NTSB Identification: CHI05LA082.
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Accident occurred Sunday, March 27, 2005 in Iowa City, IA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/28/2006
Aircraft: Matthews Christen Eagle II, registration: N85SM
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The aerobatic experimental amateur-built biplane was destroyed on impact with terrain following an in-flight loss of control while aerobatically maneuvering. The private pilot and commercial pilot, certificated front seat occupant were fatally injured. A witness stated, "As it passed overhead it did a barrel roll, left wing down first ... 1 ½ rolls ending up upside down for several seconds. While the plane was upside down we noticed the plane rotating around its center point. It lost altitude and stayed stalled." On-scene examination of the wreckage revealed no pre-impact anomalies. Clear skies and light surface winds existed at the time of the accident. The Civil Aeromedical Institute's Final Forensic Toxicology Accident Report for the front seat pilot rated occupant stated, "58.08 (ug/ml, ug/g) ACETAMINOPHEN detected in Urine, ACETAMINOPHEN NOT detected in Blood." The pilots were found not wearing parachutes. FAA regulation 91.307 Parachutes and parachuting, in-part, stated, "(c) Unless each occupant of the aircraft is wearing an approved parachute, no pilot of a civil aircraft carrying any person (other than a crewmember) may execute any intentional maneuver that exceeds- (1) A bank of 60 degrees relative to the horizon; or (2) A nose-up or nose-down attitude of 30 degrees relative to the horizon." The pilots sustained similar injuries to their right upper extremities. With the available evidence it was not possible to conclusively determine that either pilot was actually holding the controls at the time of impact. Weight and balance calculations showed the airplane's center of gravity exceeded the airplane's published aft center of gravity limit.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot not maintaining airplane control and airspeed, and the stall/spin encountered during aerobatic maneuvering. A factor in the accident was the pilot exceeding the published airplane's aft center of gravity limit and a factor in the pilot rated occupant's fatal injury was approved personal parachutes not being worn during aerobatics as required by regulation. Full narrative available
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