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N7868Y accident description

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Tail numberN7868Y
Accident dateJuly 18, 2005
Aircraft typePiper PA-30
LocationAurora, MO
Near 36.953056 N, -93.695 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 18, 2005, at 0907 central daylight time (cdt), a Piper PA-30 (Twin Comanche), N7868Y, piloted by a commercial pilot, sustained substantial damage during impact with terrain shortly after takeoff from runway 18 (3,002 feet by 60 feet, asphalt) at the Aurora Municipal Airport (2H2), Aurora, Missouri. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The business flight was operating under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 with an instrument flight plan on file with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. A third passenger was seriously injured. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to Kentucky Dam State Park Airport (M34), Gilbertsville, Kentucky.

The surviving passenger reported that the airplane had been flown earlier that morning to get fuel. The pilot performed a preflight inspection of the airplane before the passengers boarded. The pilot started the left engine without any noted problems, but he had some difficulties getting the right engine to start. The airplane's owner told the pilot that the engine was "still tight" after a recent top overhaul. The passenger stated that after the right engine started it "sounded okay." The pilot then taxied to the end of runway 18 to perform a run-up. The pilot used a checklist during the run-up and no problems were noted when the pilot "checked the engines."

The passenger reported that during the takeoff roll the airplane seemed "sluggish" and "wasn't picking up speed." After liftoff, the airplane's "stall alarm" sounded as the airplane crossed over a tree line which was situated south of the airport. The pilot "slightly leveled" the airplane and the "stall alarm" silenced momentarily before sounding again. The passenger stated that the right wingtip "went up high and the nose went down" simultaneously when the stall warning horn sounded for the second time.

A witness reported seeing the airplane takeoff as he was driving past the airport. As the airplane passed over his position it "showed no sign of trouble" and "it was well above the trees." The witness did not think the airplane was climbing and it "started to bank to the left and sliced into the ground left wing and nose first."

Another witness driving near the airport reported seeing the airplane "[teeter-tottering] side to side, altitude stayed the same." The witness noted that the next thing he saw was a "cloud of dust."

The airplane impacted about 1,900 feet south of the departure end of runway 18 in a vacant grass field.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

According to FAA records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot also held a certified flight instructor certificate with single-engine, multiengine, and instrument airplane ratings. FAA records show the pilot's last medical examination was completed on January 14, 2004, when he was issued a first-class medical certificate with no restrictions or limitations.

The last entry in the pilot's flight logbook was dated December 31, 2003. At this time the pilot had accumulated 1,519 hours of flight time, of which 1,458 hours were as pilot-in-command. The pilot had accumulated 1,012 hours in single-engine airplanes and 507 hours in multiengine airplanes. The logbook indicated that he had flown 277 hours at night, 112 hours in actual instrument conditions, and 92 hours in simulated instrument conditions. The pilot had provided 408 hours of dual instruction.

The pilot reportedly kept a contemporaneous record of his recent flying and would occasionally transpose the flights into his permanent flight logbook. During the investigation several papers containing historical flight information were recovered. The information included the flight's month and day, the flight's duration, and sometimes the aircraft utilized. The listed dates did not include their respective calendar year, so an accurate portrayal of the pilot's flight time at the time of the accident was not possible.

The pilot's application for the January 2004 medical examination indicated that his total flight time was 1,515 hours and that he had flown 300 hours during the previous 6 months.

On August 17, 2004, the pilot completed a flight review, as required by Title 14 CFR Part 61.56. The logbook contained a flight instructor endorsement for the flight review, but there was no corresponding flight entry in the logbook.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane was a 1965 Piper PA-30, Twin Comanche, serial number 30-940. The Twin Comanche was an all-metal, multiengine airplane that incorporated a semimonocoque fuselage and empennage design. The airplane was equipped with fully cantilevered wings, wing flaps, constant speed propellers, and a retractable tricycle landing gear. The airplane was configured to seat four occupants and had a certified maximum takeoff weight of 3,725 lbs.

The accident airplane was issued a standard airworthiness certificate on December 9, 1965. A review of the maintenance records showed that the airplane had undergone an annual inspection on June 23, 2005. The airplane had accumulated about 6,115 hours total time in service at the annual inspection. The airplane's recording hour meter was never recovered, which prevented the calculation of a total service time at the time of the accident.

