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N214EV accident description

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Crash location 42.492500°N, 86.196389°W
Nearest city South Haven, MI
42.403087°N, 86.273641°W
7.3 miles away
Tail number N214EV
Accident date 11 Aug 2014
Aircraft type Evolution Trikes Revo
Additional details: None
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NTSB Factual Report

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 11, 2014, at 1216 eastern daylight time, an Evolution Trikes Revo weight-shift-control aircraft, N214EV, impacted terrain following an in-flight breakup near South Haven, Michigan. The pilot was fatally injured and the aircraft sustained substantial damage. The aircraft was registered to Evolution Aircraft Inc. and was operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions were expected along the route of flight and were reported immediately prior to the accident. The flight originated from Lansing Municipal Airport (IGQ), Chicago, Illinois, about 1115, and was en route to Hastings Airport (9D9), Hastings, Michigan.

A witness stated she "heard an engine revving up", followed by a "loud bang". She then walked outside her house and saw a wing descending out of the clouds "like a maple leaf". No radar data was available for the accident sequence.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 45, held a sport pilot certificate with light-sport aircraft, powered parachute, and flight instructor ratings. The pilot did not hold a medical certificate; a medical certificate is not required to exercise sport pilot privileges.

On July 23, 2012, the pilot reported having 377 hours of total flight experience, 133 hours of weight-shift-aircraft, and 244 hours of powered parachute on his FAA application for a flight instructor rating. Recent pilot logbooks were not available for the investigation.

The pilot had a history of noncompliance with FAA regulations. On October 13, 2011, the pilot was counseled for a low flying complaint. On May 5, 2012, the pilot was given an FAA reexamination following an accident. On June 8, 2013, the FAA gave the pilot a formal warning notice. On July 1, 2014, the pilot was counseled by the FAA for flying in less than visual flight rules (VFR) conditions.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Evolution Trikes Revo weight-shift-control aircraft was issued a special airworthiness certificate on July 26, 2014. The aircraft was equipped with a Rotax 912 4-cylinder powerplant and an MGL Avionics Explorer electronic flight instrumentation system (EFIS). The EFIS unit did not contain any non-volatile memory for the accident flight.

WEATHER INFORMATION

At 1156, the weather observation station at South Haven Regional Airport (LWA), South Haven, Michigan, located about 3 miles south of the accident site, reported wind from 060 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 5 miles in light rain, ceiling broken at 500 ft agl, overcast clouds at 2,300 ft agl, temperature and dew point 21 degrees C, altimeter setting 29.88 inches of mercury.

At 1216, the LWA weather observation station reported wind from 020 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 5 miles in moderate drizzle, scattered clouds at 500 ft agl, scattered clouds at 2,300 ft agl, ceiling broken at 8,000 ft agl, temperature and dew point 21 degrees C, and altimeter setting 29.89 inches of mercury.

At the time of the accident, the National Weather Service had an Airmen's Meteorological Advisory (AIRMET) current over the area for instrument meteorological conditions due to ceilings below 1,000 ft agl and visibility below 3 miles in precipitation and mist.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The aircraft's wing impacted a cornfield and the fuselage was located about 600 yards to the east of the fuselage. Examination revealed the aluminum hang block and three attach bolts had fractured. Also fractured were both ends of the control bar, as well as the bolt holding the safety cable to the mast. The entire wing envelope was present, with the exception of the outboard 54 inches of the left wing leading edge (aluminum tube), which was located near the fuselage. The left wing leading edge was bent 90 degrees aft at the location of fracture. The fracture of the left wing leading edge tube toward the aft direction was consistent with a negative G event. The mast of the carriage was twisted left, consistent with a left yaw force on the wing. The left wing strut was fractured in two locations. All fracture surfaces were consistent with overstress.

The engine and propeller exhibited damage consistent with operation at impact. No evidence of bird remains (snarge) was found on any of the wreckage. Additional wreckage information is located in the docket for this investigation. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

On August 12, 2014, an autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Department of Laboratories in Lansing, Michigan. The cause of death was blunt force injuries.

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed toxicology tests on the pilot. Toxicology detected the presence of the medications paroxetine (Paxil®) and methylphenidate (Ritalin® and Concerta®). Paroxetine is a prescription serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication used to treat depression. Methylphenidate is a prescription stimulant medication used in the treatment of attention deficit disorders and narcolepsy. The other substances detected were caffeine and acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Medical records were obtained from the pilot's personal physician. Although limited, these records reflected visits for medication refills of methylphenidate and paroxetine. The pilot carried diagnoses of attention deficit disorder and depression. No mental status exams and no descriptions of the pilot's mood or behavior were recorded.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The issue of aerodynamic tumble was discussed with weight-shift-control aircraft subject matter experts. The tumble mode, a peculiarity of weight-shift-control aircraft, is a departure from controlled flight leading to a nose-down pitch autorotation, with known rotation rates up to 400 degrees per second. Following a series of fatal weight-shift control aircraft accidents, the United Kingdom's Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) commissioned a safety study of the tumble mode. This safety study, as well as a description of the tumble mode, is included in the docket for this investigation.

NTSB Probable Cause

The noninstrument-rated pilot’s decision to continue visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in his loss of aircraft control and the resultant overstress and in-flight breakup of the weight-shift-control aircraft.

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