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N512EA accident description

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Crash location 45.448889°N, 98.418611°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Aberdeen, SD
45.459699°N, 98.505927°W
4.3 miles away

Tail number N512EA
Accident date 27 Jul 2003
Aircraft type Ullrich Auriga FT
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On July 27, 2003, at 1615 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Ullrich Auriga FT, N512EA, operated by Express Aircraft Company LLC, was destroyed on impact with terrain and post-impact fire at Aberdeen Regional Airport (ABR), Aberdeen, South Dakota. After takeoff, the airplane went into a right bank turn and crashed into an airport parking lot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 business flight was not operating on a flight plan. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and there were no ground injuries. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

According to the Express Aviation Company LLC general manager, the accident airplane had the reciprocating engine replaced with a Pratt and Whitney PT6 engine, and new wings were installed on it. The airplane had been flying with this configuration since January 15, 2003. The pilot was flying the airplane to Experimental Aircraft Association's 2003 Sun and Fun airshow. He said that they had some engine problems on the day prior to the accident in that it was not getting enough fuel pressure at higher altitudes. The only change which was made to the fuel system to incorporate the PT6 engine was to change the fuel selector to one that would be able to have a both selection. He also stated that the propeller was an unapproved combination with the engine. They had some engine problems with the airplane the day before the accident in that it was not getting enough fuel pressure at higher altitudes.

A witness reported that after the airplane departed, it sounded "like the plane was losing power and it was surging."

A second witness reported he "noticed that his engine started to sound different, like it wasn't getting enough power or something. After hearing this, I saw that he was starting to bank off to the east over Aberdeen Flying Service, then I heard him come on over the radio, and that's when I heard, 'I'm going down, I'm going down,' and then all I heard was the plane hitting the ground. Before the take off everything sounded fine with the plane and everything seemed like it was ok."


The pilot, age 58, was the president of Express Aircraft Company LLC. He held a commercial pilot certificate with single-engine land, multi-engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter, instrument airplane and helicopter ratings. He also held a repairman experimental aircraft certificate. He reported a total flight time of 1,050 civilian hours and 3,200 military hours of flight time on his last airmen medical certificate application. He was issued a third class airman medical certificate on February 26, 2003, with the following restriction: "must wear corrective lenses."


The ABR Automated Surface Observation System recorded at 1553: wind 360 at 4 knots; 10 statute mile visibility; sky condition clear; temperature 23 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 15 degrees (C); altimeter setting 30.17 inches of mercury.


ABR was a uncontrolled airport with an elevation of 1,302 feet mean sea level. The airport was served by runway 13/31 (6,901 feet by 100 feet, concrete) and runway 17/35 (5,500 feet by 100 feet, asphalt).


The airplane impacted a parking lot about 1,000 feet from runway threshold 17 and about 600 feet south from the interstate. The light poles around the main wreckage, one 25 feet in front and one 60 feet behind the main wreckage, were undamaged. Post accident fire consumed the airplane after impact. About eight automobiles in the area were burned or damaged. Photos of the accident site are enclosed in the docket of this report.


An autopsy of the pilot was conducted by the Brown County Coroner on July 28, 2003.

The Federal Aviation Administration's Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report for the pilot reported the following: bisoprolol detected in blood and bisoprolol detected in urine.

Bisoprolol is a prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure, typically not expected to result in impairment, but which may result in a decreased G-tolerance in aerobatic maneuvers.


A fuel system schematic provided by the Express Aircraft Company LLC general manager, showed the fuel system to be comprised of two 70.5 gallon wing tanks, a header tank, a fire wall shut-off valve, a King Air gascolator, an electric driven fuel boost pump, an engine driven boost pump, and a fuel control unit with a high pressure pump. The engine driven fuel boost pump, which was located downstream from the electric driven boost pump, was rated at 35 PSI. The electric driven boost pump, which was located upstream of the engine driven boost pump, was rated at 45 PSI.

A download of avionics nonvolatile memory, indicated a maximum fuel pressure of 36.0 PSI for the flight. The corresponding airspeed indicator on the download simulation was below the indicators white and green arcs.

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