NTSB Identification: ERA12LA184
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, February 17, 2012 in Fayetteville, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2013
Aircraft: MOONEY AIRPLANE CO INC M20TN, registration: N118RZ
Injuries: 1 Serious,1 Minor.

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 was in the traffic pattern for landing and was informed by the tower air traffic controller that there was a large airplane (Gulfstream) at his one o'clock position on a 5-mile final approach. The accident pilot replied at 17:27:19, "I see the gulfstream ah gulfstream on the final." A 5.72-mile separation was noted on the controller’s radar screen at that time. At 17:27:24, the approach controller informed the accident airplane, which was at 2,500 feet, "caution wake turbulence" and instructed the pilot to contact the tower. The accident airplane was cleared to land on runway 4 by the controller at 17:27:54. The pilot acknowledged the transmission. The tower controller informed the accident pilot, “caution wake turbulence from the gulfstream" at 17:29:09. The response from the accident airplane was unintelligible. The pilot stated he encountered wake turbulence from the Gulfstream that landed ahead of him and lost airplane control. A witness observed the airplane about 8 feet over the runway when it stalled and landed hard. The pilot applied full engine power and attempted a go-around. The airplane drifted to the left toward an airplane parking ramp, struck a light pole, and spun around, coming to rest in a grass area past the parking ramp.

The required separation in accordance with FAA regulations was 4 miles. It stated that a pilot landing a smaller airplane behind a larger airplane on the same runway should stay above the larger airplane’s final approach path and land beyond it to avoid an encounter with wake turbulence. The pilot had contacted the tower controller, after a handoff from the approach controller, and was cautioned again about wake turbulence. It is likely that the pilot did not land beyond the Gulfstream's touchdown point, and the airplane encountered wake turbulence, which led to the runway excursion and on-ground collision with a pole. The pilot stated he did not experience any mechanical problems with the airplane before the accident.

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

The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate separation behind a large airplane during landing, which resulted in an encounter with wake turbulence and a loss of control.

Full narrative available

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