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N6390C accident description

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Tail numberN6390C
Accident dateApril 08, 1995
Aircraft typePiper PA-34-200T
LocationCovington, TN
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 8, 1995, at 1630 central daylight time, a Piper PA-34-200T, N6390C, was destroyed after it broke up in flight near Covington, Tennessee. The commercial pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The aircraft was operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the time, and no flight plan was filed for the local, personal flight. The flight originated in Arlington, Tennessee, about 1620.

The flight was cleared to climb under VFR (visual flight rules) at the pilot's discretion. Recovered radar data indicates that the aircraft climbed to about 7,600 feet mean sea level (msl), on a northeasterly heading, followed by a rapid descent. During the time period of 1628:46 to 1629:09, the aircraft descended from 7,200 feet msl to 5,400 feet msl. During this period, recorded ground speed varied between 179 and 208 knots. At 1629:23, an altitude of 2,500 feet was observed, with a corresponding ground speed of 50 knots. The final radar return was at 1630:32, where the radar indicates "coast" mode (no altitude return available), and a ground speed of 61 knots.

Several witnesses reported that they heard increased engine noise, or "revving", followed by a loud, booming noise. One witness stated that he observed the right wing fold back against the fuselage. Another witness reported that he saw the right wing come off, followed by the aircraft "coming down like a helicopter." Another witness stated that he heard the airplane "spit and sputter", followed by the sound of one of the engines revving up high. There were several witnesses who reported that there was no smoke or fire coming from the airplane at any time, while in flight.

A certificated flight instructor (CFI) assisted the accident pilot with washing N6390C prior to the accident flight. He reported the following: he was an acquaintance of the pilot during the last six to eight months. While washing the airplane, the accident pilot's sister and brother-in-law drove up in their car. After they had finished washing the aircraft, the accident pilot stated that he wanted to "dry the airplane off." This was not unusual; the accident pilot typically flew the aircraft immediately after washing it because it was an excuse for flying. These flights usually lasted about 20 to 30 minutes. The accident pilot mentioned that this was probably his last flight in this airplane, as he had been hired as a pilot for Atlantic Southeast Airlines. The accident pilot stated that, shortly before the accident flight, he was going to "roll the airplane." He stated this more than once. The accident pilot had mentioned to him on a previous occasion that he had rolled an airplane before, but he believed it to be a single engine Piper airplane, not a PA-34.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Information on the pilot is located at the section titled "First Pilot Information."

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Information on the aircraft is included in this report at the section titled "Aircraft Information."

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Visual meteorological conditions existed at the time of the accident. Additional information is located at the section titled "Weather Information."

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The aircraft wreckage was located in a rural area, about 16 miles northeast of the Arlington Municipal Airport. The wreckage was distributed on a magnetic heading of 020 degrees; the wreckage path was about 1.8 miles in length. The coordinates of the recovered aircraft debris were recorded by using a hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver. A wreckage diagram with associated coordinates is included as an attachment to this report.

The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, partial sections of the empennage, and the inboard half of the left wing with the left engine still attached. There was a large area of burned grass surrounding the wreckage. The main wreckage was found inverted and there were no ground scars or impact marks leading to its location. There was extensive fire damage to all areas of the main wreckage. The positions of the nose and left, main landing gear could not be confirmed due to fire and impact damage. The gear actuators were broken away from their respective mounts. The manual flap control handle, mounted on the floorboard between the pilot seats, was found in the "flaps up" position. The position of the flap torque tube was found in a position indicative of 25 degrees flaps down. The cockpit instrument panel and engine control quadrant exhibited crushing signatures; reliable engine control positions could not be obtained due to impact damage.

The left horizontal stabilator main spar and outboard, forward structure were not recovered; however, eight inches of the inboard main spar remained integral to the stabilator attach bracket. A 34.5 inch section of the aft, outboard stabilator was located; the outboard tip was separated and fractured 13 inches from the forward end. The counterweight assembly was not recovered at the accident site, however, the stabilator rib, integral to the counterweight attachment, exhibited an overload fracture. The left inboard spar was bent downward and aft; it exhibited an overload fracture. Sixteen inches of the left stabilator inboard leading edge was located with the top rivet sheared. The aluminum was torn four inches from the inboard edge, adjacent to the rivets, which remained attached to the spar. The left stabilator trim tab was separated into two sections.

The inboard 14 inches of the right horizontal stabilator was bent upward and aft, and exhibited transfer marks consistent with the color scheme of the lower portion of the vertical stabilizer. The right horizontal stabilator main and rear spars were twisted 90 degrees, counter clockwise, when viewed from the outboard end.

The horizontal stabilator attach brackets and mating aft bulkhead were examined. The left bracket was fractured in overload at the hinge bolt. The corresponding bearing and attach bolt were found in the mating attach bracket integral to the aft bulkhead. The right attach bracket was found bent to the right (as viewed looking forward) with the bulkhead mounting structure attached. The aft bulkhead was separated from the empennage and fractured around the circumference. The counterweight and control tube were fractured from the main spar with compression to the spar on the right side.

The vertical stabilizer was found in a plowed field, about 6/10 mile north-northeast of the main wreckage. This section was free of soot or fire damage.

The outboard section of the left wing was located about 3/10 miles north-northeast of the main wreckage, in an area of unburned grass. This section was about ten feet in length, and had separated along the mid-wing skin rivet row. There was no evidence of fire or heat dame to this section. The lower spar exhibited a compression overload fracture and was twisted down, and rearward, 14 inches inboard of the fracture. The upper spar was fractured 44 inches outboard on the carry through section of the main spar, and exhibited an overload tension fracture.

The inboard section of the right wing, with engine attached, was found inverted, about 166 feet south-southwest of the main wreckage. There was light fire damage to this section, which was surrounded by an area of burned grass. The inboard section upper main spar was fractured two inches outboard of the carry through portion of the main spar, and exhibited overload fractures in the down, and aft direction. The lower spar was fractured five inches outboard of the carry through portion of the main spar and exhibited a tensile overload fracture.

The outboard section of the right wing was located about 1/8 mile north-northeast of the main wreckage. This section was found inverted, with extensive fire damage to the area associated with the fuel cell. The upper and lower spars of the outboard wing section exhibited overload fractures in the down direction, however, 5 inches outboard of the upper spar fracture, the spar was bent in the upward, and aft direction.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Post mortem examination of the pilot was performed by Dr. J. T. Francisco, M.D., Medical Examiner, University of Tennessee, Memphis. The report noted multiple lacerations and fractures. Toxicological testing for drugs and alcohol was negative.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The engines were shipped to the Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) facility in Mobile, Alabama for examination. For additional details, refer to the TCM Analytical Inspection Report, included as an attachment to this report.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to:

H. Joe Kothe (Owner's Representative) American Claim Service, Inc. 5368 Flowering Peach Drive Memphis, Tennessee 38115.

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