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N289DT accident description

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Tail numberN289DT
Accident dateNovember 02, 2007
Aircraft typeDaniel R. Lloyd Trish's Ride Home
LocationGreenville, PA
Near 41.457778 N, -80.373611 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 2, 2007, at 0832 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Vans RV-10, N289DT, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Greenville, Pennsylvania. The private pilot/builder was fatally injured. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight that departed Greenville Municipal Airport (4G1), Greenville, Pennsylvania. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91.

According to a family member, the pilot had driven to the airport to practice "touch and go's" and to make sure everything was functioning properly, prior to a planned afternoon trip in the airplane with his family to Boston, Massachusetts.

Witness interviews were conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Safety Board, and while no one saw the airplane depart 4G1, the airplane was observed by a witness at approximately 0800 traveling in a northwesterly direction at low altitude, moving "fast" and sounding like it was "running strong like a Ford Mustang (turbocharged) Cobra that the witness once owned." At approximately 0825, the airplane was again observed; this time by multiple witnesses. Descriptions varied between witness statements as to the altitude, direction of flight, and velocity of the airplane; however, the preponderance of witness statements were that the airplane was flying north on the east side of Pennsylvania State Route 58, and seemed to make a circle to the left at approximately 500 feet above ground level (agl). It was next observed to travel in a westerly direction, fly across Route 58 and make another turn to the left with the engine "revving up and down" and losing altitude. When it reached approximately 50-feet agl, heading east, the airplane rolled wings level and impacted a cornfield and a fireball erupted.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate, with a rating for airplane single engine land. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on March 14, 2006. According to his pilot logbook, he had accrued 221.4 total hours of flight experience.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The experimental amateur-built airplane, was a four place, low wing monoplane. It was equipped with a non-certificated Eggenfellner E6T/220, water cooled, fuel injected, turbo-charged, 220 horsepower, six cylinder engine. The airplane's special airworthiness certificate was issued on July 10, 2007.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A weather observation taken about 23 minutes after the accident at Port Meadville Airport (GKJ), Meadville, Pennsylvania, located about 14 nautical miles northeast of the accident site, recorded the winds as 090 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky clear, temperature 1 degree Celsius, dew point -2 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.36 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Examination of the accident site by an FAA inspector revealed that a post impact fire had ensued. The airplane had come to rest inverted on route 58. Further examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane had impacted in a 35 to 60 degree nose down attitude. An approximately 100-foot debris path extended from the point of impact in the cornfield to the shoulder of Route 58.

The left wing was bent aft at the root with evidence of aft bending along the length of the wing panel. The right wing exhibited compression damage in an aft direction from the wingtip inboard, for approximately one third of its length. The empennage was intact but was partially separated from the fuselage just aft of the rear window location, lying forward of the left wing tip, and was found inverted from its normal mounting position.

The engine and firewall were separated from the fuselage and the majority of the hoses and belts had been consumed or were heavily fire damaged. Three of the four composite propeller blades were found at the initial impact point and one was found under the main wreckage.

Post recovery examination of the wreckage by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed no evidence of any preimpact failures of the airframe. The doors were closed and latched during the impact sequence, the structure had experienced heavy impact damage and tumbling, and the upper and lower baggage bulkheads were missing.

Engine Examination

Examination of the engine, and propeller speed reduction unit (PSRU), revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions. Both engine timing chains were intact, the crankshaft was rotated by hand, and drive train continuity was confirmed. The PSRU contained oil, and rotated freely. Compression was obtained on all cylinders. Oil was present throughout the lubrication system. The intake and exhaust systems were compromised and exhibited breaks in the tubing. The turbocharger waste gate was closed and the turbocharger could be rotated by hand. All of the sparkplugs were intact.

Propeller System Examination

The airplane was equipped with a 4-blade, in-flight adjustable, constant speed propeller. It consisted of an electric variable pitch hub manufactured by Quinti Avio, which was mated to the composite propeller blades manufactured by Sensenich.

Examination of the propeller hub and the remains of the propeller blades revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction. Further examination of the propeller assembly revealed that the four composite propeller blades were separated at the 4-inch blade radius station, which corresponded to the positions of the hub barrel clamps.

