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N578TP accident description

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Tail numberN578TP
Accident dateJune 08, 2003
Aircraft typePiper PA-44-180
LocationBattleboro, NC
Near 36.001944 N, -77.683611 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 8, 2003, at 1340 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-44-180, N578TP, registered to and operated by Airline Transport Professionals Corp. of USA, collided with the ground during an instructional flight near Battleboro, North Carolina. The instructional flight was operated under the provision of Title 14 CFR Part 91 and visual flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The certified flight instructor, commercial rated pilot receiving instruction, and commercial rated passenger were fatally injured. The flight departed Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), Raleigh Durham, North Carolina, on June 8, 2003, at 1255.

The instructional flight departed RDU on an instrument flight to Rocky Mount, North Carolina. The purpose of the instructional flight was to add-on muti-engine, instrument onto the dual students certified flight instructor rating. At 1315, the instrument flight plan was cancelled and the flight continued under visual flight rules. Examination of recovered radar data shows the airplane conducting maneuvers at altitudes between 4,200 and 4,700 feet above ground level (AGL). Shortly before the accident the airplane began a slow descent from 4,400 to 4,000 feet AGL. The last radar recording was at 3,100 feet at 1336. At approximately 1340, an eyewitness heard the airplane-flying overhead and then heard the engine sound stop. They looked up and saw the airplane spinning towards the ground. The witness did not recall hearing the engines running during the final descent. No radio communication was received from the pilot prior to the accident.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The certified flight instructor was issued a commercial pilot certificate on March 25, 2002 with airplane single engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane ratings. The certified flight instructor was issued his flight instructor rating on May 28, 2002. His total flight time was approximately 500 hours, and he had flown approximately 100 flight hours in the last 90 days, and 275 hours in the PA-44-180. The certified flight instructor held a first-class medical certificate dated January 07, 2002, valid when wearing corrective lenses.

The commercial rated duel student receiving instruction was issued a commercial pilot certificate on July 30, 2002 with airplane single engine land and sea, multiengine land and instrument airplane rating. Her total flight time was approximately 1800 hours. Her approximate multiengine time was 10 hours. The commercial pilot held a first-class medical certificate dated March 26, 2001, with no restrictions or waivers.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Review of airplane logbooks for the PA-44-180 revealed the last type of inspection conducted was a 100-hour on May 21, 2003. The total recorded airframe hours at the time of the accident were 4429. The total time since inspection was 18 hours. The altimeter system, static pressure system, and transponder were inspected on May 20, 2002.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The nearest weather reporting facility at the time of the accident was Raleigh Durham International Airport. The 1351 surface observation reported: Visual meteorological condition, 2,000 feet scattered, 4,300 feet broken, visibility 10 statue miles, temperature 27-degrees Celsius, dew point 24-degrees Celsius, wind direction 220-degrees at 9 knots.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Examination of the wreckage site revealed the airplane wreckage was located approximately 8 miles from the Tarboro-Edgecombe Airport, Tara, North Carolina. The airplane came to rest in an open field approximately 30 feet adjacent of a local road. The airplane was found in an upright position with all flight control surfaces still attached to the airframe. The cockpit canopy was separated from the lower section of the fuselage and displaced to the right. The instrument panel was displaced forward and was damaged. The cockpit section of the airplane was damaged, and buckled. The rear fuselage was buckled and still intact with the forward section of the airplane. The vertical and horizontal stabilizers were attached to the fuselage and resting on the right horizontal stabilizer. Flight control cables for the stabilator and rudder surfaces were traced to cockpit flight controls. The nose section of the airframe was also displaced upward. The main landing gear was found in the retracted position. The fuel selector valves and levers in the cockpit were found in the off position. Fuel was found in the fuel gascolator, electric fuel pumps and fuel lines under the floorboard. The fuel selectors were field tested by applying low-pressure air through the portholes and were operational in all positions. The electric fuel pump filters, and gascolator screens were free of obstruction. The electric fuel pumps were field tested by applying battery power and using water in the inlet port. Both fuel pumps operated and pumped water out of the outlet.

Examination of the left wing revealed it sustained leading edge crush damage, and approximately four feet of the outboard section of the wing assembly was displaced upward, and sustained span-wise buckling. The left wing aileron was attached to its attachments and was damaged. The right aileron cables were traced to the cockpit flight controls. The left flap was attached and was found in the retracted position. The left fuel tank was breached.

Examination of the right wing revealed it sustained span-wise buckling, and approximately four feet of the outboard section of the wing assembly was displaced forward. The right wing aft attachment was separated at the wing root. The fuel lines were breached at the wing root and the fuel tanks were damaged. The right aileron cables were traced to the cockpit flight controls, and the aileron was damaged. The flap was separated at the outboard hinge and bent aft.

Examination of the left and right engines revealed both remained attached to the airframe with the propellers attached and partially buried in the ground. Both engines were heavily damaged on the underside, and the accessory sections were also damaged. The left engine was accessed and the engine crankshaft was rotated by hand. Continuity of the crankshaft, camshaft, valve train, and accessory drives of the engine was established. Each cylinder produced compression when the crankshaft was rotated. No anomalies were noted during the examination. The right engine was accessed and the engine crankshaft was rotated by hand. Continuity of the crankshaft, camshaft, valve train, and accessory drives of the engine was established. Each cylinder produced compression when the crankshaft was rotated. No anomalies were noted during the examination.

Examination of both propellers revealed they had had slight aft bending and rotational scoring. Further examination revealed that both propellers were not in the feather position. Both propeller governors were tested, and operated. No anomalies with the airplane were noted during the post-crash examination.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina performed the pathological diagnoses of the certified flight instructor on June 8, 2003. The reported cause of death was blunt force trauma. The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide and ethanol in the blood.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina performed the pathological diagnoses of the commercial pilot on June 8, 2003. The reported cause of death was blunt force trauma. The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide and ethanol in the blood. 0.017 (ug/ml, ug/g) Chlorpheniramine was detected in the blood, and Chlorpheniramine was also detected in the liver. 2.308 (ug/ml, ug/g) Acetaminophen was detected in the blood.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage of N578TP was released to an insurance adjuster with United States Aviation Underwriters Inc., on June 15, 2004.

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