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N1218S accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Cordele, GA
31.963507°N, 83.782394°W

Tail number N1218S
Accident date 21 Dec 1999
Aircraft type Cessna 551
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On December 21, 1999, at 2130 eastern standard time, a Cessna 551, N1218S, collided with trees and subsequently the ground following a missed approach to runway 10, at the Crisp County Airport in Cordele, Georgia. The airplane was operated by the private pilot under the provisions of Title 14, CFR Part 91, and instrument flight rules. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an IFR flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The pilot received fatal injuries and the airplane was destroyed. The flight originated in Dallas, Texas, at 1828 central standard time.

According to the Jacksonville Air Traffic Control (ATC) Center, the pilot was given radar vectors to the outer marker and was cleared for the non-precision localizer approach to runway 10. Recorded radar data showed the airplane initiating the approach at 1900 feet mean sea level (MSL) as published. The airplane descended to 600 feet MSL as published and over-flew the airport. The controller stated that he was waiting for the missed approach call, as he observed the airplane climb to 700 feet MSL. The airplane then descended back to 600 feet MSL and disappeared from radar. The controller never received a missed approach call. A witness near the airport stated that he heard the airplane fly over but did not see it. Residents in the area reported to the local authorities that they heard a loud explosion. Search efforts began and the airplane was located at about 0730 on the following day.


The pilot-in-command (PIC) held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for helicopter, single and multi-engine land and for instruments. He also was type rated in the Citation 551. The pilot had owned the accident airplane for eight years and had logged over 958 hours during that time according to his associate.

The pilot's most recent third class medical certificate was issued on April 12, 1999. The pilot had 4,229 hours total time with 130 hours in the last six months with no waivers or limitations. On September 11, 1999, the pilot had satisfactorily completed recurrent training by the ATC Group, Inc., for the Cessna Citation II, in accordance with his insurance requirements.


The airplane was configured with double club seating, a pilot and co-pilot seat, and was certificated for single pilot operation. The airplane was registered to the pilot's company, Valley Projects, Inc., on May 21, 1991. The owner subscribed to Cessna's Cescom services, which is a Cessna computerized maintenance monitoring/reminder program. No overdue inspections were found on Cescom, with the exception of the pitot/static system calibration check. However, the airframe logbook verified the pitot/static system calibration check as having been accomplished on March 5, 1999. According to the log books, the airplane's last 100 hour inspection was accomplished on January 14, 1999, with a total time of 3,650.2 hours. Total time on the airplane at the time of the accident was 3,741 hours.


According to a local resident who lives near the airport, he stated that he "heard a jet over-fly the facility" and "outside, the fog had settled in and visibility was close to zero."

Cordele (CKF) Automated Weather Observation Service (AWOS) weather at the time of the accident reported: skies 300 feet overcast, visibility one and one quarter mile, temperature 13 degrees Celsius (c), dew point 13 degrees C, and winds calm.

The Albany weather, 35 nautical miles southwest of CKF, at 2147 local time was, wind 020 at four knots, three statute miles visibility in mist, 500 feet overcast, temperature 12 degrees C, dew point 12 degrees C, and altimeter 30.11 inches of mercury.

At the Warner-Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia, 40 nautical miles north of CKF at 2120 local time the weather was reported as; wind 300 degrees at one knot, visibility two and one quarter statute mile, in light rain showers and mist, 800 feet overcast, temperature 11 degrees C, dew point 10 degrees C, and altimeter 30.11 inches of mercury.


The impact site was offset from the end of runway 10 on a heading of 140 degrees magnetic, at global positioning system (GPS) coordinates; latitude N 31 degrees 58 minutes and longitude W 083 degrees and 44 minutes. The debris path encompassed an area 550 feet by 80 feet. Three large pine trees, about 50 to 60 feet tall had their tops sheared off approximately 20 feet from the tops. The airplane continued to descend, spreading debris from subsequent impacts with small to medium sized trees. At about 318 feet, the airplane impacted a large oak tree, separating the aft pressure bulkhead, aft fuselage wing carry-thru spar, upper tail-cone skin, horizontal stabilizer and left landing gear. Additionally, the empennage, portions of the right wing, forward cabin and right engine/thrust reverser were separated. The center wing carry-thru section and center fuselage section, the majority of the cockpit, instruments, radios, and the cabin seats were destroyed by fire. The main landing gear actuators were found retracted and the nose gear actuator was extended. Examination of the landing gear system revealed that all three landing gear were in the "up" position.

