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N960CT accident description

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Crash location 39.122500°N, 77.560278°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 Leesburg, VA
39.115662°N, 77.563602°W
0.5 miles away

Tail number N960CT
Accident date 06 Jul 2002
Aircraft type Diamond Aircraft Industries DA 20C-1
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On July 6, 2002, about 1020 eastern daylight time, a Diamond Aircraft Industries DA 20C-1, N960CT, operated by AV-ED Flight School Inc., was substantially damaged during a forced landing in Leesburg, Virginia. The certificated airline transport pilot sustained fatal injuries, and the pilot rated passenger was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight that departed Leesburg Executive Airport (JYO), Leesburg, VA, about 0940. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The passenger stated that the pilot-in-command (PIC) flew one traffic pattern, and performed a touch-and-go landing. Due to traffic congestion at JYO, the PIC decided to fly to the practice area and "fly around." The PIC planned to return to the airport traffic area once the congestion diminished.

The PIC initially climbed away from the airport, then let the passenger fly two clearing turns at 2,500 feet msl. The pilot subsequently retook control of the airplane, and climbed to 3,000 feet msl. He leveled the airplane about 2,900 feet msl, and remained clear of Class B airspace. At that time, the engine experienced a total loss of power. The propeller kept wind-milling, and engine sounded like it was less than idle power, and sputtering. The engine did not vibrate unusually or backfire. The passenger initially believed that the engine "never fully quit," but later thought that it was "more accurate" that the engine lost all power.

The PIC performed the items on the emergency checklist, which included cycling the throttle, electric fuel pump, fuel primer, ignition key (except for OFF), and alternate air. However, the engine did not regain power. The PIC initially glided toward JYO, but decided that he was not going to make the airport, and attempted to land in a field. However, the airplane impacted nose down, left wing low, in a cul-de-sac. It then traveled about 100 feet and came to rest in the driveway of a residence, about 1/10-mile southeast of the field.

The pilot of another airplane was flying in the area about 1005, and heard a radio transmission reporting an engine failure. He stated:

"The accident pilot stated he was about 5 miles out but when he passed me he was a lot closer. He proceeded towards Leesburg Airport at about 700 feet above the ground. Pilot made a quick right turn and it was clear that he was planning to set up an emergency landing at Ida Lee Park. During the turn back to the field his plane stalled (not from engine stall) from too little airspeed in turn. He was in a left turn when he went down."

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight; located approximately 39 degrees, 07.35 minutes north latitude, and 77 degrees, 33.62 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate, with a rating for multi-engine land airplane. He also held a commercial pilot certificate, with ratings for single engine land and instrument airplane. In addition, the pilot held several type ratings for large transport category aircraft.

The pilot's most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first class medical certificate was issued on February 7, 2002.

On April 5, 2002, the pilot completed a Renters Personal Data form for the operator of the accident airplane. On the form, he listed a total flight experience of 12,632 hours; of which, 12,395 hours were in multi-engine airplanes, and 237 hours were in single engine airplanes.

At the time of the accident, according to one of the pilot's logbooks, he had about 6 hours in the same make and model as the accident airplane. The 6 hours were within the preceding 120 days prior to the accident.


The airplane was manufactured in 2000, placed in storage until October 2001, and then delivered to the operator. It had accumulated about 142 hours of operation, according to the Hobbs meter, when the most recent annual inspection was performed on May 1, 2002. The airplane had accumulated about 285 hours when the most recent 100-hour inspection was performed on June 27, 2002. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated about 312 hours of operation.

Prior to the accident, during the time period when the accident airplane was with the operator, there was no record of any previous engine power losses. However, during that same time period, the operator was flying one additional DA 20C-1, N228NH. The operator experience two power loss events with that airplane.

According to the pilots that flew N228NH, the engine experienced a total loss of power during slow flight. After the power loss, the pilot lowered the nose and engaged the starter. The engine regained power and the pilot landed uneventfully. Additionally, another pilot experienced a total loss of engine power in N228NH, while on final approach. At the time, the pilot was near the airport and did not attempt to regain power. The pilot landed uneventfully.

According to both pilots of N228NH, and a representative from the airplane manufacturer, that particular airplane had an improper fuel setup. A manufacturer representative then met with mechanics and properly set the fuel system. No subsequent power loss events occurred with N228NH.


JYO was located about 3 miles south of the accident site. The reported weather at JYO, at 1020, was: wind from 340 degrees at 4 knots, sky clear, visibility 10 miles, temperature 78 degrees F, dew point 57 degrees F, altimeter 30.15 inches Hg.


The wreckage was examined at the accident site on July 6 and July 7. The airplane was found on the driveway of a residence, oriented about a 320-degree heading. About 35 feet prior to the airplane, some ground scars and debris were observed on the street. The ground scars extended on an approximate 035-degree heading, and contained portions of the left wingtip. According to witnesses, fuel leaked from the airplane after the accident, and a strong odor of fuel was present. Additionally, fuel stains and erosion was present on the driveway.

