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N984AT accident description

New Mexico map... New Mexico list
Crash location 36.421945°N, 105.723056°W
Nearest city Taos, NM
36.407249°N, 105.573066°W
8.4 miles away
Tail number N984AT
Accident date 07 Jul 2012
Aircraft type Murray Richard F Aircam By Lockwood
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 7, 2012, about 0930 mountain daylight time, a kit-built Murray AirCam airplane, N984AT, impacted terrain near Taos, New Mexico. The private pilot and passenger were both seriously injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by private individuals under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight which operated without a flight plan. The local flight departed the Taos Regional Airport (KSKX), Taos, New Mexico, about 0925.

According to statements taken by the responding Federal Aviation Administration inspectors, the eyewitnesses reported it was windy on the day of the accident, with wind blowing through the Rio Grande Gorge. The airplane was seen flying about 100-200 feet above ground level and headed south along edge of the gorge. The airplane was low enough that the witnesses could see the pilot waving at them and estimated the airplane's altitude at 100-200 feet above ground level. They reported the airplane maneuvered near the edge of the gorge and thought the airplane was going to descend into the gorge. The airplane pitched nose up and the airplane banked right to near 90 degrees. It descended and collided with terrain.

In a statement provide by the pilot's attorney, the airplane was heading south near the western edge of the Rio Grande Gorge about 400-500 feet above ground level. Winds were gusting from the canyon and the pilot lost control of the airplane as it started to descent and rolled to the right. The pilot could not regain control of the airplane before it impacted the ground on its right side.

Examinations of the airframe by the kit manufacturer and the NTSB investigator-in-charge did not reveal any preimpact anomalies which would have precluded normal flight. The right wing was fragmented and torn and the right horizontal stabilizer was bent upwards near its mid-span. The left wing was relatively undamaged. The engines were configured with turbo control units (TCUs) which recorded data about every minute, with only the last 20 minutes retained in the system's memory. Data extracted from the TCUs revealed that after takeoff, the airplane climbed about 540 feet above ground level. About one minute after takeoff, the both engines were reduced from full power to between 23% to 47% power. The right engine's TCU stopped recording about two minutes prior to the left engine. Damage to the right engine likely stopped the engine during the impact sequence.

Weather information recorded at the Taos Regional Airport (KSKX), 3.25 nautical miles northeast of the accident site, reported wind from 160 degrees at 7 knots gusting to 14 knots. The gorge was oriented north to south.

The AirCam has a light wing loading which decreases the stability of the wing in increased wind. In addition, an excerpt from the AirCam's flight manual states:

Be aware of mechanical turbulence. Pay attention to the direction and strength of the wind and how the turbulence form obstructions, like tree line, might effect you on your intended flight path.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's decision to fly in gusty wind conditions at low altitude over mountainous terrain contrary to guidance in the airplane flight manual and subsequent loss of airplane control due to wind and turbulence.

© 2009-2020 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.