NTSB Identification: ERA13LA183
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, March 29, 2013 in Collegedale, TN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/30/2014
Aircraft: ANDREWS ZODIAC, registration: N999NA
Injuries: 1 Fatal,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 had recently purchased the experimental amateur-built airplane and was not familiar with it. The flight instructor reported that, before the pilot's first instructional flight in the airplane, they were unable to start the engine. The pilot unlatched and raised the canopy to call for assistance from ground personnel. As the ground person started to attach the battery charger to the engine, the pilot unbuckled his seatbelt to assist; however, the ground person told the pilot that he did not need to get out of the airplane. The pilot then hastily attempted to refasten his seatbelt, and the pilots lowered the canopy. The flight instructor stated that the canopy appeared to be flush with the fuselage and latched properly; however, about 9 minutes into the flight, the canopy opened, and the airplane entered a negative G dive, at which point, the pilot was pulled out of his seat and the airplane. The flight instructor remained in his seat with the seatbelt fastened and landed the airplane uneventfully. Examination of the pilot's seatbelt and the canopy latch did not reveal any malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Therefore, it is likely that the pilots did not latch the canopy properly before takeoff and that the pilot did not properly fasten his seatbelt, which allowed him to be pulled from the airplane due to the high G forces after the canopy opened in flight.

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

The pilot's failure to ensure that his seatbelt was fastened and the pilots' failure to ensure that the canopy was latched properly, which resulted in the pilot's ejection from the cockpit following the opening of the canopy and the subsequent in-flight upset.

Full narrative available

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