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N8034G accident description

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Tail numberN8034G
Accident dateMay 22, 2003
Aircraft typeCessna 177RG
LocationEly, NV
Near 40.076111 N, -114.587777 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 22, 2003, about 1455 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 177RG, N8034G, collided with terrain near Ely, Nevada. Yuma Flying Club was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The private pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The personal cross-country flight departed Yuma International Airport, Yuma, Arizona, about 1030 for Jackpot, Nevada, with a planned final destination of Grangeville, Idaho. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan had not been filed.

There were no witnesses to the accident sequence identified during the investigation.

During a telephone conversation with a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, a friend of the pilot and passenger, who is also an airplane mechanic, stated that he had talked to the pilot several days before the accident. The pilot and passenger were intending to make a long northbound cross-country flight, where on the way, they had tentatively planned to meet the friend at the Jackpot Airport. The friend further added that the passenger was not a pilot, nor did she have any experience inside the cockpit. He noted that she did know how to use the handheld global position system (GPS) unit that the pilot owned.

A member of the pilot's family reported to a Safety Board investigator that the pilot departed Yuma about 1030, and was planning to stop at Jackpot, where he would refuel the airplane. After making that stop, the flight was to continue onto Grangeville.

A member of the Yuma Flying Club stated that he had flown N8034G several days prior to the accident for the purpose of performing a demonstration flight for a potential new member. During the flight he noted that the airplane performed normally, and he did not observe any anomalies with the airframe or engine. After that flight, the airplane was taken to a maintenance facility for repairs due to another member's complaints that the right magneto was causing the engine to periodically run rough. The mechanic that examined the airplane told the flying club member that he found oil inside the magneto casing, and although he replaced the leads, the airplane would need a new magneto for optimal performance. The mechanic parked the airplane in its normal location, and placed a notice on the yoke stating that the airplane needed a new magneto to be in airworthy condition.

The member of the flying club further stated that he talked to the pilot several days prior to the accident. The pilot indicated that he was planning a long cross-country flight up to the northern United States, where he intended to vacation for about a week. He told the pilot that the magneto needed to be replaced, but it was ultimately his decision if he wanted to make the trip. The member added that the maintenance facility filled out a work order form for the maintenance performed after the accident occurred.

The Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) sent an impact damaged AvMap EKP-III C (model P1M0501GAM3), handheld GPS receiver that investigators found in the wreckage, to a manufacturer's representative for extraction of its non-volatile memory. The GPS track begins in a northerly direction along a straight path. After passing an intersection (where Interstate 93 branches to form the north-south stretching Interstate 93 and the northeast to southwest Interstate Alternate 93), the track makes a gradual right turn. This highway intersection is about 1 mile from the crash site.

The track proceeds across Interstate 93 and continues in the right turn, eventually heading in a southerly direction about 1/2 mile from the original track, paralleling Interstate 93 on the east side. Continuing south, the track passes over Alternate 93, and then proceeds in a left turn for about 180 degrees where it reaches a northerly heading. The track ensues on the northerly heading, and then makes more than a 360-degree turn, about 1/2 mile in diameter, to the right, where it subsequently starts on a northeasterly track that parallels Alternate 93. The track then makes a gradual turn to the right, perpendicular to Alternate 93. After crossing over Alternate 93, the track makes a gradual 90-degree right turn. It terminates in a southwesterly heading parallel to Alternate 93, less than 1/2 mile from the highway and about 2 miles east of the original straight northerly flight track.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. The most recent third-class medical certificate was issued to the pilot on April 24, 2003, and contained the limitation that the pilot must wear corrective lenses. On the pilot's application for a medical certificate, dated April 24, 2003, the pilot indicated that his total aeronautical experience consisted of about 355.5 hours, of which 68.4 were accrued in the previous 6 months.

A review of the airplane's flying club logbook, disclosed that on May 10, 2003, the pilot flew the airplane for 0.4 hours, which was his only flight entry for that month; in April 2003, he logged a total of 5.8 hours over five different flights. Despite several attempts, Safety Board investigators could not locate the pilot's personal logbooks.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a Cessna 177RG, serial number 177RG0034. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed that the engine, a Textron Lycoming IO-360-A1B6 (serial number L-7490-51A), had undergone an annual inspection on January 19, 2003, at a total time of 1,639.1 hours. A review of the airplane's flying club logbook disclosed that the pilot made an entry of the tachometer time for the airplane before departing, which read 1,751.8 hours. While at the accident site, investigators noted that the tachometer displayed 1,755.6 hours, which equates to a total trip time of 3.8 hours.

