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N207JB accident description

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Tail numberN207JB
Accident dateJuly 05, 2009
Aircraft typeCessna 400
LocationHuntington, WV
Near 38.315 N, -82.528334 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On July 5, 2009, about 1256 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 400 (Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing LC41-550FG), N207JB, registered to and operated by an individual, crashed in a wooded area, in Huntington, West Virginia, during an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight from the Tri-State Airport (HTS), Huntington, West Virginia, to Kalamazoo / Battle Creek International Airport (AZO), Kalamazoo, Michigan. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an IFR flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The pilot and passenger were killed, and the airplane was destroyed. The flight departed HTS at 1254.

Information obtained from family members and local authorities reveal that the pilot was on a return IFR flight to AZO, the pilot’s home base. The pilot was in the HTS area visiting family members. The pilot filed an IFR flight plan the night before and obtained a weather briefing that morning of the accident at about 1041. The flight plan was filed for one person onboard. The decision to add a passenger was made later that morning.

An airport representative stated that the pilot called at 1100 to have the airplane pulled out of the hanger and fueled. The pilot requested to have a total of 10 gallons of Avgas added to the tanks; 5 gallons in each wing fuel tank. At 1210, the pilot arrived to the ramp, paid for the fuel and started his preflight inspection. The representative noted that the pilot’s preflight was about 25 minutes in duration. The airplane was started and taxied out of the area with no discrepancies observed.

The pilot received his IFR clearance and contacted the ground controller for taxi instructions to runway 12. The tower controller cleared the pilot for take off and to turn right for a heading of 210 degrees. A witness working near the departure end of runway 12 stated he heard and observed the airplane’s engine rev up before departing from runway 12. He “watched the plane ascend and noted no abnormal functions and watched him turn in the distant”. Once airborne, the pilot was then told by the tower controller to contact departure. The pilot contacted the departure controller and advised he was at 1,900 feet and climbing to 4,000 feet. The controller advised the pilot he had radar contact and asked the pilot what was his on course heading. The pilot responded 337 degrees. The departure controller asked the pilot if he was in a right turn and the pilot confirmed that he was. The departure controller instructed the pilot to continue the right turn to the on course heading and to maintain 5,000 feet. The pilot never acknowledged those instructions and the last radar contact indicated the airplane was at 2,300 feet mean sea level (msl), at 150 knots.

A witness sitting on the back porch of his residence heard what sounded like a single engine airplane flying low near his home. A few moments later, he heard a loud crash sound resembling metal hitting trees, immediately after, the sound of the flying airplane stopped. The witness heard no sound of engine failure or other obvious malfunctions prior to the cessation of engine noise. He traveled to the ridge top behind his home and did not see anything that represented a plane crash. He called 911 to report the occurrence. The HTS Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) immediately responded to the notifications and shortly there after located the wreckage 3.5 miles south of the airport.

Personnel Information

The pilot, age 54, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on March 19, 2009, with limitations of must wear corrective lenses. He had documented 575 total hours at that time. The pilot had documented in his pilot’s flight logbook a total of 642 flight hours as of June 28, 2009. Of those hours, 39 hours were in actual instrument flight and 118 hours were simulated instrument time. The pilot documented a total of 184 hours in the accident airplane.

Aircraft Information

The Cessna 400 (Columbia Aircraft Manufacturer LC41-550FG) was built in 2005 with serial number 41564. On June 7, 2006 the airplane was issued a standard airworthiness certificate and registered in the utility category. The airplane was maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance program. A review of the airplane’s maintenance records revealed the airplane had an annual inspection on the airframe, propeller, and engine on March 9, 2009, at which time the airplane had accumulated a total of 583 hours. The airplane had maintenance performed on June 9, 2009, when airworthiness directive 2009-9-9, dated 5/11/09, was complied with at which time the airplane had accumulated a total of 602 hours.

Meteorological Information

The closest official weather observation was at HTS, 3.5 miles north of the accident site. The HTS 1251, METAR was winds from 090 degrees at 4 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds overcast at 800 feet agl; temperature 19 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 18 degrees C; altimeter 29.87 inches of mercury.

Wreckage and Impact Information

The wreckage was located in a heavily wooded area on a hill ridge side, at an elevation of 850 feet (ft) MSL. The initial impact was with 50 ft tall trees. The second impact was with the ground at the top edge of the ridge. The airplane was in a left wing low and 50 degrees nose down pitch attitude during the impact sequence. The energy path of the wreckage was on an approximate course of 60 degrees along the descending ridge side. The debris field fanned outward from the initial tree impact point to 440 ft in distant by 75 ft in width. The cockpit, fuselage, wings, control surfaces were fragmented. The vertical stabilizer and rudder were recognizable. The engine, metal firewall, and propeller were crushed together and compacted with soil and wood. It was located 228 ft from the initial tree impact point behind a damaged tree truck from the impact. The propeller separated from the engine crankshaft. The three propeller blades were twisted from mid point toward the tips with nicks and gouges throughout the length. One of the blades was bent 90 degrees aft. Another blade was missing a tip section.

A post recovery examination of the wreckage established flight control continuity and all separations were consistent with overstress separation. All flight control surfaces were recovered. The right main landing gear strut, backup altimeter, and the left aileron control (balance) weight, were not located. The left aileron control weight attaching point damage was consistent with overstress separation. The flap actuator was observed in the full up position (retracted). The fuel selector valve was on the left fuel tank. The engine, propeller, and three avionic components from the Garmin 1000 system were retained by the National Transportation Safety Board for further examination.

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