Flight control continuity was confirmed from all control surfaces to the cockpit area. The cockpit was intact, but sustained some crushing damage at the left side and firewall. The flap switch was found in the flaps retracted position. The throttle and mixture control were found in the full forward position. The fuel selector was in the "ON" position, the alternate air control was found mid-range, and the ignition key was broken at the "R" position. All seatbelts and shoulder harnesses were found intact, and emergency personnel confirmed that the pilots had them fastened.

The nose gear and left main gear separated during impact. The left wing was partially separated, and rotated forward. The left flap was broken, and extended beyond 90 degrees. The left aileron was found in the approximate neutral position, and had separated about mid-span. Impact damage was observed on the outboard leading edge of the left wing, and scraping damage was observed on the bottom wing surface.

The empennage, vertical stabilizer, and horizontal stabilizer exhibited minimal impact damage. The elevator trim assembly was broken consistent with impact forces, and found in a nose-up position. The right wing exhibited minor damage to the outboard leading edge. The right aileron was in the approximate neutral position, and the right flap was extended approximately 15 degrees.

A portion had separated from both wooden propeller blades. The left side of the engine cowling and the number four cylinder sustained impact damage. The intake and exhaust rocker-arm assembly from the number four cylinder was broken, and found on the ground in the vicinity of the engine. The top spark plugs were removed and inspected. Their electrodes were intact and light gray in color. However, the number two cylinder spark plug electrode was black and sooty.

The airplane was recovered to a secure facility, and further examination of the engine was conducted on July 8 and July 9. During the recovery, several ounces of fuel were drained into a mason jar. The fuel was clear, light blue in color, and absent of any visible contamination. The propeller was rotated by hand, and camshaft and crankshaft continuity was confirmed. Except for the number four cylinder that had sustained impact damage, thumb compression was obtained and valve train continuity was confirmed on the remaining cylinders. The engine was then disassembled.

Oil was present throughout the engine, and no metal contamination was observed in the oil or oil filter. The oil pump assembly was intact, and no damage was noted. The air plenum and induction tubes were intact and no debris was observed. The mechanical fuel pump drive socket was bent consisted with impact damage, but the shaft, vanes, and rotor were intact. No rotational scoring was observed on the drive socket. Due to the impact damage, the mixture setting on the fuel pump could not be verified. The injector nozzles were removed and inspected, and no damage or blockage was observed.

Aside from black soot present on the number two cylinder spark plugs and piston, no discrepancies were noted within the engine. The crankshaft, camshaft, pistons, connecting rod, and bearings were all intact. The lifters were removed and disassembled. Their springs and plungers were intact and undamaged.

Traces of fuel were found in the lines, strainer, engine pump, filter, and fuel manifold. The airframe and engine fuel filters were absent of debris. A hose was connected to the electric fuel pump and a container of water. When the battery was reconnected; the electric fuel pump activated, and water pumped through the fuel line. Except for one hole where the fuel line had sustained crushing damage, continuity was confirmed from the fuel tank to the mechanical fuel pump. The fuel vent appeared absent of any obstructions, and air passed through the vent freely.

A check of the magneto timing revealed that the breaker points opened at 25 degrees prior to top-dead-center, consistent with manufacturer guidelines. The magnetos were rotated by hand, and produced current at all leads. The fuel control unit, injector lines, nozzles, manifold, magnetos, number two cylinder, piston, and connecting rod were all retained for further examination and testing.

The wreckage was reexamined on September 5, 2002. Continuity was reconfirmed from the throttle and mixture control to the cable end. Continuity was also confirmed throughout the ignition switch, using an ohmmeter.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by personnel from the Virginia State Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Fairfax, Virginia.

Toxicological testing was conducted on the pilot at the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


At the manufacturer's facility, under the supervision of a Safety Board investigator, both magnetos were tested on a magneto test stand. Both magnetos fired a spark across a 7mm spark gap.

The fuel manifold was flow-tested using the nozzles and lines from the accident airplane. The fuel manifold flowed within specifications. The fuel control unit was also flow tested. The fuel control unit flowed within specifications at throttle angles of 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 30 degrees, 40 degrees, 50 degrees, and full throttle. The fuel control unit flowed higher than the specifications at a zero throttle angle due to a higher idle setting.

Further examination of the number two cylinder was unable to determine the cause of the black sooty deposit. However, the sooty deposit appeared to be over a normal combustion deposit. Additionally, the cylinder valve guides did not exhibit any abnormal seating or wear.

The operator reported that no black sooty deposit was noted on the airplane's most recent inspection.


The engine components were shipped to the manufacturer via Federal Express. During transit, the shipping label had separated from the package, and it was held at a Federal Express sort facility for about 12 days. The packaging was opened, the components were verified, and the package was then forwarded to the manufacturer by Federal Express personnel. All components were accounted for when received at the manufacturer.

The wreckage was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company on July 9, 2002.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.