During the last examination on May, 21, 2003, a Sun-Western Flyers, Inc., mechanic, noted on a work order dated May 30, 2003, that the engine was running rough. Upon removal of the right magneto, he found a large amount of oil in the magneto casing, which he thought was the result of a leak past the seal in the drive end bearing. The work order stated that the airplane was not in airworthy condition due to excessive drop of rpm (revolutions per minute) and oil in the magneto casing.

According to Textron-Lycoming Operator's Manual for the IO-360-A series engine, the specific fuel consumption performance cruise charts for 75 percent power list a rate of 12.3 gallons per hour (gph), while the rate for economy cruise of 65 percent power is 9.5 gph. According to the Cessna Owner's Manual for the airplane, the fuel consumption listed in the Maximum Cruise Speed Performance chart states that best power at 7,000 feet is 10.8 gph. In the Cruise Performance section of the manual, which depicts engine performance for a normal lean mixture, in standard conditions with zero wind and at gross weight (2,800 pounds), it states that at 7,500 feet the engine will obtain 10.3 gph at 2,500 rpm (72 percent power) and 8.4 gph at 2,500 rpm (58 percent power). The manual states that the total fuel capacity for the airplane is 51 gallons, of which 1 gallon is unusable.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The GPS coordinates for the accident site were 40 degrees 4.565 minutes north latitude and 114 degrees 35.162 minutes west longitude. The airplane came to rest about 445 nautical miles north of Yuma, and about 48 nautical miles north of Ely; the cumulative mileage from Yuma to Jackpot is about 560 miles. The accident site was in open dessert terrain with a ground cover consisting of bushes extending 1 to 2 feet in height. Situated on level terrain, the airplane was in an upright attitude, resting on the left wingtip and oriented on a 285-degree magnetic bearing. The debris path stretched along a magnetic bearing of 265 degrees. A gravel road extending in a north-south direction was about 100 yards east of the main wreckage. Investigators determined that the first identified point of contact was a ground scar located about 55 feet east of the main wreckage.

All airframe components were with the main wreckage along with all flight control surfaces, which had remained attached to their respective hinges. The fuselage and cabin area were compromised, with the front doorposts bent outward. Investigators established control continuity with the exception of a cable that separated at the flap actuator. The flap actuator extension measured 4.15 inches, which the Cessna representative reported corresponded to the retracted position. The landing gear was in the retracted position.

Investigators found the fuel selector in the "ON" position. Both fuel tanks remained intact and investigators estimated that the left wing (which was oriented in a downward sloping angle) had about 2 inches of fluid remaining; no fluid was apparent in the right wing. Upon recovery, investigators estimated that they drained about 6 gallons of fuel from the left wing.

A two-blade McCauley propeller remained attached to the engine crankshaft flange. Both blades displayed leading edge gouging, chordwise striations across the cambered surface, trailing edge "S" bending, and are torsionally twisted toward the cambered side.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The White Pines County Coroner ruled the cause of death as blunt force trauma, and did not perform an autopsy. A review of the pilot's FAA medical certificate application dated about 1 month prior to the accident, disclosed that the pilot reported no previous medical conditions or use of medication. The Washoe County Forensic Science Division examined blood samples of the pilot. They detected no ethanol and less than 10-percent saturation of carbon monoxide.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Investigators established the engine's internal mechanical continuity during rotation of the crankshaft and upon attainment of thumb compression. The right and left magnetos were both timed at 25 degrees. The Lycoming representative stated that he found fluid consistent with the appearance and odor of aviation fuel at key locations about the engine during the examination of various fuel system components. Investigator's inspected both magnetos noting no mechanical malfunctions or failures.

Lycoming technicians conducted a detailed examination of the engine on November 18, 2003, at the facilities of Textron Lycoming, near Williamsport, Pennsylvania, under the supervision of a Safety Board investigator. Upon arrival at that facility, investigators installed a fixed-pitch test club on the front of the engine and secured it to a test stand, fitting it with oil lines, a fuel supply, and exhaust pipes. On the first attempt, they started the engine, and exercised it for 5 minutes at both 1,200 rpm and 1,800 rpm. Investigators noted that the engine initially was rough running, but as the rpm increased, the engine operation smoothed out. After increasing the engine to 2,200 rpm, investigators preformed a magneto check with no anomalies noted. Investigators ran the engine from idle (785 rpm) to full power with no anomalies found.

There was no evidence of premishap mechanical malfunctions observed during the examination of the engine and airframe.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The IIC released the wreckage to the owner's representative.

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