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N8157J accident description

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Tail numberN8157J
Accident dateApril 19, 2004
Aircraft typeCirrus Design Corp. SR20
LocationGreenwood, SC
Near 34.247222 N, -82.176389 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 19, 2004, at 1400 Eastern Daylight Time, a Cirrus SR20, N8157J, registered to Attic Aircraft Leasing LLC, and operated by Aero Atlantic Flight Center, as a 14 CFR Part 91 business flight, collided with trees and ground after departing Greenwood Airport, Greenwood, South Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed and a post crash fire ensued. The private pilot and three passengers received fatal injuries. The flight originated from the Greenwood Airport on April 19, 2004, at 1400.

A private pilot stated he was on a cross-country flight from Dover A.F.B. to Eglin A.F.B. and he had stopped at Greenwood, South Carolina for fuel. He observed the accident airplane taxi out and depart from runway 27. The takeoff roll was long and the airplane lifted off the ground in "ground effect." The airplane remained about 10 to 15 feet above the runway and continued at that altitude all the way down to the end of the tree line off the departure end of the runway. "The aircraft suddenly pitched up at a steep angle to an altitude of about 300-400 feet. The aircraft then slowed and appeared to experience a departure stall rotating about 175-degrees on its vertical axis to the left. About half way down from the 175-degree rotation point he observed a slight pitch up of nose, and then aircraft entered a near vertical dive to the left. The aircraft went out of sight behind tree line, then he heard two consecutive loud bangs followed by fire ball, and black smoke a few seconds later."

An airframe and power plant mechanic located at the Greenwood Airport, stated he observed the accident airplane taxing to runway 27 with both doors open, and the flaps in the retracted position. The airplane taxied onto the active runway and departed without conducting an engine run-up.

Another witness stated he was playing golf at a local golf course located off the departure end of runway 27 at the Greenwood Airport. He heard the sound of an airplane engine sputtering; he looked in the direction of the sound and observed the airplane spinning to the ground in a nose down attitude to the left. The airplane made about two or three turns to the left before it collided with trees, ground, and burst into flames. He immediately telephoned the 911 emergency operator and reported the accident.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate on October 15, 2002, with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. The pilot held a third class medical certificate issued on September 18, 2002, with no restrictions. The pilot reported he had accumulated 500 total flight hours on the application for the third class medical certificate. The pilot attended Cirrus SR20 training at Aero Atlanta Flight Center from December 10, 2003, through January 8, 2004. The pilot received 5.5 hours of ground school and 6 hours of dual instruction. The pilot's last biennial flight review was on October 15, 2002. According to Aero Atlanta Flight Center, the pilot had between 50 to 100 hours in the SR20 airplane.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Review of the aircraft records revealed the last 100-hour inspection was conducted on March 30, 2004, at Hobbs time 280.1. According to the aircraft operator the airplane was last flown on April 18, 2004, and the Hobbs time at dispatch on the accident flight from Marietta, Georgia, was 318.5. The airplane was topped off with 42.9 gallons of 100 low lead fuel on April 19, 2004. No fuel was obtained at Greenwood, South Carolina. The Hobbs meter at the crash site was destroyed by fire.

The maximum gross weight of the SR20 for takeoff is 3,000 pounds. The pilot completed a weight and balance before departing on the flight from Marietta, Georgia, to Greenwood, South Carolina. The empty weight of the airplane was 2,145 pounds. The pilot indicated he had 350 pounds in the front seats, 150 pounds in the rear seat, and 56 gallons of fuel for a total ramp weight of 2,981 pounds. The pilot and three passengers departed Marietta, Georgia, with a computed ramp weight of 3,111 pounds. The pilot and three passengers departed Greenwood, South Carolina, with a computed ramp weight of 3,045 pounds.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Greenwood Airport, Greenwood, South Carolina, 1428 surface weather observation was wind 240-degrees at 10 knots, gusting to 21 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear, temperature 82-degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 48-degress Fahrenheit, and altimeter 30.30.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

The wreckage was located in a wooded area in a valley behind 213 and 215 Chatham Court, Greenwood, South Carolina. The airplane was 1,812 feet south southwest of Greenwood Airport, Greenwood, South Carolina.

Examination of the crash site revealed that the airplane, collided with two trees and the ground while descending. Forty-five degree "v" cuts were present on a tree 36 feet above the base of the tree. The airplane came to rest on a heading of 270-degrees magnetic, and was consumed by a post crash fire.

