NTSB Identification: ERA12FA006
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 05, 2011 in Hedgesville, WV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/07/2014
Aircraft: HARRY L. WEBER ARION LI, registration: N747HW
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
Several witnesses reported that, shortly after takeoff, when the airplane was about 15 feet above ground level, it suddenly pitched up about 45 degrees, stalled, and then came to rest against a residence near the turf runway. GPS data were consistent with the witness reports. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no mechanical malfunctions or abnormalities that would have precluded normal operation.
The pilot's medical records revealed that he had hypertension and a pacemaker, and that, about 8 months before the accident, the pacemaker was upgraded to a combination pacemaker/Automatic Internal Cardiac Defibrillator (AICD). Medical records revealed that the pilot was using medications to treat hypertension, moderate-to-severe congestive heart failure, recurrent ventricular arrhythmias, and atrial fibrillation. Toxicology testing confirmed the presence of such medications in the pilot’s body. Given the postmortem examination, reported medication use, and the upgrade to a pacemaker/AICD, it is likely that the pilot had experienced a serious arrhythmia and severe congestive heart failure some time before the accident. Although the exact degree of premortem cardiac dysfunction could not be determined, the presence of the AICD indicated that the pilot’s doctors had identified a significantly elevated risk of sudden cardiac death. Although an AICD reduces the risk of sudden death from tachyarrhythmia, it does not reduce the risk of a sudden death from other cardiac-related causes. Federal regulations only require a valid driver's license to exercise the privileges of a sport pilot certificate in a light-sport aircraft as long as pilots are not aware of any medical condition that would make them unable to operate a light-sport aircraft safely. However, the pilot most likely did not have sufficient knowledge to accurately assess the aviation safety risks associated with his condition. It is likely that the pilot’s underlying cardiac disease caused an acute medical event, which led to his loss of control of the airplane and the subsequent aerodynamic stall at low altitude and collision with terrain.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: An aerodynamic stall at low altitude due to the pilot’s acute cardiac event.
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