All flight control surfaces were accounted for. Due to the extent of damage, flight control cable continuity could only be accomplished to the aft tail-cone. Both out-board wings, both stabilizer wings, and both flap panels were completely destroyed, with small to medium sections exhibiting major impact and/or fire damage. The flap cable drive system was destroyed. The flap gear box drive assemblies were found in the scattered debris; however, they were separated from the electric motors and detached from the chain drive assembly. The flap chain drive assembly was not located at the mishap site. During a subsequent wreckage review at Atlanta Air Salvage on January 19, 2000, the flap chain drive assembly was located in the recovered wreckage. Based on the damage chain link measurement observed and a comparison to an undamaged and assembled flap chain drive assembly set to the same dimensions, the flaps were set at five degrees down.

The cockpit seats and cabin seats were found scattered throughout the debris path. Both cockpit seats upholstery and the four-point restraint system webbing were destroyed by fire. The pilots four-point restraint buckle was found in the latched position.

The left engine, a Pratt and Whitney, Model JT15D-4, S/N PCE-70383, turbine engine was found adjacent to the main wing to fuselage carry-thru section and close to the final impact area (end of debris path). The engine components were in several pieces, exhibiting major fire damage. The low compressor fan blades were sheared off 50 to 60 percent and exhibited curling. The thrust reverser actuators and cages had separated from their mounting locations on the thrust reverser duct or outer barrel. The actuator rods were fully extended, and the thrust reverser doors were in the closed or stowed position.

The right engine, a Pratt and Whitney, Model JT15D-4, S/N PCE-71169, turbine engine with the thrust reverser still attached, were found separated from the engine pylon and lying 30 to 40 feet south or to the right of the final impact area. The engine and thrust reverser were mostly intact, exhibiting minor to moderate damage to the inlet assembly and outer bypass duct. The compressor inlet or the area aft of the low compressor fan was impacted with leaves and wood debris. The fan blades were curled and the exhaust section contained burnt ash debris. The thrust reverser actuators and cages were cracked, but remained attached to the thrust reverser duct. The actuator rods were fully extended, and the thrust reverser doors were in the closed or stowed position.


A post mortem examination of the pilot was conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Division of Forensic Sciences, in Atlanta, Georgia. On February 17, 2000, a toxicology examination of the pilot was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Research Laboratory. The examination revealed no carbon monoxide, cyanide, or drugs detected in the blood, and no ethanol was detected in the vitreous fluid.


An engine inspection was conducted on January 21, 2000, at the Pratt & Whitney Canada Service Centre, Atlanta, Georgia. The following is a summary of the inspection findings:

The left hand engine was a JT15D-4, S/N 70383, with a total time of 5,423 hours, and 2,551 hours since overhaul. The engine displayed severe fire and impact damage, including complete fire consumption of the intermediate case, accessory gearbox, and the inner and outer bypass ducts. Circumferential rubbing and scoring were displayed by the low compressor fan, the low compressor booster, the high compressor, and the first and second stage low pressure turbines due to radial contact with their adjacent shrouds under impact loads and external housing distortion.

The right hand engine was a JT15D-4, S/N 71169, with a total time of 3,738 hours, and 257 hours since overhaul. The engine displayed light impact damage and no fire damage. Circumferential rubbing and scoring were displayed by the low compressor fan, the low compressor booster, and the first stater low pressure turbine due to contact with their adjacent shrouds under impact loads and external housing distortion. Ingested debris was distributed through the low compressor case, the high pressure compressor, and the combustion section.

During the examinations there were no indications of operational dysfunction to any of the engine components examined, to the extent possible regarding impact damage. Both the left and right hand engines displayed contact signatures to their internal components characteristic of the engines' producing power at impact, likely in a low to middle power range. The engines displayed no indications of any pre-impact anomalies or distress that would have precluded normal operation prior to impact.


The wreckage was released to the owner's insurance representative Phil Powell, Carson and Brooks, Post Office Box 888525, 2300 Peachford Rd. Suite 1200, Atlanta, Georgia 30356.

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