The engine mounts and engine assembly separated from the firewall and the engine assembly was displaced to the left. All four engine mounts were broken. The firewall was bent inward. The starter was crushed forward and the right magneto broke off and was not located. The number one alternator was burned and the support bracket was broken. The number two alternator was burned and separated from the engine assembly. The oil filter and a piece of the oil filter adapter were broken off. The oil cooler was crushed. The burned remnants of the upper and lower engine cowling separated from the fuselage and was located forward of the engine compartment. The nose gear separated from the engine mount assembly and was displaced aft and to the left. The propeller assembly separated from the crankshaft with the propeller flange attached to the propeller hub. The propeller spinner remained attached to the propeller hub and received impact damage. All three-propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub and exhibited, "s" bending, torsional twisting, and chord wise scarring. One propeller blade tip was separated 28-inches outboard of the propeller hub, and the propeller tip was located wedged in a tree.

The cabin area was consumed by fire extending aft to the baggage compartment. The left and right cabin doors separated and the cabin door pins were in the extended position. The fuel selector valve was in the left wing integral fuel tank position. Four seatbelt and shoulder harness buckles were separated from their attachments points. Three of the seatbelts and shoulder harnesses were in the locked position. The male end of the remaining seatbelt and shoulder harness assembly was located, but the female end was not recovered.

The right wing was attached to the fuselage at the spar tunnel. The remnants of the right wing were displaced aft. The upper and lower wing skins were consumed by fire. The right wing flap was consumed by fire. The flap jackscrew, which controls both flaps, revealed the flaps were in the up position. The inboard 7-inches and the outboard 21-inches of the right aileron received fire damage. The middle section of the aileron was consumed by fire. The right main landing gear and tire separated from the right wing and was damaged by fire. The fuel collector tank and integral tank were ruptured and consumed by fire.

Continuity of the aileron and roll trim system was confirmed from both control yoke assemblies to the forward pulley gang, both kick out pulleys, and both aileron actuation pulleys. Continuity of the elevator was confirmed from both control yoke assemblies to the forward pulley gang, aft pulley gang, and rudder/elevator pulley gang. Continuity of the rudder pedals was confirmed to the forward pulley gang, rudder/elevator pulley gang, and empennage pulley gang. The rudder push pull rod was attached to the rudder empennage bell crank.

The empennage separated aft of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) compartment. The empennage extending aft to the horizontal stabilizer was consumed by fire. The vertical stabilizer, horizontal stabilizer, and rudder separated from the fuselage and received fire damage. The horizontal stabilizer separated. The left and right elevator separated from the horizontal stabilizer and was damaged by fire.

The CAPS compartment cover separated from the fuselage. No impact marks were present on the striker plate. The left and right front attachment harnesses were consumed by fire. The igniter assembly received fire damage. The base of the rocket cone separated from the cone adapter. The igniter was fired. The CAPS activation cable was connected to the igniter actuator. The dual parachute risers were extended to the left and aft of the fuselage. Fifteen feet of the dual risers received fire damage. The parachute suspension lines were partially extended and separated by fire in three sections. The parachute canopy was folded and portions remained inside the deployment bag. The parachute canopy received fire damage. The slider assembly was in the factory-installed position. The rocket motor pick-up collar was damaged. The rocket motor incremental bridle was stripped. The rocket motor cylinder was not located. The pyrotechnic line cutters' firing pins were intact and separated from the parachute assembly.

The left wing was attached to the fuselage at the spar tunnel. The left wing was accelerated forward. The upper and lower wing skins were consumed by fire. The left aileron separated from the left wing and received fire damage. The left flap hinges separated from the left wing. The left outboard 40-inches of the flap received fire damage and the inboard section of the flap was consumed by fire. The left flap was in the up position. The left fuel collector tank and integral fuel tank were ruptured and sustained fire damage. The left main landing gear and tire separated from the left wing and was damaged by fire.

