds were extracted from the FAA Approved Airplane Flight Manual, and lists angles of bank, and corresponding stall speeds in miles per hour for the airplane with the landing gear and wing flaps retracted.

Bank Angle 4000 pounds 4500 pounds 5000 pounds

0 degree Bank 82 IAS 88 IAS 92 IAS 20 degree Bank 85 IAS 89 IAS 94 IAS 40 degree Bank 84 IAS 99 IAS 104 IAS 60 degree Bank 106 IAS 112 IAS 118 IAS

The airspeed indicator had MPH on the outer ring and Knots on the inner ring.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Following are the recorded times of observation, wind directions and velocities for PQI:

Time Direction Velocity Gusts

1715 360 23 knots 27 knots 1812 360 17 knots 24 knots 1832 360 17 knots 25 knots 1912 360 18 knots 22 knots

AERODROME INFORMATION

The Northern Maine Regional Airport was a non-towered airport. Communications were not recorded. Runway 1 was 7,440 feet long, 150 feet wide, and had an asphalt surface. The approach end of runway 1 was 479 feet high. The departure end was 534 feet high. The terrain north of the departure end of the runway had an elevation of 550 feet.

RADAR AND OTHER REMOTELY RECORDED DATA

Radar data was received from the Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ATRCC), in the NTAP format. Two radar contacts, identified by the transponder code of 4606 were observed, one at 1836:18, with an altitude of 800 feet, and the other at 1836:30, with an altitude of 1,000 feet. The two radar contacts were on a magnetic heading of 6.6 degrees, and separated by 0.45 nautical miles.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane was examined at the accident site on April 11, 1998. The impact site was about 800 feet west of the runway and 300 feet prior to the departure end of runway 1. The airplane came to rest about 40 feet from the initial ground impact, on a heading of 280 degrees magnetic. The landing gear was retracted, and the wing flaps were up. The wings were orientated 290 degrees / 110 degrees. The forward fuselage was bent to the right and parallel to the leading edge of the right wing. The aft fuselage with the empennage attached was bent to the left. The right engine remained attached to the wing, and was pushed rearward. The left engine was detached from the wing and laying on the ground ahead of the wing.

Two circular depressions were observed in the dirt, about 40 feet east of where the airplane came to rest. The depressions were about 6 1/2 feet in diameter, similar to the propeller diameter, and about 13 1/2 feet apart. Between the circulars depressions, a small depression was found with cockpit glass and metal associated with the nose of the airplane. About 22 feet east of the small depression, curved pieces of red plastic similar to a right wing navigation light cover was found. About 18 feet west of the small depression small pieces of green plastic similar to a left wing navigation light cover was found.

The flight controls were operated by push rods. The fuselage was destroyed by fire, and the push rods in the middle and forward portion of the fuselage were not identified. Pushrods were found attached to the rudder and elevator. The left aileron push rod was attached to the aileron push rod. The right aileron and aileron push rod were separated from the wing.

Rudder trim was measured at 1/8 inch trailing edge tab left. The left elevator tab was measured as 3/4 inch trailing edge tab down. The right elevator tab was measured as 1/2 inch trailing edge tab down. The cockpit indicators for rudder and elevator trim were destroyed.

The cockpit controls for the fuel tank selectors were destroyed. The fuel valves were found with the left and right engines being fed from the fuselage tank.

Portions of the upper door including the locking handle and upper door frame were recovered at the accident site. The handle was in the locked position.

The only seats installed were the two pilot seats. The left seat with the pilot strapped in was ejected during the accident and was found 20 feet from the fuselage center. The seat belt had been cut when emergency personnel removed the pilot from his seat. The seat rail on the left side of the floor was pulled out of the floorboards and remained attached to the seat.

The outboard 8 feet of the left wing was bent up about 30 degrees. The leading edge skin from that portion of the wing was found in the initial impact crater.

About one gallon of fuel was found in the right wing. No fuel was found in the left wing.

The left engine was rotated, and compression was obtained in all cylinders. Valve train continuity was verified. The fuel control servo was dislodged from the engine, and the fuel lines had been compromised. No fuel was found in the engine. The engine oil suction screen, and oil filter were absent of debris. The spark plugs were gray in appearance. The fuel injectors were absent of debris except for the number 2 cylinder which was covered with oil. When the magnetos were rotated by hand, spark was obtained from all terminals.

The right engine was rotated, and compression was obtained in all cylinders. Valve train continuity was verified. The fuel control servo remained attached to the engine and contained fuel. Fuel was also found in the fuel lines and fuel pump. The engine oil suction screen and oil filter were absent of debris. The spark plugs were gray in appearance. The fuel injectors were absent of debris. When the magnetos were rotated by hand, spark was obtained from all terminals.

All blades on both propellers were bent aft. One blade on the right propeller had leading edge impact damage about one inch in depth. One blade on the left engine's propeller was bent rearward and aft, and the propeller hub was fractured. Rotational scoring was found on the front surface of all blades.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The toxicological testing report from the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and alcohol for the pilot.

An autopsy was conducted on April 11, 1998, in Augusta, Maine, by a Deputy Medical Examiner, State of Maine.

FIRE

None of the witnesses reported seeing an in-flight fire or smoke trailing from the airplane. Examination of the soot accumulations found no evidence of soot accumulations conforming to in-flight air flow patterns.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The propellers and propeller governors were forwarded to Hartzell Propellers in Piqua, Ohio, for further examination under the control of the FAA. According to the report from Hartzell:

"The strong similarity of crash damage in the two propellers is remarkable and indicates that both engines were doing the same thing at the same time of impact." "Both props were rotating at impact and generating power, possibly maximum power." "There were no pre-impact discrepancies in the propellers or governors that would have been a factor in the accident."

The fuel control units, fuel injection manifolds, and fuel injector nozzles were forward to Precision Aeromotive Corporation in Everett, Washington for further examination. The left engine fuel control unit (S/N 55372) could not be flow checked due to damage. The right engine fuel control unit (S/N 71632) was flow checked. According to the FAA inspector who attended the examination, nothing was found that would have precluded engine operation.

ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

The director of operations reported that the accident pilot initially had a tendency to fly about 15 mph slow on the initial climb after liftoff. He instructed the pilot to use a higher speed and there were no further problems in this area. The FAA inspector who conducted the pilots FAR 135 pilot-in-command and equipment qualification checkride wrote "Excellent Flying" on the checkride form.

Another pilot who flew with the accident pilot several times just prior to the accident reported that the pilot would make his initial climb at 120 mph until the landing gear was retracted, then he would accelerate to 140 mph for flap retraction, and then settle on an en route climb of 160 mph.

The airplane wreckage was released on April 13, 1998, to Mr. Jim Cobb, of Ryan Insurance Services, Inc, the insurance adjuster, in Biddeford, Maine.

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