Examinations of the blade surfaces indicated that the blades were not in rotation at time of impact. The electric pitch control motor end bell and exterior nylon slide exhibited severe melting. The blade retention nuts were also found tightened approximately 1/4 inch tighter than the index marks scribed on the hub. This however, did not appear to affect the pitch rotation friction. Disassembly of the propeller hub revealed that the pitch motor gearbox was intact and immobile, (as designed) and held the last pitch angle selected when under no electrical load. Examination of the blade shank assemblies, bearings, and pitch slide assembly revealed no anomalies, and measurements of the propeller pitch setting corresponded to a high pitch (cruise) setting.

Examination of the propeller control

Examination of the propeller controller revealed that it was not the propeller controller that was manufactured by the propeller manufacturer. Instead, a manual electric pitch change system had been installed that consisted of a double pole panel mounted switch that could change the polarity to the electric hub motor. The motor could either run clockwise or counterclockwise from fine to coarse pitch. It was incapable of monitoring propeller rpm, and could not maintain the propeller at a constant speed by automatically varying blade pitch angle.

Fuel System Examination

Examination of the fuel system revealed that all fuel filler caps were closed and latched and the fuel selector valve was in the right fuel tank position.

Instrument Panel Examination

Examination of the instrument panel revealed that the airplane was equipped with a dual screen Chelton Flight Systems Electronic Flight Information System (EFIS), A Dynon Avionics D10A backup EFIS, Dual Garmin SL-30 navigation and communication radios, a Garmin 496 Global Positioning System (GPS), and a Grand Rapids Technologies Engine Information System (EIS) monitor.

Further examination revealed that the panel switches were positioned for flight. The "X-TIE" switch was in the off position, The "FUEL" switch was in the "ON" position, the "IGNITION" switch was in the "ON" position, the "FUEL SELECTOR" (electric fuel pumps) switch was in the "MAIN" position, and the "BUSS SELECTOR" switch was in the "ON/MAIN" position.

Flight Control System Examination

Examination of the flight control system revealed no evidence of any preimpact failures. Control continuity was established from the ailerons, elevator, and rudder, to the breaks in the system, which displayed evidence of tensile overload.

Further examination of the flight control system revealed that, the outboard ends of the ailerons had been filled with foam and then fiberglass had been used to seal in the foam. A trim tab for the rudder was discovered to be attached with duct tape. The lock nuts which were used on the rod ends for the pitch control system could be spun by hand and were not tightened against the rod ends, and were found on the threaded portion of the rods approximately 1/4 inch away from what would be their normal seated positions. The right trim tab rod on the elevator was connected to its rod end by two threads and was shorter than the trim tab rod for the left trim tab. It displayed evidence that the end of the trim tab rod at one time had broken off, and then had been re-inserted into the rod end, as the rest of the threaded portion was not present.

Electrical System Examination

The remains of the batteries and contactor relays were located in the center tunnel area of the cabin.

Examination of the remains of the electrical system revealed that the batteries and contactor relays had been exposed to the post impact fire.

Multiple wires showed no evidence of having being connected prior to impact. Examination of the cableing connected to the electrical system's contactor relays, revealed that a cable was not secured to its corresponding terminal on the contactor relay.

Further examination revealed that the terminal bore no evidence of dimpling or indentation and its interior surface was sooted.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Office of the County Coroner, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. The cause of death was attributed to multiple blunt trauma.

Toxicological testing of the pilot was conducted at the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The tests were positive for ibuprohen.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Global Positioning System Data

Information downloaded from the airplane's Global Positioning System (GPS)unit revealed that a tracklog for the accident flight had been recorded. Based on GPS groundspeed and altitude, the accident airplane took off from 4G1 at approximately 0812 edt. The airplane than manuevered in the area surrounding the airport. It landed at 4G1 at 0825 edt and departed again at 0827. It than climbed to an altitude of 2,400 feet GPS altitude, and reached a groundspeed of 152 knots before descending in a left hand spiral above Pennsylvania State Route 58. The final tracklog point was located just west of the roadway. The last recorded GPS groundspeed was 71 knots, the last reported heading was 118.7 degrees, and the last recorded GPS altitude was 1,366 feet.

