Pilot Reported Control Problems Prior To Impact
This is a tough accident to think about. Control failures are one of the most feared inflight failures one can imagine... but then again, with the stability and control profile of the average C172, its hard to understand why aggressive use of the rudder wasn't able to right the airplane from most bank scenarios. We're looking forward to seeing the final report on this accident...
NTSB Identification: ERA12FA484
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 25, 2012 in San Juan, PR
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N73115
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
On July 25, 2012 about 1420 Atlantic standard time, a Cessna 172M, N73115, was substantially damaged when it impacted the water near Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport (TJIG), San Juan, Puerto Rico. The airplane had departed from Antonio/Nery/Juarbe Pol Airport (TJAB), Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a visual flight rules flight plan had been filed. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
According to voice recordings obtained from the contract Air Traffic Control tower at TJIG, the pilot reported "…the aileron cable broke and have trouble keeping the aircraft in straight and level flight…" According to numerous eyewitness reports the airplane appeared to be maintaining level flight and subsequently banked to the right, as viewed from behind, descended, and then impacted the water in a right wing down attitude. One eyewitness, located in an aircraft that was following the accident airplane on final, reported that the airplane had "made some zigzagging" prior to the aircraft banking to the right. Security camera video recorded the airplane impacting the water surface with the right wing tip, the airplane then cartwheeled, and disappeared below the water surface.
According to U.S. Coast Guard channel charts the airplane was found submerged in approximately 44 feet of water, approximately 1,500 feet from the threshold of runway 9, the intended landing runway. The wreckage debris was located slightly to the south of the extended centerline for runway 9.
The airplane was recovered from the water. Inspection of the airplane showed the right aileron cable was separated at the pulley near the top of the left aft door post. The right aileron cable and associated doorpost pulley were retained for further examination at the NTSB Materials Laboratory.