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N3483E accident description

Nevada map... Nevada list
Crash location 35.970278°N, 115.133889°W
Nearest city Henderson, NV
36.039699°N, 114.981937°W
9.8 miles away
Tail number N3483E
Accident date 28 Apr 2013
Aircraft type Cessna 172N
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On April 28, 2013, about 1557 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N3483E, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing following a reported loss of engine power near Henderson, Nevada. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot and two passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The local flight originated from Henderson Executive Airport (HND) Henderson, Nevada about 1555, with a planned destination of Zamperini Field Airport (TOA) Torrance, California.

In a written statement, the pilot reported that the engine lost power about 450 feet above ground level during climb out from runway 17R. The pilot stated that the engine RPM was slowly decreasing and he decided to start a left turn back towards the airport; however, he could not make it to the runway and initiated a forced landing on a highway. Subsequently, the airplane struck elevated rocky terrain and came to rest upright.

A passenger reported that shortly after takeoff, the accident airplane was shaking and not properly climbing out. The pilot then declared an emergency and attempted to return to the airport. The passenger further stated that shortly after the pilot initiated a left bank, the airplane began to descend rapidly.

Additional witnesses located within the vicinity of the accident site observed the airplane turning left and unable to climb. The witnesses continued to watch the airplane circle to the left and subsequently observed the airplane descend, strike the ground with its wing, while landing on a highway. One witness stated that the airplane's engine sound was steady and normal.

The maximum gross weight for the airplane per Cessna's pilot operating handbook is 2,300 pounds. The pilot stated a takeoff gross weight of 2,279 pounds on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) pilot/operator accident/incident report. However, the weight of the airplane at takeoff was calculated by the NTSB investigator-in-charge, using the empty weight of the airplane as determined by the April 4, 2012, weight and balance revision, the weight of the occupants, 40 gallons of fuel, and 70 pounds of baggage. The calculated gross weight at the time of departure was about 2,426 pounds and the airplane's center of gravity was outside the aft limit of the weight and balance envelope.

A review of recorded weather data from the HND automated weather observation station revealed at 1556 conditions were wind 230 at 8 knots, with gusts to 17 knots, temperature 35 degrees Celsius, dew point -13 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.85 inches of Mercury. Using the reported weather conditions and field elevation, the calculated density altitude was about 5,410 feet.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector examined the airplane postaccident. He observed appropriate flight control and engine continuity and reported no anomalies. The airplane's right wing was observed to sustain substantial damage.

Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine by a certified airframe and powerplant mechanic under the supervision of a FAA inspector revealed no evidence of mechanical anomalies or failures that would have precluded normal operations (see public docket for a detailed report).

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot’s inadequate preflight planning, including operating in excess of the maximum certified gross weight and center of gravity limits at a high density altitude, which resulted in the airplane’s inability to maintain a positive rate of climb after takeoff.

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