NTSB Identification: WPR09LA075
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 06, 2009 in Casa Grande, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/15/2009
Aircraft: Czech Aircraft Works Sport Cruiser, registration: N797BS
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 pilot followed the manufacturer’s before-takeoff checklist, but failed to ensure that the canopy was latched prior to takeoff. The canopy of the Special Light Sport category airplane popped open during the initial climb, about 500 feet above ground. The canopy is hinged in front of the cockpit and rotates upward when open. The pilot said that he tried to keep the canopy closed with his free hand but the canopy continued to rise higher and higher. The pilot turned back to the airport and made an off-field landing. Inspection of the canopy latch mechanism revealed no mechanical anomalies, and the canopy latch hooks aligned with the canopy frame latch slots. When the airplane is static, the canopy will remain in the closed position with the canopy lever in the ‘open’ (unlatched) position. By design the canopy latch lever is positioned behind the pilot’s right elbow, and not in direct view when looking forward or at the instrument panel. The manufacturer does not provide a ‘canopy unlatched’ warning device, and the Pilot Operating Handbook does not include a checklist step to check that the canopy is latched. It also it does not provide procedures for the pilot to execute if the canopy is unlatched or becomes unlatched in flight. The ASTM standard that guides Light Sport Aircraft design does not address canopy latching/locking systems or the associated Pilot Operating Handbook information.

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

The pilot's failure to ensure that the canopy was latched prior to takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the inadequate guidance in the Pilot Operating Handbook regarding canopy procedures.

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