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N210CT accident description

Arkansas map... Arkansas list
Crash location 36.271945°N, 93.156111°W
Nearest city Harrison, AR
36.229794°N, 93.107676°W
4.0 miles away
Tail number N210CT
Accident date 04 Dec 2002
Aircraft type Cessna 210L
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On December 4, 2002, at 1747 central standard time, a single-engine Cessna 210L airplane, N210CT, operating as Flight Express 714 (FLX 714), was destroyed following an in-flight breakup during initial climb after takeoff from runway 36 at Boone County Airport (HRO), near Harrison, Arkansas. The instrument-rated commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant of the airplane, was fatally injured. The airplane was owned and operated by Flight Express, Inc., of Orlando, Florida. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed and dark night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 cargo flight. The 60-nautical mile flight's intended destination was the Springfield-Branson Regional Airport (SGF), near Springfield, Missouri.

According to company records, the airplane arrived at Harrison approximately 1732 on a daily scheduled flight to pick up cargo (cancelled checks and other banking documents). The flight was reported to be running behind schedule due to inclement weather, as it had been scheduled to arrive at 1630. The operator reported that Flight Express, as well as the bank being serviced, track all their flights through a contract with Flight Watch, which is a computerized monitoring software program. A bank employee watched the accident airplane on Flight Watch. He observed the airplane make a departure to the North, and then a few minutes later, make a right turn back toward the airport. According to the operator, the airplane initially departed from St. Louis, Missouri (home base), made an intermediate stop at the Springdale Airport where some cargo was picked up, and then an intermediate stop at Harrison. After Harrison, the airplane was scheduled for an intermediate stop at Springfield, Missouri, and then return to St. Louis, Missouri, to remain overnight.

A witness, who worked at the airport, asked the pilot if he needed fuel, and the pilot said, "no." The witness then observed the pilot load and secure three bags of cargo. The witness recalled that there were four or five bags of cargo already in the airplane. The witness stated, "I do remember that he did go in and check the weather on the computer before he left. I did not see him do a preflight, and he departed the lobby a minute or two before 1740. I did hear the engine run and it appeared normal. I did not suspect a problem." The witness further stated that there was light snow, but no rain, when the pilot took off. He reported that the ceiling was broken at 1,300 to 1,400 feet, and he could not recall the temperature.

Another witness, who was an instrument-rated commercial pilot and resided about a mile east of the airport, reported that his wife observed the airplane depart the airport, and he only heard the sound of the airplane on climb out. The witness stated that the engine sounded like it was developing full power and he could tell that the airplane was climbing. He added that the engine "sounded great" until the pitch of the engine appeared to overspeed followed by two "long scraping sounds." The witness then called Flight Service Station to report what he heard. The witness added that "very light and dry snow" was falling at the time of the accident.

According to information provided by air traffic control (ATC), the pilot obtained an IFR clearance from HRO to SGF. His instructions were to proceed direct to SGF and to climb and maintain 4,000 feet, with transponder code "one seven one seven". The flight departed from runway 36, and was reported airborne at 1746, and no further communications were received from the flight.

The main wreckage was found in a residential area, about 2.53 nautical miles (2.91 statute) from the departure end of runway 36 at HRO (northeast of the airport).


The pilot was employed by Flight Express since January, 2001. He held an FAA commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single-engine, multi-engine, and instrument airplane. According to company records at the time of hire, the pilot reported 1,620 hours of total flight time, of which 61 hours were at night, and 276 hours were in instrument conditions. At the time of the accident, the operator estimated that the pilot had accumulated a total of 3,456 hours, of which 1,700 hours were flown in the Cessna 210 aircraft. The pilot was based at St. Louis, Missouri, which was one of 5 maintenance bases utilized by the operator. The pilot's most recent FAA medical examination was completed on August 17, 2002, and was issued a first-class medical certificate without any waivers or limitations.

According to flight time summaries provided by the operator, the pilot typically flew an average of 4.5 hours per day, 5 days a week. His typical duty day went from 0530 when he reported to work, to about 1900 when he was released from work. The pilot completed the required 7.5 hours of flight training as part of his initial training on February 9, 2001. All of the flight time was completed in the Cessna 210 aircraft. His most recent Part 135-required IFR and PIC check-ride was successfully completed on August 24, 2002.


