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N7144N accident description

Delaware map... Delaware list
Crash location 39.580556°N, 75.615556°W
Nearest city Delaware City, DE
39.577890°N, 75.588815°W
1.4 miles away
Tail number N7144N
Accident date 08 Apr 2003
Aircraft type Raytheon V35A
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On April 8, 2003, about 0955 eastern daylight time, a Raytheon V35A, N7144N, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Delaware City, Delaware, while executing an instrument approach to New Castle County Airport (ILG), Wilmington, Delaware. The certificated private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the Wilmington area for the business flight that departed Asheville Regional Airport (AVL), Asheville, North Carolina. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed and activated for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to air traffic control (ATC) data, the flight progressed without incident until in the Wilmington area. There the airplane completed two circuits in holding before being vectored onto the final approach course, in instrument meteorological conditions, for the Instrument Landing System (ILS) Runway 1 approach. The airplane intercepted the final approach course about 4.0 miles outside the locator outer marker (LOM), and tracked the localizer inbound, while maintaining a constant altitude of 2,000 feet msl. About 2.0 miles from the LOM, approach control issued an approach clearance, and instructed the pilot to contact the tower.

The pilot acknowledged both transmissions, adding "appreciate all your help," which was the last transmission received from the accident airplane. As the airplane neared the LOM, it started a gradual descent to 1,500 feet msl, and slowed to a ground speed of approximately 70 knots. This condition lasted for approximately 20 seconds before the airplane entered a rapid descent, and radar contact was lost. The airplane impacted the ground approximately 475 feet left of the final approach course and abeam the LOM.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight. The wreckage was located at 39 degrees, 34.829 minutes north latitude, 75 degrees, 36.935 minutes west longitude, and an elevation of approximately 20 feet msl.


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine-land rating, and an instrument airplane rating. On his last FAA third-class medical certificate, which was dated August 22, 2002, the pilot reported a total flight experience of 6,500 hours.

Only one pilot log book was recovered during the course of the investigation. It had a start date of September 15, 1997, and the last entry was dated November 6, 1999. During that time frame, the pilot logged 143.7 hours of total time with 45 hours in actual instrument conditions. According to an insurance company document dated June 25, 2002, the pilot had a total time of 6,825 hours, 6,575 hours in make and model, and completed a flight review on March 19, 2002.


According to maintenance records, the airplane received an annual inspection on September 21, 2002. At the time of the inspection the airplane had 6340.1 hours.


A weather observation taken about 4 minutes before the accident at the New Castle Airport, recorded the wind as 040 degrees at 12 knots, visibility 10 miles, ceiling 1,000 overcast, temperature 36 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.36 inches of mercury.


The airplane came to rest in an open field on a magnetic heading of 230 degrees, and approximately 45 degrees nose down. The impact crater, which contained the engine and cockpit, was approximately 4 feet deep, and had backfilled with mud and water. The majority of the main wreckage was confined to the dimensions of the airplane, and all the structure and flight controls were present. In addition, the landing gear was down, and the flaps were up.

Impact damage on the left and right wings were similar. Both leading edges were compressed to the main spar, and both fuel tanks were ruptured consistent with hydrodynamic force. The left and right flaps, along with both ailerons remained attached. The empennage was bent approximately 45 degrees to the left, the tail section was bent up approximately 45 degrees, and both elevators were attached.

The throw-over control column left side locking hole was elongated. Flight control continuity was confirmed from both ailerons and both elevators to the control column. Continuity was also confirmed from both elevators to the rudder pedals. The pitch trim actuator was extended approximately 0.70 inch, which corresponded to a slight nose up attitude.

