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N1081Q accident description

Nevada map... Nevada list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Reno, NV
39.529633°N, 119.813803°W
Tail number N1081Q
Accident date 06 Sep 1994
Aircraft type Cessna 310H
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On September 6, 1994, at 1844 hours Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 310H, N1081Q, was destroyed during a go-around attempt at the Reno Cannon International Airport, Reno, Nevada. The aircraft was operated by Copper State Air Service, Inc., of Mesa, Arizona, and was conducting an on-demand all cargo flight under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 135 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. The pilot received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated at Reno on the day of the accident at 1015 hours with intrastate stops at Lovelock, Elko, Eureka, and Ely. Return stops were made at Eureka and Elko en route to Reno, for a scheduled arrival time of 1845 hours.

At 1834:49, the pilot of Copper State flight 162 (COP162) contacted Reno approach 15 miles northeast of the Mustang VOR with information Romeo (airport terminal information service). The pilot was assigned a transponder code of 0443.

At 1837:35, COP162 was told by approach control to "reduce speed to 120 knots if able traffic landing runway 16L before you." The pilot acknowledged the transmission and was then advised that his traffic was at his "2 o'clock position 7 miles on final for runway 16L a Boeing 727 8,000 feet and descending." The pilot reported the traffic in sight.

COP162 was told by approach to plan to cross the threshold after the Boeing traffic was through the intersection of 16L and 25. The pilot stated, "ok we'll do that."

At 1840 hours, the pilot changed to the tower frequency and reported about 5 miles east for landing on runway 25, and he had the Boeing 727 in sight.

The tower advised the pilot that he was overtaking the 727, and suggested a right turn and a right base entry for runway 25. The pilot stated that he had already "slowed quite a bit and can keep it tight and turn right behind the 727."

The local controller again requested that the pilot reduce to the slowest practical airspeed. The pilot stated, "ok we're slowing it down now." The pilot said "if it's ok with you I can make a couple of s turns on final that should give me enough spacing." At 1842:47, the pilot was told to go-around and enter a right downwind for runway 25. The pilot stated, "on the go." The tower replied, "cop162 at your discretion make a right turn back to base and cleared to land runway 25." The pilot acknowledged the clearance.

At 1843:37, the tower asks the pilot if he has a problem, and the pilot replies, "yes I do." Then at 1843:42 the pilot said, "i'm going to crash." An emergency locator beacon signal was received by the tower at 1843:47.

Ground witnesses observed the aircraft during the initial portion of the go-around. The aircraft appeared to be slow, with the landing gear and flaps in the extended position. The aircraft seemed to be "wallowing" during the go-around. As the aircraft neared the airline terminal, the witnesses observed the landing gear retract, then the aircraft rolled to the left to a wings vertical position, and fell to the ground.


The pilot started his employment with the operator on December 27, 1993. The operator's records state that the pilot had a total flight time of 2,381 hours with 510 hours in a Cessna 310 at the time of the accident.

On July 5, 1994, the pilot had a landing accident during a company flight operation at Elko, Nevada, when the right landing gear collapsed on the landing rollout.

On July 12, 1994, the pilot had an incident at Elko, Nevada. During the landing rollout the left engine quit. In an attempt to restart the engine to taxi to the ramp, there was an explosion in the engine compartment. The top cowling was blown about 50 feet away from the aircraft.


An examination of the airframe log book revealed that the last documented annual inspection was conducted on December 1, 1993. At the time of the annual inspection the operator reported a total airframe time of 5,425.4 hours.

The daily timekeeping and discrepancy log was recovered from the aircraft. According to the hobbs meter reading at the accident site, the aircraft had flown a total of 4:24 hours on the day of the accident.

The aircraft departed Reno at 1015 hours on the first flight of the day. It departed with full main fuel tanks (100 gallons). The pilot had added 110 gallons of fuel during the course of the day's flights. There was 60 gallons of fuel added at Ely and 50.4 at Elko. The operator stated that the aircraft should have had 80- to 100-gallons of fuel onboard upon returning to Reno. The average fuel burn per hour is 26 gallons for planning purposes.

According to records, there was about 80 pounds of bank mail onboard the accident aircraft. There was also a styrofoam chest of blood samples from a prison at Ely, estimated to be about 20 pounds.


The wreckage was located on the north side of the "B" terminal complex at Reno-Cannon International Airport, between jetway B4 and B6. The center of the impact point was 36 feet west of the B6 jetway, and about 20 feet north of the passenger viewing windows. The right side of the airplane was straddling a Delta Airlines tow tug.

The right wing tip fuel tank was found separated from the wing. The right wing was separated from the fuselage, with the tow tug in-between. The right wing exhibited a leading edge diagonal crushing effect from about the aux tank filler cap outboard through the main tip tank. The aileron was found separated from the wing.

The engine and the nacelle were still attached with crushing from the front toward the aft. The right propeller had separated from the engine crankshaft flange. Both propeller blades were damaged. A right propeller blade tip was recovered inside a "B" complex wall. The majority of the blade and the blade butt was located beneath the wreckage. The blade revealed leading edge damage. The other blade was found about 20 feet southeast at the base of the complex. The blade was found bent aft with chordwise striations.

The left wing tip fuel tank was found separated from the wing. The aileron was still attached to the wing. The engine and the nacelle were broken from the wing, but still attached by hoses and control cables. The propeller was separated from the engine. One propeller blade was found with little damage about 210 feet west of the impact point. A second left propeller blade with some damage was located about 39 feet northwest of the impact point.

Examination of the fuselage revealed that the nose section was accordioned aft to the base of the windshield. The cabin door assembly was found on the left side of the aircraft atop the left wing. The left wing was still attached at the main spar attach point. The rear spar attach point had separated. The aft fuselage was found intact with some damage to the left horizontal stabilizer and the left elevator. The cargo of bank mail bags remained inside the aircraft.


On September 7, 1994, the Washoe County Coroner performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was attributed to multiple injuries due to blunt force trauma. No preexisting medical conditions were noted that would have contributed or affected the decedent's abilities to pilot an airplane. Samples were obtained from the pilot for toxicological analysis by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The results of the toxicological analysis was negative for drugs, carbon monoxide, and volatiles.


The engines were shipped to Continental Motors in Mobile, Alabama, for examination. The examination and teardown of the engines and their components did not reveal any evidence of a failure or a malfunction that could have been causal in the accident.

The propellers were shipped to McCauley Propeller Company in Vandalia, Ohio, for examination under the supervision of the FAA. The report stated that both propellers were rotating at impact. Neither propeller was at or near the feather position at impact. The report further stated that the right hand propeller exhibited severe blade damage including bending and twisting, indicating a significantly high rpm and power at impact. The overall propeller breakup of the left propeller is very similar to that of the right propeller, indicating similar energy. The left hand blades, however, do not exhibit damage to the extent of that of the right, perhaps indicating lower power at impact.

The voice communication tape was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board's Engineering and Computer Services laboratory in Washington, D.C., for analysis. The landing gear and the stall warning horns were removed from the wreckage and sent to Washington to analyze their frequencies.

After testing the horns in various configurations, it was determined that there was not a frequency match. Subsequently, the starter vibrator was removed and sent to the laboratory. That component did not match the frequency that was recovered from the voice tape.


The wreckage was released to the operator's insurance company representative on November 7, 1994.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain minimum control airspeed.

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