Examination of the engine revealed the left and right engine exhaust tubes were fire damaged, crushed, and broken. The induction tubing was partially melted. The air box and air filter were fire damaged. The throttle linkage was attached to the fuel control unit lever. The lever was bent and the butterfly was in the closed position. The top of the propeller governor was broken off and the housing was heat stressed. The crankshaft flange was broken off and 1-inch of the crankshaft was visible. The engine fuel pump received fire damage. The pump was removed, the drive was turned with a drill in a solvent tank, and solvent was emitted from the outlet fitting. The fuel manifold valve was removed and disassembled, and the fuel manifold valve housing had started to melt. The diaphragm was fire damaged, the fuel manifold valve screen was dry and unobstructed. The mixture linkage was attached to the mixture lever on the fuel pump and was positioned against the idle cutoff stop. The fuel pump was removed and the coupler was intact, and the drive was hard to turn. The fuel injection lines and injectors were intact and received fire damage. All top and bottom ignition leads were burned and broken. No holes were visible on the top of the left and right engine case halves. The No.6 forward top through-bolt top-nut on the right side of the engine case half was split. The left magneto was removed. The magneto drive was turned with a power drill and spark was observed at all ignition towers.

All top sparkplug "B" nuts were melted. All bottom "B" nuts received fire damage and the No.6 "B" nut was melted. The top and bottom spark plugs were removed and all electrodes were normal when compared to the Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug Chart. The No.3 and No.5 bottom sparkplugs were oil soaked. All cylinders received fire damage. The No. 2, 4, 5, and 6 cylinder rocker box covers were damaged. A compression and suction check was performed. Suction and compression was present on all cylinders except for No.1 and No.3. Valve and drive train continuity was observed on all cylinders except for the No.3 exhaust valve. The exhaust valve was stuck in the open position. Blow-by was observed on the No.1 cylinder intake port. The exhaust pushrod housings were bent on the No.4 and No.6 cylinders. The No.1 cylinder was removed and molten aluminum was present between the intake valve face and seat. The No.3 exhaust valve and valve springs were removed. Heat was exhibited in the valve stem area. The intake valve was removed. Molten aluminum was present in the valve port area. The crankshaft was turned by rotating the secondary alternator drive gear by hand. All fuel injectors were removed and the No.3 injector was bent. Seven quarts of oil was indicated on the dipstick, and the oil filter adapter was broken. The oil sump was removed and an after market blue colored oil pan quick drain plug was found in the oil pan.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

A Forensic Pathologist from Newberry Pathology Associates, Newberry, South Carolina, conducted a postmortem examination of the private pilot on April 20, 2004. The cause of death was "blunt head 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. Acetaminophen was detected in the blood and is an over-the-counter pain-reliever and fever-reducer, often known by the trade name Tylenol. Ephedrine was detected in the urine and is sold (as a component of “ephedra” or “Ma-Huang”) as a stimulant, weight loss product, or decongestant in many nutritional supplements and is an asthma medication. Pseudoephedrine was detected in the urine and is a common decongestant with a trade name Sudafed that is found in many over-the-counter cold and allergy preparations. Doxylamine was present in the urine and is a sedating over-the-counter antihistamine, often used in sleep aids such as Unisom. It is also commonly found in multi-symptom cold relievers such as Alka-Seltzer Plus Night-Time Cold Medicine and Vicks Nyquil Multi-Symptom Cold/Flu Relief. Dextromethorphan was detected in the blood and is an over-the-counter cough suppressant, available in a large number of preparations, including the multi-symptom cold relievers.

A Forensic Pathologist from Newberry Pathology Associates, Newberry, South Carolina, conducted a postmortem examination of the three male passengers on April 20, 2004. The cause of death was "blunt head trauma." No toxicology specimens were requested.

TEST AND RESEARCH

Review of the Pilot's Operating Handbook for the Cirrus Design SR20 states in Section 4, Normal Procedures, Before Takeoff, "7. Flaps 50 percent and check."

Review of the Pilot's Operating Handbook for the Cirrus SR20 states in Section 5, Performance Data, Figure 5-9, that at a pressure altitude of 1,000 feet with an outside temperature of 30-degrees Celsius the takeoff ground distance is 1,766 feet. The Greenwood Airport runway 27 is 5,003 feet in length.

Review of the Pilot's Operating Handbook for the Cirrus Design SR20 states in Section 5, Performance Data figure 5-7 that the airplane will stall at 65 knots with a 0-degree bank angle at 3,000 pounds with the most forward center of gravity. The airplane will stall at 64 knots with a 0-degree bank angle at 3,000 pounds with the most aft center of gravity.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to Atlanta Air Recovery, Griffin, Georgia, on May 19, 2004.

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