Engine Builder Information

According to the engine builder, unlike "older engines" which used carburetors, magnetos, and mechanical fuel pumps, the engine required a constant and stable source of electricity to operate the fuel injection, fuel pumps, and engine control computer.

The pilot had installed a fuel filter on the upper pilot side of the firewall prior to the engine being installed. During the installation, the pilot discovered that the filter would not clear one of the diagonal engine mounting tubes, providing the main support for the nose wheel, and removed it. Rather than relocate the filter to another location, the fuel feed line, from the high-pressure fuel pumps, was run through a nylon grommet in the firewall. This penetration, as well as the fuel return line, was at the front of the center tunnel.

The battery and contactor relay location was on top of the high-pressure fuel pumps and next to where the fuel feed line and fuel return line came through the firewall.

Instrument Panel Builder Information

According to the instrument panel builder, The EFIS alarm levels had not been set up by the pilot for his specific engine installation and degradation of performance in the EIS had also occurred, as the pilot had not calibrated the "PR" (Pulses per revolution) for RPM, The "K Factor" (Scaling factor) for fuel flow, and The Fuel Level Calibration. This would have resulted in erroneous readings for rpm, fuel flow, fuel quantity, and multiple nuisance alarms.

Examination of Recovered Logbooks

During examination of the wreckage, the remains of the accident pilot's logbook and the airplane's maintenance logbook were recovered.

Examination of the pilot's logbook revealed no evidence of the training required by the FAA for operation of an airplane with an engine of more than 200 horsepower.

Examination of the airplane's maintenance logbook revealed that on July 10, 2007, the FAA issued a special airworthiness certificate allowing operation of the airplane.

Seven days later, on July 17, 2007, the pilot certified in the maintenance logbook that the prescribed 40 hours of test flying required by the FAA had been completed however, no record of separate entries for each of the test flights was discovered. The pilot also certified on that date that the airplane was controllable throughout its normal range of speeds and maneuvers, and that it had no hazardous characteristics or design flaws and that it was safe for operation. The pilot additionally certified that he had demonstrated by flight test, the operating data for the airplane and the weight and balance data.

No maintenance entries regarding removal or installation of equipment, or repair or alteration of the airplane or engine subsequent to the date of the issuance of the special airworthiness certificate were discovered.

FAA Airworthiness Records

A review of FAA airworthiness records revealed that the pilot was only authorized to operate the airplane for the first 40 hours within an area around 4G1, including a corridor to Harry Clever Field Airport (PHD), New Philadelphia, Ohio. During this 40 hours, he was to remain clear of densely populated areas and congested airways, and during the flight testing phase, no person should have been carried in the airplane during flight, unless that person was essential to the purpose of the flight.

Review of the FAA airworthiness records also revealed that the weight and balance data supplied to the FAA differed from the weight and balance information in the airplane's maintenance logbook. These differences included differing centers of gravity and a difference in empty weight.

Witness Statements and Interview Summaries

During the course of the investigation the Safety Board conducted a series of interviews, and reviewed witness statements, photographs, and emails. The following is a summary of the information obtained.

According to friends and other builders, the pilot was impatient with the time it was taking to do everything, and he was pushing to get the airplane assembled and flying in time for the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) convention at Wittman Regional Airport, (OSH) Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This resulted in the pilot doing such things as requesting the instrument panel builder to send the panel "as quickly as possible," and traveling to the engine builder's facility to pick up the engine instead of waiting for shipment.

On July 12, 2007, the airplane's first flight occurred with Clecos (temporary fasteners) holding the upper aft portion of the cowling in place and with a passenger onboard. Total duration of the flight was 40 minutes.

On July 13, 2007 the pilot emailed an RV builders group that he was a member of stating that, he had 39 hours and 20 minutes left to fly off, and that if he "followed the plan" he would "make it with a little to spare," and thought that he would complete the 40 hours of test flying and make it to OSH for the convention.

On that day, the pilot added approximately another 1.5 hours flight time towards the 40-hours but the engine experienced some high oil temperatures so the pilot decided to fly the airplane down to the engine builder's facility at Massey Ranch Airpark (X50), New Smyrna Beach, Florida

On July 14, 2007, the pilot and the engine builder departed 4G1 for X50.

On the trip to Fl

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