Examination of the flight and engine instruments revealed that the face of the airspeed indicator had two parallel scratches that started at the center of the indicator and passed over the 190-knot index. The face of the engine RPM gauge also had two parallel scratches that originated at its center, and transitioned over the 2,600-rpm index. The altimeter needles had separated from the instrument, and the Kollsman window was set to 30.03 inches of mercury. The horizontal situation indicator (HSI) indicated 180 degrees, and the heading bug was set to 350 degrees. The attitude indicator vertical gyro rotor and housing displayed rotational scoring. The electric driven turn coordinator gyro rotor and housing also displayed rotational scoring. The HSI electric driven directional gyro rotor and housing did not display any rotational scoring or static marks. Continuity of the electrical system could not be confirmed because of impact damage.

Continuity of the fuel system was confirmed from both tanks to the fuel selector, and from the fuel selector through the electric driven boost pump to the engine driven fuel pump. The fuel selector was in the right tank position. The selector was opened, and the fuel screen was absent of debris.

The engine was located approximately 4 feet below ground level at the bottom of the impact crater. The propeller was attached and all three blades were attached to the hub. The No. 1 blade was bent rearward approximately 30 degrees, and displayed leading edge gouges. The No. 2 blade was bent approximately 35 degrees opposite the direction of rotation, and the tip was twisted towards low pitch. The No. 3 blade was bent rearward approximately 45 degrees, displayed chordwise leading edge polishing, and the tip was also twisted towards low pitch. The propeller governor had separated from its mount consistent with impact damage, and was not recovered.

All six cylinders were intact, and displayed impact damage. The alternator was compromised and displayed impact damage. The left magneto was partially separated and the right magneto had completely separated from the accessory section. All the ignition leads displayed impact damage, and continuity of the system could not be confirmed because of impact damage. The engine oil filter had separated from its mount consistent with impact, and continuity of the external portion of the oil system could not be confirmed.

The fuel pump was attached, the aneroid was compromised, and the bellows were damaged. Continuity of the fuel line that connected the engine driven pump to the metering unit was confirmed. Continuity was also confirmed for the line that connected the metering unit to the fuel divider, but not to the fuel nozzles because of impact damage. The metering unit and throttle had separated from the engine. The throttle was approximately 90 percent open, and the mixture arm was approximately 70 percent from idle cutoff.

The turbo normalizer waste gate was approximately 90 percent open. The turbo normalizer was removed and opened. The compressor housing displayed static marks and rotational scoring that overran the static marks. The compressor-retaining nut was lose, and some of the compressor blades were broken opposite the direction of rotation. Continuity of the intake and exhaust systems could not be confirmed because of impact damage

The top sparkplugs were removed. The No. 1, No. 5, and No. 6 electrodes were dark gray and contained mud. The No. 2 was dark gray and absent of debris, and the No. 3 and No. 4 were gray and absent of debris. Both magnetos displayed impact and water damage, and neither produced spark when a rotational force was applied to their input drives.

The engine driven fuel pump was removed, and the shear coupling was intact. The vacuum pump was removed, and its shear coupling was also intact. The vacuum pump was opened, and the rotor and some of the vanes were fragmented. The engine driven scavenge pump was opened. The gears were intact and no metallic debris was identified. The engine driven oil pump was also opened. The gears were intact and no metallic debris was identified.

A rotational force was applied to the engine crankshaft, but the engine would not rotate. The starter adapter, alternator, propeller governor mount, and left magneto were removed. Between the removal of each item, an unsuccessful attempt was made to rotate the engine.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Delaware on April 9, 2003.

The FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed a toxicological test on the pilot on May 8, 2003.


The final approach course for the ILS Runway 1 approach was 015 degrees magnetic. The glide slope intercept altitude was 1,900 feet msl. The LOM crossing altitude was 1,854 feet msl. Decision height for the ILS straight-in to Runway 1, all categories, was 276 feet msl, or 200 feet agl. No anomalies with the approach were identified during a subsequent flight check.


According to the Pilot's Operating Handbook, the power off stall speed with flaps up ranged from 60 to 92 knots, depending on angle of bank.

The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on April 10, 2003.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control. A factor in the accident was instrument meteorological conditions.

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