The airplane was equipped with two 160-horsepower Lycoming IO-320-B1A engines. The IO-320-B1A engine is a four-cylinder, 320 cubic-inch displacement, fuel injected, reciprocating engine.

The left engine, serial number L-2387-55A, was overhauled on October 5, 1979. At the last annual inspection, the engine had accumulated about 1,852 hours since major overhaul. The left propeller was a two bladed Hartzell HC-E2YL-2BSF model, serial number BG 1997. At the last annual inspection, the constant-speed propeller had accumulated about 917 hours since overhaul.

The right engine, serial number L-2404-55A, was overhauled on October 5, 1979. At the last annual inspection, the engine had accumulated about 1,852 hours since major overhaul. The right propeller was a two bladed Hartzell HC-E2YL-2BSF model, serial number BG 1928. At the last annual inspection, the constant-speed propeller had accumulated about 917 hours since overhaul.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The closest weather reporting station to the accident site was located at the Springfield-Branson National Airport (SGF), Springfield, Missouri, about 22 nm northeast of the accident site. The following weather conditions were reported by the SGF Automated Surface Observing System:

At 0852: Wind 220 degrees true at 8 knots; visibility 10 statute miles (sm); clear skies; temperature 27 degrees Celsius; dew point 21 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting 30.04 inches of mercury.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The Aurora Municipal Airport (2H2) is located about 1.5 sm southeast of Aurora, Missouri. The airport has one runway: 18/36 (3,002 feet by 60 feet, asphalt). The general airport elevation is listed as 1,434 feet mean sea level (msl). FAA runway obstruction data indicated that there were trees about 66 feet tall located 695 feet off the departure end of runway 18. The trees were located 250 feet left of the runway centerline. An 8.1-degree slope was required to clear the trees.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The National Transportation Safety Board's on-scene investigation began on July 19, 2005.

A global positioning system (GPS) receiver was used to identify the position of the main wreckage as 36 degrees 57.172 minutes north latitude, 93 degrees 41.692 minutes west longitude. The GPS elevation of the accident site was 1,431 feet msl. The main wreckage was located about 1,900 feet south of the departure end of runway 18 in a vacant grass field. There were no obstructions in the general area of the accident site.

The wreckage was surveyed using a GPS receiver, tape measure, and compass. The first evidence of ground contact was about 85 feet northwest of the main wreckage. This initial ground scar contained small pieces from the left wingtip. The wreckage debris path was on a 118-degree magnetic heading. Another ground depression, consistent with a propeller impacting terrain, was located 33 feet from the initial impact point. The left wingtip was found along the wreckage distribution path about 51 feet from the initial impact point.

The main wreckage consisted of the entire fuselage structure, cockpit, right and left wings, empennage, and both engines. There was no evidence of an in-flight or ground fire. The airframe nose and nose landing gear were crushed aft into the instrument panel. The remaining cabin area remained intact.

The left wing main spar was broken at the spar splice area outboard of the flap. The left tip tank was completely separated, and was preceding the main wreckage. The left engine was partially displaced from the nacelle and was lying on top of the wing, inverted, facing rearward with propeller attached. The left flap remained attached to the wing and was in the fully retracted position. The aileron was detached from its support structure. The left aileron control and balance cables remained attached to the aileron bellcrank. The left aileron control cable was traced to the forward cockpit area. The balance cable was traced to the right aileron bellcrank. The left main landing gear was partially extended and had evidence of ground impact. The right wing main spar was also broken at the wing splice area outboard of the flap. The right engine was partially detached from the nacelle, hanging down with propeller attached. The right flap remained attached to the wing and was in the fully retracted position. The right aileron remained partially attached to the wing by the inboard hinge assembly. The right aileron control cable was attached to the bellcrank and was traced to the forward cockpit area. The right main landing gear was down and locked in position.

The empennage components exhibited minimal impact damage. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer and was unremarkable. The stabilator and anti-servo tab remained attached and were unremarkable. The rudder and stabilator control cables were traced to the forward cockpit area.

The fuel selectors were found positioned on their respective main fuel tanks. Both electric fuel pumps functioned when electrical power was applied. Fuel was drained from both fuel filter assemblies. The forward (left engine) fuel filter was free of particulate and water contamination. The rear (right engine) fuel filter contained several drops of water contamination and its filter element was dirty.

