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Tue, Jun 30, 2009

NTSB Releases Factual Findings In 2007 RV-10 Crash

Pilot/Builder May Have Rushed Through Some Procedures

On November 2, 2007, at 0832 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Vans RV-10, (N289DT), was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Greenville, Pennsylvania. There was a subsequent fire which further damaged the airplane. The private pilot/builder was fatally injured. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight that departed Greenville Municipal Airport,  Greenville, Pennsylvania. No flight plan was filed or required.

The NTSB report is quite lengthy. It read, in part:

"According to a family member, the pilot had driven to the airport to practice "touch and go's" and to make sure everything was functioning properly, prior to a planned afternoon trip in the airplane with his family to Boston, Massachusetts.

Witness interviews were conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Safety Board, and while no one saw the airplane depart Greenville, the airplane was observed by a witness at approximately 0800 traveling in a northwesterly direction at low altitude, moving "fast" and sounding like it was "running strong like a Ford Mustang (turbocharged) Cobra that the witness once owned." At approximately 0825, the airplane was again observed; this time by multiple witnesses. Descriptions varied between witness statements as to the altitude, direction of flight, and velocity of the airplane; however, the preponderance of witness statements were that the airplane was flying north on the east side of Pennsylvania State Route 58, and seemed to make a circle to the left at approximately 500 feet above ground level (agl). It was next observed to travel in a westerly direction, fly across Route 58 and make another turn to the left with the engine "revving up and down" and losing altitude. When it reached approximately 50-feet agl, heading east, the airplane rolled wings level and impacted a cornfield and a fireball erupted.

File Photo

The pilot held a private pilot certificate, with a rating for airplane single engine land. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on March 14, 2006. According to his pilot logbook, he had accrued 221.4 total hours of flight experience.

The experimental amateur-built airplane, was a four place, low wing monoplane. It was equipped with a non-certificated Eggenfellner E6T/220, water cooled, fuel injected, turbo-charged, 220 horsepower, six cylinder engine.

The airplane was equipped with a 4-blade, in-flight adjustable, constant speed propeller. Examinations of the blade surfaces indicated that the blades were not in rotation at time of impact. The electric pitch control motor end bell and exterior nylon slide exhibited severe melting. The blade retention nuts were also found tightened approximately 1/4 inch tighter than the index marks scribed on the hub. This however, did not appear to affect the pitch rotation friction. Disassembly of the propeller hub revealed that the pitch motor gearbox was intact and immobile, (as designed) and held the last pitch angle selected when under no electrical load. Examination of the blade shank assemblies, bearings, and pitch slide assembly revealed no anomalies, and measurements of the propeller pitch setting corresponded to a high pitch (cruise) setting. Examination of the propeller controller revealed that it was not the propeller controller that was manufactured by the propeller manufacturer.

Examination of the remains of the electrical system revealed that the batteries and contact relays had been exposed to the post impact fire. Multiple wires showed no evidence of having being connected prior to impact. Examination of the cabling connected to the electrical system's contactor relays, revealed that a cable was not secured to its corresponding terminal on the contactor relay."

The report indicates that the variable-pitch system needed consistent current from the electrical system. It also contains a lengthy recounting of e-mails and conversations the builder had with friends and other builders of the aircraft. Several modifications had been completed or planned, and some witnesses noted the builders impatience with the time it was taking to get the project completed. He was also apparently unfamiliar with the operation of the EFIS installed in the airplane, and examination of the pilot's logbook revealed no evidence of the training required by the FAA for operation of an airplane with an engine of more than 200 horsepower. Examination of the airplane's maintenance logbook revealed that on July 10, 2007, the FAA issued a special airworthiness certificate allowing operation of the airplane.

File Photo

There is far too much to re-cap here. A reading of the report from the NTSB should be instructive to all builders about taking care to follow procedures and have some patience. Flying your airplane is not the place to discover you should have read the manual.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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