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N333LP accident description

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Crash location 33.791944°N, 116.587777°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Palm Springs, CA
33.830296°N, 116.545292°W
3.6 miles away

Tail number N333LP
Accident date 15 May 2005
Aircraft type Cessna 182M
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On May 15, 2005, about 1000 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 182M, N333LP, collided with terrain near Palm Springs, California. The owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. Both occupants held private pilot certificates and sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed. The cross-country personal flight departed Palm Springs about 0953, with a planned destination of Orange County/John Wayne Airport (SNA), Santa Ana, California. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The approximate global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the primary wreckage were 33 degrees 47.52 minutes north latitude and 116 degrees 35.26 minutes west longitude.

Family members became concerned when they did not hear from one of the pilots, and they alerted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Riverside Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) issued an alert notice (ALNOT) at 1500.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) reviewed a transcript of recorded radio transmissions between the pilot and the Palm Springs air traffic control tower. The pilot indicated to the ground controller that he would fly direct to the Paradise VOR at 8,500 feet and then direct to John Wayne Airport. The ground controller provided him a discreet transponder code of 0454. At 0953:38, the pilot acknowledged his takeoff clearance, and departed from runway 31L. At 0954:27, the controller instructed him to fly a heading of 280 degrees to provide clearance for a jet departure behind him. The pilot acknowledged the heading, and a few seconds later requested a left downwind departure. After several exchanges of conversation, the controller cleared him for a southbound departure to Anza and then John Wayne. At 0955:56, the controller instructed him to contact departure on 126.7. The pilot informed departure at 0956:21 that he was at 1,800 feet, and climbing to 8,500 feet. They informed him that they had radar contact, and instructed him to resume his own navigation.

A Safety Board specialist plotted recorded radar data, and added pertinent data. The plot began at 1950:54 as the target proceeded toward the runway. The target appeared over the runway, and the altitude increased with each progressive target. The target turned west, and then south to approximately 190 degrees. The target passed the western end of East Palm Canyon Drive, and turned to the west up Tahquitz Canyon. At 0957:37, it appeared to track about 280 degrees at a mode C reported altitude of 2,700 feet msl at a computed groundspeed of 95 knots. The last radar return occurred at 0958:14. At this point the target was turning left at a mode C altitude of 3,100 feet. The computed groundspeed was 92 knots, and this was 0.7 miles north of the accident site. Over the last 2.5 minutes of the recorded radar data, the airplane climbed from a mode C reported altitude of 1,900 feet to 3,000 feet.

The airframe manufacturer provided additional plots of the radar data. The track generally followed Tahquitz Creek. They computed an average climb rate from takeoff of 743 feet per minute,


A review of FAA airman records revealed that the first pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land. He had a third-class medical certificate issued on February 2, 2004. It had no limitations or waivers. The operator estimated that the pilot had a total flight time of 200 hours.

Second Pilot

A review of FAA airman records revealed that the second pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. He had a third-class medical certificate issued on July 20, 2004. It had no limitations or waivers. No personal flight records were located for the second pilot. The operator estimated that he had a total flight time of 800 hours.


The airplane was a Cessna 182M, serial number 18259968. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed that the airplane had a total airframe time of 3,962.9 hours at the last annual inspection. The logbooks contained an entry for an annual dated April 28, 2005. The tachometer read 129.3 at the last inspection. Technicians installed a new propeller during the annual. One owner indicated that the airplane had a Robertson STOL (short takeoff and landing) conversion, and that it could climb very steeply.

The engine was a Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) O-470-R25M, serial number 815921-R25. Total time recorded on the engine at the last annual inspection was 460.9 hours. The annual entry stated that the engine had been removed and reinstalled following inspection by the TCM factory per TCM service bulletin SB96-11. The TCM inspection report indicated that they found no internal damage. They successfully tested it in accordance with their standard production acceptance test procedure.

The flight log kept in the airplane indicated that it had been flown twice prior to the accident; once for 1.9 hours and once for 1.1 hours.


The closest official weather observation station was Palm Springs (PSP). An aviation routine weather report (METAR) for PSP was issued at 0953. It stated: winds variable at 4 knots; visibility 10 miles; skies clear; temperature 34/93 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; dew point 9/48 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.79 inches of mercury.


Investigators did not examine the wreckage at the accident scene. The IIC flew over the area in a helicopter for a visual assessment of the site. The site was toward the head of a steep-walled canyon with rising terrain to the west. The airplane came to rest on an easterly heading on the south side of the canyon, about 20 feet from the top of the ridgeline. The nose of the airplane abutted a rock face.


The Riverside County Coroner completed autopsies on both pilots. The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of specimens of both pilots. Analysis of the specimens for the first pilot contained no findings for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and tested drugs. The report for the second pilot indicated that they did not test for carbon monoxide or cyanide; it contained no findings for volatiles and tested drugs.


The FAA, Cessna, and TCM were parties to the investigation.

Investigators examined the wreckage at Air Transport, Phoenix, Arizona, on June 22, 2005.

The engine and cabin exhibited heavy mechanical damage. The wings exhibited crush damage that went aft to the spar. The fuselage buckled upwards just aft of the cabin.

The propeller separated; the crankshaft fractured flush with the nose section of the crankcase halves. The fracture surface was along an angular plane around a majority of the circumference. Both blades sustained mechanical damage, and had leading edge gouges. One blade bent aft about 90 degrees and separated at midspan along a jagged angular plane. The other blade separated at midspan along a jagged angular plane.

TCM personnel examined the engine under the supervision of the IIC.

Investigators removed the engine. They placed it on a table. The engine sustained mechanical damage; a portion the lower right-hand section of the crankcase containing the propeller governor pad separated. The oil sump crushed aft to approximately the No. six cylinder location, which exhibited the most extensive mechanical damage. The starter adapter housing and rear pulley fractured.

Investigators removed the top spark plugs. All spark plugs electrodes were clean with no mechanical deformation. The upper barrel sections of the plugs in cylinders No. 3 and No. 5 separated. The spark plug electrodes were oval and gray, which corresponded to normal operation according to the Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug AV-27 Chart.

Investigators manually rotated both magnetos. The left magneto produced spark at posts for cylinders 1, 3, 4 and 5; the right magneto produced spark at posts for cylinders 1, 3, and 5. The ignition switch was in the both position.

The oil pump drive and oil pick up tube were undamaged. The suction screen was not restricted.

The TCM representative noted that the rockerbox covers contained oil that was light colored and free of contaminants. He stated that all cylinder overhead components were lubricated and undamaged. After disassembling the engine, he did not discover any anomalies that would have prevented normal engine operation and production of rated horsepower.


The IIC released the wreckage to the owner's representative on June 22, 2005.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.