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N513FL accident description

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Tail numberN513FL
Accident dateNovember 09, 2000
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-140
LocationStuart, VA
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 9, 2000, about 1940 Eastern Standard Time, a Piper PA-28-140, N513FL, was destroyed after colliding with mountainous terrain near Stuart, Virginia. The certificated private pilot/owner was fatally injured. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that originated at College Park Airport (CGS), College Park, Maryland, about 1730, destined for Greenville, South Carolina. The airplane was reported as missing and an ALNOT was issued. The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) located the airplane on November 18, 2000, about 1530. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The accident occurred during the hours of darkness about 36 degrees and 40 minutes north latitude, and 80 degrees and 13 minutes west longitude.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical certificate was issued on June 6, 1999.

According to the pilot's wife, the pilot computerized his logbook after 1996, and she did not have access to his computer files. However, she did forward copies of his logbook, which ended on June 6, 1996. At that time, the pilot had accrued a total of 2,070 flight hours, of which about 2,046 hours were in make and model. The pilot had also accrued 300 hours of flying at night, and 47 hours of flight experience in actual instrument conditions.

The pilot was employed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He was a staff meteorologist and former air traffic controller.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

The airplane logbooks were not located. However, the pilot's wife reported that the airplane was on an annual inspection maintenance program. The last annual inspection was conducted in July 2000, and the transponder was replaced in September 2000.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The pilot requested weather information from DynCorp Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS) at 1329 and 1538, on November 9, 2000. The information he obtained at 1538 included surface weather observations, weather radar summaries, and terminal forecasts. The pilot did not request any in-flight weather advisories from DUATS, or during the accident flight.

Airman's Meteorological Information (AIRMET) advisories were issued on November 9, 2000, and were valid until November 10, 2000. The areas that were associated with the AIRMETs included Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The AIRMETs were issued for IFR conditions, icing, and mountain obscuration. Additionally, an AIRMET was issued for moderate turbulence below flight level 18,000.

Review of the surface observations for airports along the pilot's intended route of flight, indicated that instrument meteorological conditions prevailed.

Weather observations at Blue Ridge Airport (MTV), Martinsville, Virginia, about 11 miles east south-east of the accident site, at 1940, were reported as winds calm, visibility 4 nautical miles, clouds scattered at 1,100 feet; broken at 4,500 feet; and overcast at 4,900 feet, temperature 67 degrees F, dewpoint 65 degrees F, and altimeter setting 29.64 inHG. The field elevation for MTV was 941 feet.

COMMUNICATIONS

A survey of air traffic facilities revealed no communications between the pilot and air traffic control on the evening of the accident. Additionally, examination of radar data revealed that the airplane did not emit a transponder signal.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on November 20, 2000. Since the time of the accident about 1.5 inches of snow had fallen on the wreckage. The airplane came to rest upright on a steep slope in heavily wooded terrain, on a magnetic heading of about 210 degrees. The examination revealed that all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene.

The mountain's peak elevation of 3,211 feet mean sea level (MSL) was displayed on the Cincinnati aeronautical sectional chart. The airplane was located about 2,600 feet MSL.

Examination of the accident site indicated that initial tree impact scars started approximately 250 feet from the wreckage. The initial tree impact scars encompassed several trees, and appeared to be level along the tops of the trees. The width of the scars was about 30-feet and became progressively lower and narrower in the direction of the wreckage.

The fuselage area, including the instrument panel from the firewall back to the rear seats, was consumed by fire. A buckled seat belt was found in the area of the front seats. The seat belt's shoulder harness grommet was intact, but the shoulder harness attachment ring was not located with the buckled seat belt. Also found in the area of the fuselage, were two D-sized batteries, paper ashes, and instrument casings. Four individual seat frames were also identified.

The partial remains of a burned leather-bound Jeppesen manual was found in the area of the main wreckage. Instrument approach charts, folded aeronautical sectional charts, and an airport facility directory, were also found in the wreckage.

The right wing was separated into three sections. The inboard section of the right wing (step section) was attached at the wing root. Approximately 2-feet of the leading edge displayed impact damage and was displaced aft. The entire right flap was attached to the wing at its inboard hinge. About 2-feet from its attachment point, the flap was bent forward about 90 degrees and was resting on a tree.

A 4-1/2-foot middle section of the right wing was located near the airplane. It contained the ruptured right fuel tank and secured fuel cap. The right aileron bell crank was separated from its attachment points and found aft of the fuel tank. The right aileron cable was fractured and both of the fractured ends exhibited broom-like signatures. Control continuity was established from each of the fractured ends to the control column.

A 5-foot outboard section of the right wing was located about 30-feet from the main wreckage. The complete right aileron was found attached to the wing section at both hinges and the green navigational lens was intact.

The left wing was separated into two sections. An 8-1/2 foot section of the wing extended from the wing root outward to the pitot mast attachment point. The leading edge of the wing displayed fire damage and impact damage. The leading edge was displaced aft towards the main spar. The fuel tank cap was secured; however, the fuel tank was ruptured. The flap was attached to the wing at its middle attachment point and was deflected down.

The outboard section of the left wing was located underneath the airplane. The leading edge of the section exhibited impact damage. The entire left aileron was located with the wing section and remained attached at its outboard hinge. The left aileron bell crank was separated from its attachment points; however, control cable continuity was established from the bell crank to the control column.

The manual flap handle was intact and system continuity was established from the cockpit to the control surfaces.

The vertical stabilizer and rudder displayed virtually no damage. Slight impact damage was noted on the leading edge of the right side of the horizontal stabilizer. The entire trim tab was attached to the horizontal stabilizer and the trim setting was neutral. Rudder and horizontal stabilizer control cable continuity was established from the control surfaces to the control column.

The engine exhibited extensive fire and impact damage. The push rods appeared bent, and the crankshaft could not be rotated. The engine accessories could not be removed; however, the vacuum pump cover was removed and the vanes were found intact. The top spark plugs were removed and appeared light gray in color.

The propeller was found attached to the engine. One blade displayed s-bending and trailing edge gouging. The other blade was bent aft and exhibited chord wise scratching, front-face impact damage, trailing edge nicks and about 6 inches of the tip had separated from the blade. The tip was not located. The propeller spinner was severely crushed. Removal of the propeller revealed rotational gouging inside the propeller hub.

The engine was retained for further examination.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

On January 18, 2001, the engine was examined at the salvage facility under the supervision of the Safety Board. The examination revealed that the oil pump located in the accessory housing could not be rotated, and restricted movement of the crankshaft. The oil pump was removed and disassembled. Examination of the oil pump revealed that rust colored debris was found internally. However, examination of the pump gears and internal surfaces revealed there were no mechanical deficiencies.

Once the oil pump was removed, the crankshaft rotated freely and movement of the rear accessory housing was noted. Valve train continuity and compression were established on each cylinder.

Testing of the magnetos, ignition wiring, and carburetor could not be accomplished due the extensive impact and fire damage.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Western District, Roanoke, Virginia, performed an autopsy on the pilot on November 20, 2000.

The FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The airplane was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company on January 20, 2001.

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