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N738QZ accident description

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Crash location 41.121389°N, 74.365000°W
Nearest city West Milford, NJ
41.100096°N, 74.391264°W
2.0 miles away
Tail number N738QZ
Accident date 20 Jun 2010
Aircraft type Cessna 172N
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On June 20, 2010 about 1605 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N738QZ, was substantially damaged when it overran the runway during landing at the Greenwood Lake Airport (4N1), West Milford, New Jersey. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The certificated commercial pilot incurred minor injuries and the student pilot rated passenger was seriously injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to a written statement provided by the commercial rated pilot, they departed Essex County Airport (CDW), Caldwell, New Jersey, flew to 4N1, and performed two "normal" landings. They had lunch, and were planning on performing two landings then a go-around prior to returning to CDW. On the first touch and go she performed a forward slip during the landing approach. The student rated passenger seated in the left seat "started pushing on the yoke resulting in a descent that eventually reached an indicated 100 kts [knots]," and would not relinquish the controls to the accident pilot seated in the right seat. Once the landing gear "touched the runway" the passenger relinquished the controls but the pilot was unable to stop the airplane in the remaining runway. The airplane overran the paved surface of the runway, went through a perimeter fence, and traveled over an embankment. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airplane prior to the accident.

According to two witnesses, who were at the airport and observed the landing, the airplane was "going about 100 miles per hour" just prior to impact. Although they could not see the airplane touchdown due to obstructions, both witness reported hearing "three squeaks," which they attributed to the wheels coming in contact with the runway, and then the sound of a "crash." One witness stated that when he lost sight of the airplane, going in the direction it was traveling, would have placed it "more than half-way down the runway" and that the airplane was still not on the ground. Both witnesses also reported that the airplane was quiet except for wind noise and "the engine was not running." When they arrived at the end of the runway, they noticed the airport fence was damaged and observed the airplane over the edge of the embankment. One of the witnesses switched the fuel selector valve, located between the two front seats, from the "BOTH" position to the "OFF" position.

According to the Chief Instructor of the flight school, which rented the airplane to the pilot, and the schools airplane flight log sheet, the airplane had flown 0.8 hours prior to the accident flight on the day. He further stated that the accident pilot flew the airplane approximately 0.4 hours prior to the accident. Fuel records indicated that the airplane had been refueled twice the day prior; the first fueling was for 8.0 total gallons and the second was for 14.2 total gallons of fuel.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector that responded to the accident location, the airplane came to rest facing the direction of travel and on an approximate 30 degree rocky incline. The airplane had attempted to land on runway 24 and tire marks were located on the paved runway surface approximately 604 feet from the departure end of the runway. The airplane departed the paved surface of the runway onto the surrounding grass, traveled through an airport perimeter fence, and went over the cliff where it came to rest. One propeller blade exhibited no rotational scoring and was not bent. The other propeller blade was bent aft and also exhibited no rotational scoring. On June 24, 2010, further inspection was conducted by a representative of the airframe manufacturer with oversight provided by the FAA.

The flap actuator was examined and revealed that the flaps were in the retracted position. The elevator trim actuator was measured and indicated a 5 degree tab up position. Flight control continuity was confirmed to all surfaces.

The top spark plugs on the engine were removed and examined, were light gray in color, and appeared to be normally worn.

The fuel system was checked and continuity was confirmed from the wing tanks to the carburetor. The wing fuel tanks were intact and the carburetor bowl was cracked.

According to the airplane's Pilot Operating Handbook, Section 2, Limitations, a placard located near the flap indicator read "Avoid slips with flaps extended. Section 4, Normal Procedures, read, "Steep slips should be avoided with flap settings greater than 20° [degrees] due to a slight tendency for the elevator to oscillate under certain combinations of airspeed, sideslip angle, and center of gravity loadings."

According to Section 5, Performance, the short field landing ground roll distance given the atmospheric conditions at the time of the accident would have been approximately 550 feet. The conditions to perform the short field landing were:

Flaps 40 degrees

Power Off

Maximum Braking

Paved, Level, Dry Runway

Zero Wind

The commercial pilot, age 35, held a commercial pilot certificate, with a rating for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane, with private pilot privileges for airplane single-engine sea and a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine. Her most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on February 2, 2006. According to another local flight school, the pilot received a tail wheel endorsement on June 17, 2010. She had flown approximately 10 hours at that flight school prior to receiving the endorsement and had taken one or two lessons in the flight schools "Advanced Tailwheel Bush Pilot" course. She had accumulated 623 total hours of flight experience and 520 total hours of flight experience in airplane single-engine land.

The student pilot rated passenger, age 43, held an FAA student pilot/third-class medical certificate issued on August 9, 2006. However, the student pilot's total flight experience was not determined.

The airplane was manufactured in 1977 and was issued an FAA airworthiness certificate on January 6, 1978. It was equipped with a Lycoming O-320-H2AD engine. The airplane's most recent 100-hour inspection was dated June 17, 2010 at which time the recorded tachometer reading was 10,145.4 hours. According to the FAA inspector that responded to the accident scene, the tachometer reading at the time of the accident was 10,155.2 hours.

FAA records indicated that 4N1 was equipped with a single asphalt runway designated 6/24. The runway measured 3,471-feet-long by 60-feet-wide, and the airport elevation was listed as 791 feet above mean sea level. The runway was noted to have steep rock ledges located just beyond both runway ends. The publicly-owned airport was not equipped with an air traffic control tower.

The 1553 recorded weather observation at Sussex Airport (FWN), Sussex, NJ, located approximately 13 miles to the west of the accident airport, included variable direction winds at 6 knots with gusts of 14 knots, visibility 10 miles, broken cloud layer at 9,000 feet above ground level, temperature 31 degrees C, dew point 18 degrees C; and an altimeter setting of 29.86 inches of mercury.

NTSB Probable Cause

The student pilot’s control interference which resulted in a landing with a higher than normal airspeed, and the commercial pilot’s failure to initiate a go-around to avoid the runway overrun.

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