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N55CW accident description

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Tail numberN55CW
Accident dateJanuary 27, 2006
Aircraft typeBellanca 7ECA
LocationPontiac, MI
Near 42.665556 N, -83.42 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On January 27, 2006, about 0926 eastern standard time, a Bellanca Citabria, model 7ECA, N55CW, piloted by a commercial pilot and a certified flight instructor (CFI), was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering for landing at the Oakland County International Airport (PTK), near Pontiac, Michigan. The 14 CFR Part 91 instructional flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. Both occupants of the airplane received fatal injuries. The local flight originated at 0817.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane in a steep bank turn before it descended and impacted the ground.

A witness reported seeing the airplane flying in the traffic pattern prior to the accident. He reported that he was in another airplane positioned at the approach end of runway 9R, conducting a maintenance run-up when he witnessed the accident airplane. He said that he saw the accident airplane performing touch and go landings on runway 27L. He stated that he saw the airplane performing steep bank turns that were "not normal" within the traffic pattern. The witness further stated that he saw the airplane in the dive prior to impact. He stated that the airplane was in a dive and struck the ground in a nose low and left wing low attitude.

Another witness told local authorities that he saw the airplane heading south when it made a "hard left bank then fell out of [the] sky."

The air traffic control specialist that was working in the control tower at the time of the accident reported that the accident airplane was in the traffic pattern for runway 27L. He stated that after the airplane had completed a touch and go landing he offered the pilot runway 9L since the pilot was terminating his pattern work. He stated that the pilot accepted this offer and was cleared to land on runway 9L. He reported that the airplane made a tight right turn off of the departure end of runway 27L and "the next thing I knew he was on the ground."

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The front seat occupant held a FAA issued commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane ratings. The front seat occupant held a second class medical certificate issued on November 16, 2005. The front seat occupant reported having a total of 373 hours of flight experience as of the date of his last application for medical certificate. The front seat occupant's flight logbooks were not recovered during the course of the investigation.

The rear seat occupant held a FAA issued commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multi-engine land, airplane single engine sea, glider, and instrument airplane ratings. He also held a certified flight instructor certificate with airplane single and multi-engine, glider, and instrument airplane ratings. The CFI certificate was valid until December 31, 2007. The rear seat occupant held a second class medical certificate issued on July 28, 2005. The rear seat occupant reported having a total of 2,757 hours of flight experience as of the date of his last application for medical certificate. The rear seat occupant's flight logbooks were not recovered during the course of the investigation.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a Bellanca Citabria, model 7ECA, serial number 1294-79. The airplane was a single-engine, high-wing monoplane. The airplane had a fixed tailwheel type landing gear arrangement. The fuselage was constructed predominately of steel tubing. The wings were strut braced and the airplane was fabric covered. The airplane had provisions for two occupants in a tandem seating arrangement. Each occupant had access to a full set of flight and engine controls. Maintenance records indicated that the most recent annual inspection was completed on January 4, 2006, and the airplane had accumulated a total time of 2,634.5 hours as of the date of the inspection.

The airplane was powered by a Lycoming model O-235-K2C engine rated to produce 115 horsepower. Maintenance records indicated that the engine had accumulated a 2,634.5 hours total time in service and 258.6 hours since overhaul as of the date of the annual inspection.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The PTK recorded weather at 0935 was: winds 200 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; scattered clouds at 25,000 feet; temperature -1 degree Celsius; dew point -6 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting 30.43 inches of mercury.

COMMUNICATIONS

PTK was served by an air traffic control tower (ATCT) that was in continuous operation. The airplane was in communication with PTK ground control (GC) and the PTK ATCT south local control position (SLC) from 0817 to 0926. The following are excerpts from the transcripts of those communications.

0817:46 N55CW pontiac ground citabria five five charlie whiskey's delta row taxi with papa

0817:53 GC citabria five charlie whiskey pontiac ground taxi to runway two seven right

0819:26 N55CW pontiac tower citabria five five charlie whiskey holdin short two seven right for pattern work

0819:33 ATCT citabria five charlie whiskey pontiac tower runway two seven right cleared for takeoff fly right traffic traffic on a mile and a half final

0819:39 N55CW okay two seven right cleared for takeoff right traffic five charlie whiskey

0821:17 SLC citabria five charlie whiskey two seven right cleared option after option fly right traffic or taxi back this frequency

0821:24 N55CW cleared for the option two seven right uh right traffic five charlie whiskey

...

0923:16 SLC november five charlie whiskey runway two seven left cleared option

0923:19 N55CW cleared option two seven left five charlie whiskey

0924:13 SLC citabria five charlie whiskey runway uh two seven left cleared for the option just to keep you advised traffic's a learjet uh he's uh eighteen miles to the southwest inbound

0924:24 N55CW five charlie whiskey

0924:48 SLC you have citabria five charlie whiskey flying left closed traffic runway two seven left uh there he is right there i was gonna put him on the north side and then just base him once the learjet came in uh what you wanna do if you wanna change it obviously that's your control uh but he's been doing real tight patterns almost tacky like patterns on the south side and the north side (unintelligible) up there.

0925:24 N55CW and tower five charlie whiskey terminate this landing north side

0925:29 SLC (unintelligible) five charlie whiskey roger if you'd like you can just make a one eighty back to runway nine left---cleared to land

0925:37 N55CW land nine left five charlie whiskey

0926:57 SLC five charlie whiskey uh tower (unintelligible)

No further transmissions were received from the accident airplane. Between 0819 and 0926, the PTK ATCT cleared the accident airplane for landing or a landing option a total of 24 times. The full transcripts of the communications are included in the docket material associated with this report.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

PTK is served by 3 runways. Runway 09L/27R is 5,000 feet by 100 feet, runway 09R/27L is 6,200 feet by 150 feet, and runway 18/36 is 1,856 feet by 50 feet. Parallel runways 09L/27R and 09R/27L are about 550 feet apart when measured from centerline to centerline.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane came to rest approximately 500 feet west of the approach end of runway 09L. All of the flight control surfaces remained attached to the airplane. The engine and forward fuselage were displaced rearward and down relative to the cockpit. The engine was resting on the ground in an inverted position beneath the right main landing gear. The rear fuselage was bent upward and to the left at a point about even with the trailing edge of the wing. The rear fuselage was also twisted about 30 degrees to the right relative to the cockpit area. The right wing was partially separated from the fuselage at the wing root and its tip was displaced downward relative to the cockpit area. The left wing was contacting the ground and its tip was displaced upward relative to the cockpit area of the fuselage. The left elevator was in contact with the ground and the outboard end was bent upward. The left and right horizontal stabilizers, right elevator, vertical stabilizer and rudder were not damaged. No anomalies were found that could be determined to have existed prior to impact.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

On January 28, 2006, autopsies were performed on the pilot and the pilot rated passenger by the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office, Pontiac, Michigan.

Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report's were prepared for both pilots by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The results were negative for all tests performed.

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