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N2885D accident description

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Tail numberN2885D
Accident dateNovember 16, 2003
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-181
LocationWesterly, RI
Near 41.467223 N, -71.801944 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 16, 2003, at 1330 eastern standard time, a Cessna 180, N34AG, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain, after colliding in-flight with a Piper PA-28-181, N2885D. The Piper received minor damage during a hard landing after the collision. The collision occurred while the Cessna was taking off, and the Piper was landing, at the Westerly Airport (WST), Westerly, Rhode Island. Both certificated flight instructors aboard the Cessna were fatally injured, while the certificated private pilot and two passengers aboard the Piper were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for either airplane. The Cessna was a local instructional flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91, while the Piper was a personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91, which originated from the Windham Airport (IJD), Windham, Connecticut.

According to the pilot of the Piper, when he arrived in the Westerly Airport area, a landing attempt was made to runway 32; however, because he was too high on the approach, the pilot elected to abort the landing. The pilot remained in the left-hand traffic pattern for runway 32, and announced all of his positions during the traffic pattern on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF). Upon turning final approach to land the second time, the pilot observed a tail-wheeled airplane "about to get onto runway 32." The airplane remained on the displaced threshold portion of the runway, and the pilot thought it would remain there until after he landed. The pilot continued the approach, and soon after he passed over the runway threshold, he heard the sound of another airplane's engine, followed by an impact with the airplane. The pilot observed the other airplane descend towards the ground, as he performed a forced landing to the runway. The Piper touched down hard on the runway, collapsing the right main landing gear assembly. The airplane continued down the runway, and began to veer to the right, where it struck a taxiway light, before coming to rest upright on a taxiway.

The pilot added that trees obscured the threshold portion of the runway, and the taxiway leading to runway 32, as he flew a left hand traffic pattern.

The pilot did not recall observing the Cessna prior to the final approach leg of the second landing.

The pilot did not recall hearing the Cessna make any transmissions on the CTAF frequency, but did recall hearing other aircraft make transmissions.

A witness, who was walking to an airplane on the parking ramp at WST, observed two airplanes, a Cessna 180, and a Piper "extremely" close on runway 32. The Cessna was on the bottom, and the Piper was slightly behind and above the Cessna. It appeared the Cessna touched the Piper, which subsequently reduced power, descended, and made an "extremely" hard landing on the runway, before coming to rest. The Cessna, which was about 100 feet above the runway at full power, pitched up about 30-degrees after the collision, "got slow," and nosed over, before descending to the ground. The witness then ran to the Piper and recalled the pilot of the Piper state to another witness that "he saw the 180 pull out onto the runway."

A second witness, who was also walking to an airplane on the parking ramp at WST, observed the Cessna and Piper at the end on runway 32. They appeared to be airborne, about 100 feet above the ground, and that the Cessna was taking off, and the Piper landing. The two airplanes collided, and both immediately pitched upward. The Cessna then stalled, nosed over, and descended to the ground. The Piper also nosed over, and made a hard landing on the runway, where it came to rest.

A third witness observed the Cessna accelerating on runway 32 for takeoff at the same time a Piper was descending to land on the same runway. At one point, the Piper was directly over the Cessna, about 50 feet above the ground. The Cessna then lifted off the runway, and climbed in front of the Piper. The Cessna continued to climb above the Piper, began to bank left and right about 60-degrees, and yawed "drastically." The Piper descended, and impacted the runway on the right main landing gear. At that moment, the Cessna, under full power, pitched vertically to about 150 feet, spiraled its wings 90-degrees, and descended to the ground in a nose down attitude.