The standard category airplane was manufactured by Cessna Aircraft in Wichita, Kansas, in 1974, and assigned serial number 210-60356. The airplane was reported to have been registered to the current owner on December 21, 1998. The operator reported that the airplane had accumulated a total of 6,245 hours. The last inspection performed was an 100-hour (propeller/engine) inspection, which was completed on November 12, 2002, at 5,689.9 hours. The most recent annual inspection was completed on June 24, 2002, at 5,391.4 hours.

The airplane was powered by a 310-horsepower Continental IO-550-P3B engine, serial number 821031-R. The engine was remanufactured at the Continental Factory at Mobile, AL, on May 03, 2002, and installed on the airframe on November 12, 2002, at 5,689.1 hours (1,149.5 hours tach.). According to the maintenance records, the engine, which has a 2,000-hour TBO, had accumulated a total of 45.3 hours at the time of the accident. A 3-bladed Hartzell Propeller, model PHC-J3YF-1RF, part number FP1335B, was installed on June 12, 2001, following its last overhaul on April 23, 2001. The propeller blades were equipped with an electrical anti-icing system, which was reported to be operational at the time of the accident.

The airplane was equipped for day, night, and instrument operations. The airplane was equipped with the proper de-ice and anti-icing systems for the flight, including an approved full-span leading edge anti-icing system known as the TKS ice protection system (ethylene glycol weep system), which was installed on November 13, 1998. The airplane was also equipped with a standby vacuum system and a standby alternator system. The certified maximum gross weight for the airplane was 3,800 pounds. The operator reported that the airplane had a useful load of about 1,000 pounds. The actual empty weight of the airplane is not known. A portable (bathroom-type) scale was found with the wreckage.

A review of the maintenance records for the airplane by the FAA inspector and the NTSB Investigator-in-Charge did not reveal overdue maintenance inspections or discrepancies. All time change components (engine, propeller, and propeller governor) were found well within limits.

The operator reported that Flight Express operates a nationwide fleet of about 100 aircraft, with an estimated annual flying program of 72,000 hours. The accident airplane was one of 64 Cessna 210's that his company operates, with the balance of his fleet being an assorted models of Beech airplanes. Maintenance for their fleet is provided in five locations: St.Louis, MO; Orlando, FL; Cincinatti, OH; Nashville, TN; and Tampa, FL..


At 1753 (16 minutes after the accident), the automated weather observing system at HRO reported winds from 350 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 2.5 statute miles in light snow and mist (BR), few clouds at 800 feet, a broken ceiling at 1,800 feet, an overcast sky at 2,700 feet, temperature 27 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 30.14 inches of Mercury.

There were no reports of convective activity within 200-mile radius of the airport. According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, sunset occurred at 1658, and the end of civil twilight occurred at 1726.

Using a field elevation of 1,365 feet, a barometric pressure setting of 30.14, and a temperature of 27 degrees Fahrenheit, the Investigator-in-Charge estimated the pressure altitude at 1,163 feet and the density altitude at minus 651 feet.


There were 5 published instrument approaches to the HRO airport. The approaches were: ILS/DME RWY 36 approach; NDB RWY 18 approach; NDB-B approach; VOR-A approach; and a GPS RWY 18 approach. The published instrument departure procedures for runway 36 at HRO are as follows: Eastbound on V-140, climb on course. All others, climb on runway heading to 1,800 feet, then climbing left turn direct HRO VOR/DME, then via assigned route.

The HRO VOR/DME, which is located 4.4 nautical miles northwest of the airport (316 degrees), was out of service at the time of the accident. The pilot was aware of this condition, as he discussed his departure procedures with ATC after obtaining his IFR clearance for the flight. He was instructed to fly direct to SGF (approximately 350 degrees) following departure from runway 36.


The wreckage of the airplane was found fragmented along the ground for approximately 2,534 feet on a linear path centered on a northerly heading (009-degree magnetic). The main wreckage, which consisted of the engine, with the 3-bladed propeller still attached, the main fuselage (cockpit and cabin), the tail cone, the vertical stabilizer and rudder, were found at the farthest point from the airport. The main wreckage came to rest in the backyard of a house in a residential area north of the airport, on a westerly heading. The GPS location of the main wreckage was latitude 36 degrees 16.663 minutes North and longitude 93 degrees 06.142 minutes West.

The first airplane component found at the beginning of the wreckage debris path (closest to the airport) was the left elevator assembly, which was found at GPS location latitude 36 degrees 16.245 minutes North and longitude 093 degrees 06.208 West. The distance from the left elevator to the main wreckage was approximately 2,218 feet.

