NTSB Identification: SEA00LA079.
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Accident occurred Monday, May 01, 2000 in SALEM, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/04/2000
Aircraft: MORTON CHRISTAVIA MARK I, registration: N1143L
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot/builder of the kitplane took off from runway 13 on the aircraft's initial test flight and immediately encountered a nose heavy condition. He declared an emergency and maneuvered to land on runway 34. He reported that during his approach the aircraft was controllable as long as power was applied, but on short final he instinctively reduced power and the nose of the aircraft abruptly pitched down. The aircraft then impacted the ground and slid up onto the runway. The center of gravity range limits had been calculated by the pilot/builder as between 10.5 to 19.5 inches with the aircraft's empty weight CG at 11.0 inches. Following the calculations, the pilot/builder changed the aircraft's battery (located forward of the cockpit) which added 7 pounds, and added a new engine exhaust system adding 2-3 additional pounds. A new CG was not calculated. Center of gravity calculations based on the earlier weight/CG of the aircraft, including the weight of the pilot and the 96 pounds of fuel also placed the CG 0.5 inch forward of the old forward limit.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot/builder's failure to correct the center of gravity computations after a weight increase. A contributing factor was the pilot/builder's exceeding the forward CG limit in fuel weight, of which both conditions resulted in a degradation of aircraft control.

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