The left engine remained attached to the airframe by only cables and wiring. Internal engine and valve train continuity was confirmed as the engine crankshaft was rotated. Compression and suction were noted on all cylinders in conjunction with crankshaft rotation. All cylinders were inspected with a lighted boroscope, and no discrepancies were noted. The upper spark plugs were removed, and their electrodes exhibited normal wear. Both magnetos were in place and undamaged with all ignition leads intact to their respective caps. Both magnetos provided spark in conjunction with crankshaft rotation. The engine-driven fuel pump discharged fuel in conjunction with crankshaft rotation. The fuel servo remained attached to the engine, but its air box had significant impact damage. Fuel was collected from the fuel line leading from the fuel servo to the flow divider. The flow divider had the smell of fuel after its cap was removed. The left propeller remained attached to the engine. One blade exhibited blade twist, chordwise scratches, and trailing edge damage. The other blade had a gentle aft bend with some chordwise scratching at its tip.

The right engine remained attached to the airframe mounts and nacelle. Internal engine and valve train continuity was confirmed as the engine crankshaft was rotated. Compression and suction were noted on all cylinders in conjunction with crankshaft rotation. All cylinders were inspected with a lighted boroscope, and no discrepancies were noted. The upper spark plugs were removed, and their electrodes exhibited normal wear. Both magnetos were in place with all ignition leads intact to their respective caps. Both magnetos provided spark in conjunction with crankshaft rotation. The engine-driven fuel pump discharged fuel in conjunction with crankshaft rotation. The fuel servo was separated from the engine and its air box had significant impact damage. Fuel was collected from the fuel line leading from the fuel servo to the flow divider. The right propeller remained attached to the engine. Both blades exhibited aft bending, blade twist, and chordwise scratches. One blade had leading edge damage.

The on-scene investigation did not reveal any preimpact anomalies that would have prevented the normal operation of the airplane or its associated systems.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on July 19, 2005, by Southwest Missouri Forensics, Nixa, Missouri.

Toxicology samples for the pilot were submitted to the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology results indicated chlorpheniramine was detected in liver and brain samples. Methamphetamine and amphetamine were detected in brain and lung samples. Blood was not tested and as a result the levels of the Chlorpheniramine, Methamphetamine, and amphetamine were not reported.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The aircraft empty weight was 2,495.9 lbs. The airplane reportedly had about 84 gallons of fuel on-board prior to departure. The fuel was distributed between the two main tanks (54 gallons) and two tip tanks (30 gallons). The auxiliary tanks reportedly contained a negligible amount of fuel. The pilot weighed 211 lbs, the front seat passenger 260 lbs, the rear left passenger 225 lbs, and the rear right passenger 195 lbs. There was 11 lbs of baggage in the rear seats. The calculated takeoff weight was 3,901.90 lbs, with a center-of-gravity of 88.58 inches aft of datum. The accident airplane had a certified maximum gross weight of 3,725 lbs.

The 1965 Piper PA-30, Twin Comanche, flight manual states that takeoffs can be made with 0 to 15 degrees of flaps extended. The PA-30 owner's handbook performance charts assume takeoffs are made with 15-degrees of flaps extended. The flaps were found fully retracted at the accident site. The performance charts allow for a maximum takeoff weight of 3,600 lbs. The accident airplane had supplemental type certificated (STC) wingtip fuel tanks that increased the maximum gross weight to 3,725 lbs. The STC documentation did not include amended performance charts. The take-off ground run and takeoff distance over a 50-foot obstacle was calculated to be 1,350 feet and 2,400 feet, respectively. The airplane departed from runway 18 which was 3,002 feet long.

ADDITIONAL DATA/INFORMATION

The surviving passenger reported that the purpose of the flight was for business reasons. The passenger did not know the pilot prior to the morning of the accident. The passenger stated that his business partners had flown in the accident airplane with the pilot on other occasions. The passenger reported that one of the other passengers had paid the pilot and the owner of the airplane for the previous flights. The passenger stated that he did not know if any payment had been made for the accident flight.

The wreckage was released on July 20, 2005, to the owner of the accident airplane.

Parties to the investigation included the Federal Aviation Administration, Piper Aircraft, and Lycoming Engines.

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