Fragments of windshield Plexiglas were also found near the beginning of the wreckage debris path. None of the fragments located had paint transfers or evidence of a collision with a bird or object. The glass appeared to be in very good condition as it had been recently installed. No fragments of windshield Plexiglas were found inside the cockpit area of the airplane. The Plexiglas for the left cabin window was missing. The Plexiglas for the right cabin window was still in place and was undamaged.

The next major component found along the wreckage path was the right cabin door, followed by the right horizontal stabilizer. The right horizontal assembly sustained severe leading edge damage near the attachment point to the empennage. The right elevator was found in 3 pieces: separated at the counter weight, the trim tab, and the main body. The control rod for the trim tab actuator was found bent and in the fully extended position (screwed out). The counter weight from the left elevator was found in a residential side yard, in close proximity to the left wing, and the counter weight from the right elevator was found in the same vicinity a few days later, after the snow melted. The counter weight for the right elevator was not found.

The left wing had minimal leading edge damage and was found with its flap aileron attached. The right wing assembly was found approximately 300 feet before the main wreckage with its flap and aileron attached. The leading edge of the right wing had severe close to the root. Both wing flaps and flap actuators were found in the fully retracted position. The tail section of the airplane had moderate damage on both sides of the vertical stabilizer. Some transfers found on the right side of the vertical stabilizers were consistent with the titanium leading edge strips from the wing anti-icing strips.

The sequence of in-flight failure and separation could not be determined at the accident site. The fractures on both wings exhibited overload signatures, with similar separations outboard of the main spar attachment fittings. All fractures appeared to be the result of overstress. All separations in the flight control system were found to exhibit overload features. Both control columns and the pilot's control wheel sustained minimal damage, while the right yoke was broken off on the co-pilot's control wheel. Both wing fuel cells (integral tanks) were found breached and no fuel was found in either wing, however, there was a strong smell of aviation fuel in the vicinity of each wing. No evidence was found of hydraulic deformation to any portion of the leading edges of either fuel cell. The fuel selector was found near the left tank position. The landing gear selector was found in the down (extended) position, and the landing gears were found in the retracted position.

The engine was found partially attached to the airframe. Both magnetos, starter, and alternator were found separated from their mounts. The oil cap was found pushed out of its seat and the top portion of the fiberglass engine cowling was resting on top of the engine. The propeller hub remained attached to the engine flange, and there was no evidence of oil leaks. Engine control continuity was established to the throttle, propeller control, and mixture control. The throttle, propeller control, and mixture control were found in the full increase/full open position. The chromed propeller spinner did not show evidence of rotational scoring or damage. All three propeller blades were found in a high-pitch position. Blade number one was bent 180-degrees toward the cambered side, with leading edge gouges near the tip. Blade number two was separated near the shank with leading edge gouges near the tip. Blade number three was wrinkled along its full length.

Most of the engine and flight instruments were found readable. The directional gyro indicated 242 degrees, and the heading bug was set at 015 degrees. The course deviation indicator (CDI) for the number one very-high omni-directional range (VOR) navigational aid indicated 350 degrees. The CDI for the number two VOR indicated 350 degrees. The altimeter indicated an altitude of 7,500 feet, and the Kollsman window was found at a barometric pressure setting of 30.14 inches of Mercury. The vertical speed indicator (VSI) indicated a 1,300 feet per minute (fpm) rate of climb. The airspeed indicator indicated "0" knots. The strobe light switch was broken. The control lever for the standby vacuum system was in the closed position.


An autopsy was requested and performed by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory at Little Rock, Arkansas, on December 9, 2002. The cause of death was listed as "multiple injuries sustained in an aircraft accident." Toxicological tests were performed by the Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, ethanol, cyanide, and drugs.


The top forward portion of the fuselage was compressed into the cockpit and cabin area. The entire cabin airframe was twisted or collapsed to its left side. The airplane was equipped with shoulder harnesses for the two front seat occupants of the airplane; however, only the pilot seat (left side) was installed at the time of the accident. The pilot seat was separated from the seat rails and was found lying on its side.

The seat belt and shoulder harness were found to be unlatched during the accident sequence. Additionally, the left cabin door was found partially unlatched. The pilot was ejected from the airplane and

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain control of the aircraft and the exceedance of the manufactured limits, which resulted in an in flight break-up. Contributing factors were the dark night conditions and the clouds.

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