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N6085U accident description

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Tail numberN6085U
Accident dateApril 24, 2003
Aircraft typeAviat Pitts S-2B
LocationNewport, PA
Near 40.516945 N, -77.116667 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 24, 2003, about 1435 eastern daylight time, an Aviat Pitts S-2B, N6085U, was substantially damage when it impacted terrain near Newport, Pennsylvania. The certificated airline transport pilot and the certificated commercial pilot were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the instructional flight that departed the Capitol City Airport (HGR), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. No flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a family member of the flight instructor, the intention of the flight was for the pilot to receive aerobatic flight instruction.

Review of air traffic control records revealed that the airplane departed HGR about 1413.

A witness, who was fishing in a creek located about 1,200 feet from the accident site, recalled hearing the airplane's engine revving and cutting out, typically as he would hear if aerobatics were being performed. After about 15 minutes of hearing the airplane, the witnesses attention was drawn to the airplane when he heard the engine rev, then begin to sputter. He looked up, and observed the airplane in a "flat spin." The airplane made three or four rotations, before descending below a tree line. The witness additionally stated that the engine continued to sputter until the airplane impacted the ground. The witness could not positively determine the height at which he first observed the airplane.

A second witness, who resided near the accident site, recalled hearing an airplane about the time of the accident. The airplane was so close it shook the house. The engine was "roaring," and it did not hesitate or sputter as it passed by. About 5 seconds after the airplane passed by, the witness heard the engine become silent, then "restart," followed by silence again. The witness did not visually observe the airplane.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight. The wreckage was located 40 degrees, 31.01 minutes north latitude, 077 degrees, 07.00 minutes west longitude, at an elevation of 620 feet.

PILOT INFORMATION

The CFI held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for multi-engine land. He also held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single-engine land airplanes and rotorcraft. The pilot was also a certified flight instructor in single-engine and multi-engine land airplanes, and rotorcraft. The CFI reported a total flight experience of 3,425 hours on his most recent application for a FAA second-class medical certificate, dated March 7, 2003.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single engine and multi-engine land airplanes. The pilot was also instrument rated. The pilot reported a total flight experience of 601 hours on his most recent application for a FAA second-class medical certificate, dated March 2, 2002.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Review of the airplane's maintenance logbooks did not reveal any abnormalities.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane came to rest in an open wheat field on a magnetic heading of 330 degrees, and approximately 5 degrees nose down, with no associated debris path observed. The impact crater, which contained the engine and propeller assembly, was approximately 1-foot deep. One of the propeller blades was bent aft, and the other was undamaged. Neither of the propeller blades displayed chordwise scratching. The main wreckage was confined to the dimensions of the airplane, and all the structure and flight controls were present.

The wreckage was examined on April 25, 2003. During the examination, flight control continuity was established from the control surfaces to the cockpit area. Engine control continuity was not established because of damage to the cockpit areas and instrument panels.

All four wings were impact damaged, and the main landing gear assemblies were collapsed. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers, along with their control surfaces, were not damaged.

The cockpit canopy was located about 80 feet to the left of the main wreckage. The canopy open release was tested, and the locks disengaged. The right side of the canopy would slide but impact damage prevented the left side from traveling more than 1 inch.

The flight instructor and pilot had been wearing a parachute and a restraint system; however, the pilot's parachute was deployed, and lying in the cockpit area.

No baggage or ballast was observed in the wreckage.

The wreckage was recovered and transported to a facility in Clayton, Delaware, where the engine was examined on April 30, 2003.

The top and bottom spark plugs were removed and examined. The electrodes were intact, and appeared light gray in color.

The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand through the propeller governor adapter, and camshaft and crankshaft continuity was confirmed. Thumb compression was obtained and valve train continuity was confirmed on all cylinders.

The right magneto was separated from the engine by impact forces. The left magneto remained attached to the engine crankcase and was removed for examination. A rotational force was applied to the drive gears of both magnetos, and spark was obtained on all of the ignition towers.

Oil was present throughout the engine, and no metal contamination was observed in the remaining oil or oil screen.

Internal examination of each cylinder was conducted using a lighted borescope. Each cylinder displayed no abnormalities to the valves, top surfaces of each piston, or the cylinder walls.

The fuel manifold was intact, and all six fuel nozzles were securely attached to each cylinder. The injector nozzles were then removed and inspected, and no damage or blockage was observed. The fuel manifold cover was removed, and the rubber diaphragm, valve, and spring were intact. Fuel was also observed in the manifold.

The engine driven fuel pump and fuel servo sustained impact damage, and could not be tested.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the CFI and pilot, on April 25, 2003, by the Perry County Medical Examiners Office, Greenwood Township, Pennsylvania.

The FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma conducted toxicological testing on the CFI.

TEST AND RESEARCH

Weight and Balance

On the CFI's most recent application for a FAA second-class medical certificate, he reported his body weight as 234 pounds. On the pilot's most recent application for a FAA second-class medical certificate, he reported his body weight as 190 pounds.

Both the CFI and pilot were donning parachutes, which each weighed about 15 pounds.

The airplane had a total fuel capacity of 29 gallons (24 gallons in the main tank located at Fuselage Station (FS) 81.32, and 5 gallons in the auxiliary tank located at FS 81.75). The auxiliary tank was to remain empty for operations in the aerobatic category.

The maximum certified weight for the airplane in the normal category was 1,700 pounds. The maximum certified weight in the aerobatic category was 1,625 pounds.

The airplane had a standard empty weight of 1,201.6 pounds, and a center of gravity of 80.8 inches.

The airplane had a length of 216.69 inches, and the center of gravity limit envelopes for both categories were as follows:

Normal Category: Forward: FS 86.35 inches at 1,475 pounds or less, with a straight-line variation to FS 88.5 inches at 1,700 pounds. Aft: FS 90.2 inches at 1,700 pounds or less.

Aerobatic Category: Forward: FS 86.35 inches at 1,475 pounds or less, with a straight-line variation to FS 89.58 inches at 1,625 pounds. Aft: FS 90.2 inches at 1,625 pounds or less.

Three weight and balance calculations for the accident flight were calculated during the investigation. The calculations included the occupant's weights, their parachutes, and fuel quantities of 0, 14, and 24 gallons of fuel. All calculation results exceeded the maximum gross weight and C.G. limits for operations in the aerobatic category. The C.G. range was exceeded beyond the aft limit by 1.1 inches to 1.9 inches.

According to the Pitts S-2B Airplane Flight Manual, "If the C.G. lies outside the envelope, then the baggage and fuel must be adjusted to bring the C.G. inside the envelope. In extreme cases, where the pilot and chute weight exceeds 200 lbs (90.6 kg) or is less than 150 lbs (67.95 kg), it may be necessary to ballast the airplane to bring the C.G. within the approved limits."

According to the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook, "With each airplane that is approved for spinning, the weight and balance requirements are important for safe performance and recovery from the spin maneuver. Pilots must be aware that just minor weight or balance changes can affect the airplane's spin recovery characteristics. Such changes can either alter or enhance the spin maneuver and/or recovery characteristics. For example, if the addition of weight in the aft baggage compartment, or additional fuel, may still permit the airplane to be operated within CG, it could seriously affect the spin and recovery characteristics."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to 14 CFR Part 91.303, Aerobatic flight, "No person may operate an aircraft in aerobatic flight...Below an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface."

Wreckage Release

The airplane wreckage was released on October 8, 2000, to a representative of the owners insurance company.

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