A fourth witness, who was flying an airplane in the left hand traffic pattern for runway 25 at Westerly, observed the Cessna on the displaced threshold portion of runway 32, but did not hear any radio transmissions coming from it. The witness recalled hearing the pilot of the Piper make radio transmissions on the CTAF, and announce when he was on downwind, base, and final. The witness also recalled that prior to arriving in the Westerly area, she heard an airplane transmit on the Westerly CTAF that they were conducting touch and go's on runway 32.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight, at 41 degrees, 20.58 minutes north longitude, 71 degrees, 48.12 minutes west latitude.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot of the Piper held a private pilot certificate with a rating for single-engine land airplanes. His most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was dated on May 7, 2001. According to the pilot, he had accumulated about 108 hours of total flight experience, with about 26 hours as pilot-in-command.

The pilot providing instruction in the Cessna held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multi-engine land and commercial privileges for airplane single-engine land and sea, and multi-engine sea. The pilot also held a flight instructor certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land, instrument airplane. His most recent application for a FAA first-class medical certificate was dated on May 22, 2003. The pilot reported on his application for the medical certificate that he had accumulated about 13,000 hours of total flight experience.

The pilot receiving instruction in the Cessna held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multi-engine land and commercial privileges for airplane single-engine land. The pilot also held a flight instructor certificate for airplane single engine land, instrument airplane. His most recent application for a FAA first-class medical certificate was dated on May February 6, 2002. The pilot reported on his application for the medical certificate that he had accumulated about 4,026 hours of total flight experience.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Review of the maintenance logbooks for both airplanes by FAA inspectors did not reveal any abnormalities.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The wind conditions at the Westerly Airport, about the time of the accident, were variable at 3 knots.

COMMUNICATIONS INFORMATION

Westerly was an uncontrolled airport without an operating air traffic control tower. The airport utilized a UNICOM frequency of 123.00 kHz for the CTAF.

Within a 75 nautical mile radius of Westerly, at least 7 other airports utilized the same UNICOM frequency.

AERODROME INFORMATION

Runway 32 at Westerly was a 3,960-foot long, 75-foot wide asphalt runway. Runway 32 also had a 750-foot long displaced threshold, and slightly rising terrain with 20-foot high hardwood trees at the approach end. The rising terrain and trees continued, and paralleled the taxiway that led to runway 32.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

Examination of the Cessna, which was painted brown, revealed a concave dent near the base of the vertical stabilizer. The vertical stabilizer was folded rearward, and to the left of the tail cone, which was held onto the fuselage only by the rear attach bolt. Blue paint transfer was observed on the right side of the vertical stabilizer.

Examination of the Piper revealed a concave dent, about 4 feet from the inboard end of the right wing aileron. Brown paint transfer was observed on the dent. Brown paint transfer was also observed on the underside of the right wing. The paint transfer extended from the damage to the aileron, forward to the leading edge, which was also dented and pushed upward.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Medical Examiners Office, Providence, Rhode Island, performed autopsies on both pilots of the Cessna, on October 17, 2003.

The FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicological testing on both pilot's of the Cessna.

TEST AND RESEARCH

The communications radio was removed from the Cessna and placed onto a test stand, and no abnormities were noted with the transmitting or receiving functions.

Both communications radios were tested in the Piper while remaining installed in airplane's instrument panel, and no abnormities were noted with the transmitting or receiving functions.

The Safety Board investigator noted that the trees which paralleled the taxiway leading up to runway 32, visually obscured aircraft flying left-hand traffic patterns for the runway. Traffic was not visible to an individual facing southeast until the traffic turned onto final approach.

A representative from the Rhode Island Airport Corporation flew a helicopter in the left-hand traffic pattern for runway 32 to photograph visual references as they pertained to the runway and taxiway. Review of the photographs revealed that as the helicopter was flown in the traffic pattern, at 1,000 feet agl, trees obscured the taxiway until turning onto the final leg. The photographs also revealed that trees obscured the taxiway when a 1-mile final approach leg was flown at an altitude below 500 feet

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to the Aeronautical Information Manual, paragraph 4-1-9, Traffic Advisory Practices at Airports Without Operating Control Towers:

"There is no substitute for alertness while in the vicinity of an airport. It is essential that pilots be alert and look for other traffic and exchange traffic information when approaching or departing an airport without an operating control tower. This is of particular importance since other aircraft may not have communication capability or, in some cases, pilots may not communicate their presence or intentions when operating into or out of such airports. To achieve the greatest degree of safety, it is essential that all radio-equipped aircraft transmit/receive on a common frequency identified for the purpose of airport advisories...An airport may have a full or part-time tower or FSS located on the airport, a full or part-time UNICOM station or no aeronautical station at all. There are three ways for pilots to communicate their intention and obtain airport/traffic information when operating at an airport that does not have an operating tower: by communicating with an FSS, a UNICOM operator, or by making a self-announce broadcast...Pilots of inbound traffic should monitor and communicate as appropriate on the designated CTAF from 10 miles to landing. Pilots of departing aircraft should monitor/communicate on the appropriate frequency from start-up, during taxi, and until 10 miles from the airport unless the CFRs or local procedures require otherwise."

According to Federal Aviation Regulations Part 91.113, Right-of-way rules:

"(b) General. When weather conditions permit, regardless of whether an operation is conducted under instrument flight rules or visual flight rules, vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft. When a rule of this section gives another aircraft the right-of-way, the pilot shall give way to that aircraft and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear...(g) Landing. Aircraft, while on final approach to land or while landing, have the right-of-way over other aircraft in flight or operating on the surface, except that they shall not take advantage of this rule to force an aircraft off the runway surface which has already landed and is attempting to make way for an aircraft on final approach. When two or more aircraft are approaching an airport for the purpose of landing, the aircraft at the lower altitude has the right-of-way, but it shall not take advantage of this rule to cut in front of another which is on final approach to land or to overtake that aircraft."

According to the Aeronautical Information Manual, paragraph 2-3-3, Runway Markings, "A displaced threshold is a threshold located at a point on the runway other than the designated beginning of the runway. Displacement of a threshold reduces the length of runway available for landings. The portion of runway behind a displaced threshold is available for takeoffs in either direction and landings from the opposite direction. A ten feet wide white threshold bar is located across the width of the runway at the displaced threshold."

Wreckage Release

The airplane wreckage of both airplanes was released on November 17, 2003.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 16, 2003, at 1330 eastern standard time, a Cessna 180, N34AG, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain, after colliding in-flight with a Piper PA-28-181, N2885D. The Piper received minor damage during a hard landing after the collision. The collision occurred while the Cessna was taking off, and the Piper was landing, at the Westerly Airport (WST), Westerly, Rhode Island. Both certificated flight instructors aboard the Cessna were fatally injured, while the certificated private pilot and two passengers aboard the Piper were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for either airplane. The Cessna was a local instructional flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91, while the Piper was a personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91, which originated from the Windham Airport (IJD), Windham, Connecticut.

According to the pilot of the Piper, when he arrived in the Westerly Airport area, a landing attempt was made to runway 32; however, because he was too high on the approach, the pilot elected to abort the landing. The pilot remained in the left-hand traffic pattern for runway 32, and announced all of his positions during the traffic pattern on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF). Upon turning final approach to land the second time, the pilot observed a tail-wheeled airplane "about to get onto runway 32." The airplane remained on the displaced threshold portion of the runway, and the pilot thought it would remain there until after he landed. The pilot continued the approach, and soon after he passed over the runway threshold, he heard the sound of another airplane's engine, followed by an impact with the airplane. The pilot observed the other airplane descend towards the ground, as he performed a forced landing to the runway. The Piper touched down hard on the runway, collapsing the right main landing gear assembly. The airplane continued down the runway, and began to veer to the right, where it struck a taxiway light, before coming to rest upright on a taxiway.

The pilot added that trees obscured the threshold portion of the runway, and the taxiway leading to runway 32, as he flew a left hand traffic pattern.

The pilot did not recall observing the Cessna prior to the final approach leg of the second landing.

The pilot did not recall hearing the Cessna make any transmissions on the CTAF frequency, but did recall hearing other aircraft make transmissions.

A witness, who was walking to an airplane on the parking ramp at WST, observed two airplanes, a Cessna 180, and a Piper "extremely" close on runway 32. The Cessna was on the bottom, and the Piper was slightly behind and above the Cessna. It appeared the Cessna touched the Piper, which subsequently reduced power, descended, and made an "extremely" hard landing on the runway, before coming to rest. The Cessna, which was about 100 feet above the runway at full power, pitched up about 30-degrees after the collision, "got slow," and nosed over, before descending to the ground. The witness then ran to the Piper and recalled the pilot of the Piper state to another witness that "he saw the 180 pull out onto the runway."

A second witness, who was also walking to an airplane on the parking ramp at WST, observed the Cessna and Piper at the end on runway 32. They appeared to be airborne, about 100 feet above the ground, and that the Cessna was taking off, and the Piper landing. The two airplanes collided, and both immediately pitched upward. The Cessna then stalled, nosed over, and descended to the ground. The Piper also nosed over, and made a hard landing on the runway, where it came to rest.

A third witness observed the Cessna accelerating on runway 32 for takeoff at the same time a Piper was descending to land on the same runway. At one point, the Piper was directly over the Cessna, about 50 feet above the ground. The Cessna then lifted off the runway, and climbed in front of the Piper. The Cessna continued to climb above the Piper, began to bank left and right about 60-degrees, and yawed "drastically." The Piper descended, and impacted the runway on the right main landing gear. At that moment, the Cessna, under full power, pitched vertically to about 150 feet, spiraled its wings 90-degrees, and descended to the ground in a nose down attitude.

A fourth witness, who was flying an airplane in the left hand traffic pattern for runway 25 at Westerly, observed the Cessna on the displaced threshold portion of runway 32, but did not hear any radio transmissions coming from it. The witness recalled hearing the pilot of the Piper make radio transmissions on the CTAF, and announce when he was on downwind, base, and final. The witness also recalled that prior to arriving in the Westerly area, she heard an airplane transmit on the Westerly CTAF that they were conducting touch and go's on runway 32.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight, at 41 degrees, 20.58 minutes north longitude, 71 degrees, 48.12 minutes west latitude.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot of the Piper held a private pilot certificate with a rating for single-engine land airplanes. His most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was dated on May 7, 2001. According to the pilot, he had accumulated about 108 hours of total flight experience, with about 26 hours as pilot-in-command.

The pilot providing instruction in the Cessna held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multi-engine land and commercial privileges for airplane single-engine land and sea, and multi-engine sea. The pilot also held a flight instructor certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land, instrument airplane. His most recent application for a FAA first-class medical certificate was dated on May 22, 2003. The pilot reported on his application for the medical certificate that he had accumulated about 13,000 hours of total flight experience.

The pilot receiving instruction in the Cessna held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multi-engine land and commercial privileges for airplane single-engine land. The pilot also held a flight instructor certificate for airplane single engine land, instrument airplane. His most recent application for a FAA first-class medical certificate was dated on May February 6, 2002. The pilot reported on his application for the medical certificate that he had accumulated about 4,026 hours of total flight experience.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Review of the maintenance logbooks for both airplanes by FAA inspectors did not reveal any abnormalities.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The wind conditions at the Westerly Airport, about the time of the accident, were variable at 3 knots.

COMMUNICATIONS INFORMATION

Westerly was an uncontrolled airport without an operating air traffic control tower. The airport utilized a UNICOM frequency of 123.00 kHz for the CTAF.

Within a 75 nautical mile radius of Westerly, at least 7 other airports utilized the same UNICOM frequency.

AERODROME INFORMATION

Runway 32 at Westerly was a 3,960-foot long, 75-foot wide asphalt runway. Runway 32 also had a 750-foot long displaced threshold, and slightly rising terrain with 20-foot high hardwood trees at the approach end. The rising terrain and trees continued, and paralleled the taxiway that led to runway 32.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

Examination of the Cessna, which was painted brown, revealed a concave dent near the base of the vertical stabilizer. The vertical stabilizer was folded rearward, and to the left of the tail cone, which was held onto the fuselage only by the rear attach bolt. Blue paint transfer was observed on the right side of the vertical stabilizer.

Examination of the Piper revealed a concave dent, about 4 feet from the inboard end of the right wing aileron. Brown paint transfer was observed on the dent. Brown paint transfer was also observed on the underside of the right wing. The paint transfer extended from the damage to the aileron, forward to the leading edge, which was also dented and pushed upward.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Medical Examiners Office, Providence, Rhode Island, performed autopsies on both pilots of the Cessna, on October 17, 2003.

The FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicological testing on both pilot's of the Cessna.

TEST AND RESEARCH

The communications radio was removed from the Cessna and placed onto a test stand, and no abnormities were noted with the transmitting or receiving functions.

Both communications radios were tested in the Piper while remaining installed in airplane's instrument panel, and no abnormities were noted with the transmitting or receiving functions.

The Safety Board investigator noted that the trees which paralleled the taxiway leading up to runway 32, visually obscured aircraft flying left-hand traffic patterns for the runway. Traffic was not visible to an individual facing southeast until the traffic turned onto final approach.

A representative from the Rhode Island Airport Corporation flew a helicopter in the left-hand traffic pattern for runway 32 to photograph visual references as they pertained to the runway and taxiway. Review of the photographs revealed that as the helicopter was flown in the traffic pattern, at 1,000 feet agl, trees obscured the taxiway until turning onto the final leg. The photographs also revealed that trees obscured the taxiway when a 1-mile final approach leg was flown at an altitude below 500 feet

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to the Aeronautical Information Manual, paragraph 4-1-9, Traffic Advisory Practices at Airports Without Operating Control Towers:

"There is no substitute for alertness while in the vicinity of an airport. It is essential that pilots be alert and look for other traffic and exchange traffic information when approaching or departing an airport without an operating control tower. This is of particular importance since other aircraft may not have communication capability or, in some cases, pilots may not communicate their presence or intentions when operating into or out of such airports. To achieve the greatest degree of safety, it is essential that all radio-equipped aircraft transmit/receive on a common frequency identified for the purpose of airport advisories...An airport may have a full or part-time tower or FSS located on the airport, a full or part-time UNICOM station or no aeronautical station at all. There are three ways for pilots to communicate their intention and obtain airport/traffic information when operating at an airport that does not have an operating tower: by communicating with an FSS, a UNICOM operator, or by making a self-announce broadcast...Pilots of inbound traffic should monitor and communicate as appropriate on the designated CTAF from 10 miles to landing. Pilots of departing aircraft should monitor/communicate on the appropriate frequency from start-up, during taxi, and until 10 miles from the airport unless the CFRs or local procedures require otherwise."

According to Federal Aviation Regulations Part 91.113, Right-of-way rules:

"(b) General. When weather conditions permit, regardless of whether an operation is conducted under instrument flight rules or visual flight rules, vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft. When a rule of this section gives another aircraft the right-of-way, the pilot shall give way to that aircraft and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear...(g) Landing. Aircraft, while on final approach to land or while landing, have the right-of-way over other aircraft in flight or operating on the surface, except that they shall not take advantage of this rule to force an aircraft off the runway surface which has already landed and is attempting to make way for an aircraft on final approach. When two or more aircraft are approaching an airport for the purpose of landing, the aircraft at the lower altitude has the right-of-way, but it shall not take advantage of this rule to cut in front of another which is on final approach to land or to overtake that aircraft."

According to the Aeronautical Information Manual, paragraph 2-3-3, Runway Markings, "A displaced threshold is a threshold located at a point on the runway other than the designated beginning of the runway. Displacement of a threshold reduces the length of runway available for landings. The portion of runway behind a displaced threshold is available for takeoffs in either direction and landings from the opposite direction. A ten feet wide white threshold bar is located across the width of the runway at the displaced threshold."

Wreckage Release

The airplane wreckage of both airplanes was released on November 17, 2003.

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