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On June 18, 2000, at 1636 eastern standard time, a Bellanca 7ECA, N1195E, piloted by a commercial pilot, sustained substantial damage during an in-flight collision with a tree and the terrain. The pilot was executing a forced landing following a loss of engine power during initial climb from runway 36 (3,000 feet by 100 feet, dry/turf) at the Westfield Airport, Westfield, Indiana. Visual metrological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured and his single passenger sustained serious injuries. The flight was departing at the time of the accident and had a destination of Sheridan Airport, Sheridan, Indiana.
Witnesses to the accident said that the aircraft was in a shallow, slow, climb, when it crossed the departure-end of runway 36. The witnesses said that when the airplane crossed the departure-end of the runway it was approximately 150 feet above ground level (agl) when the engine ceased to operate. Subsequent to the loss of engine power, the aircraft was witnessed to start a left turn back towards the departure airport. The witnesses reported that while the airplane was maneuvering back to the airport the nose of the aircraft dropped and the aircraft impacted the tree and the terrain. One of the witnesses reported in a written statement, "The engine totally stopped and it [the airplane] spiraled around and nosed dived straight to the ground."
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector interviewed the passenger concerning the circumstances of the accident. According to the FAA inspector's written record of the interview, the pilot and the passenger washed the airplane prior to the accident flight. The passenger stated that after they had washed the airplane the pilot conducted a preflight inspection. The passenger reported that he did not have any further recollection of the accident flight.
According to FAA records, the pilot was the holder of a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and sea, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument airplane operations. FAA records show the pilot's last medical examination date was January 10, 2000, and the pilot was issued a second-class medical certificate with the limitation, "Must wear corrective lenses for distant vision and glasses for near and intermediate vision".
According to the pilot's flight records, he had accumulated a total time of 2,764.80 flight hours as of the last flight entry, dated April 16, 2000. As of the last flight entry, the pilot had logged 1,073.70 hours of flight time in single-engine airplanes and 1,691.10 hours in multiengine airplanes. According to the pilot's flight records, he had flown a total of 29.5 flight hours within the last year, all of which was in a Cessna 310 multiengine airplane. The pilot logged 15.7 flight hours within 90-days of the accident. The pilot completed his last biennial flight review on February 9, 1999, and the flight portion of the flight review was conducted in a Cessna 310.
The aircraft was a Bellanca 7ECA, N1195E, serial number 1218-77. The Bellanca 7ECA is a production built, dual strutted high-wing airplane consisting of a fabric covered steel-tube fuselage and a fabric covered wing. The Bellanca 7ECA has a fixed landing gear and can accommodate a pilot and a single passenger in a tandem seating arrangement. The FAA issued the airplane a Standard Airworthiness Certificate on June 14, 1977, and the airplane was certificated for both normal and utility categories. The airplane had accumulated a total-time of 2,628.23 hours at the time of the accident. The last annual inspection was completed on March 22, 2000, at 2,618.00 hours. According to the aircraft maintenance logbooks, all applicable FAA Airworthiness Directives were complied with at the completion of the last annual inspection.
The engine was a 115-horsepower Avco Lycoming, O-235-C1, serial number L-13180-15, and at the time of the accident had accumulated 2,628.23 total hours since new. The engine had accumulated 1,184.23 since the last major overhaul, which was completed on December 5, 1983.
The propeller was a McCauley, 1C90ALM-7246, serial number MJ033, and at the time of the accident had accumulated 310.10 hours since new.
A weather observation station, located at the Eagle Creek Airpark Airport (EYE), 15 nautical miles (nm) northwest of the accident site, reported the weather five minutes after the accident as:
Observation Time: 1641 est
Wind: 070-degrees at 6 knots
Visibility: 10 statute miles
Sky Condition: Scattered clouds at 2,400 agl, Scattered clouds at 2,900 agl
Temperature: 21-degrees centigrade
Dew Point: 16-degrees centigrade
Pressure: 30.13 inches of mercury
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) on-scene investigation began on June 19, 2000.
The accident site was located near the intersection of 186th Street and Dartown Road in Westfield, Indiana. The airplane impacted a tree that was located adjacent to an access road that lead to nearby houses. The heading of the aircraft wreckage was measured with a compass along the aircraft's longitudinal axis and was approximately 045-degrees magnetic. All components of the aircraft were located at the accident site and all flight control surfaces remained attached at their respective airframe positions. Aileron, elevator, and rudder control continuity was established from the individual control surfaces to their respective control-input locations. A total of seven gallons of a fluid, consistent in color and smell to 100 low-lead aviation fuel, was drained from the two wing fuel tanks. Fuel was found in the lines leading to and from the fuel selector and the gascolator was full of fuel. Fuel samples collected from the wing tanks and the gascolator did not contain any sediment or water contamination.
The scat-ducting that provided air to the heat-muff was obstructed by two pieces of foam inserted into the inlets, located on the lower engine cowl. The carburetor heat selection lever was found in the full aft position. The full aft position of the lever would correspond to a maximum carburetor heat selection.
The engine remained attached to the engine mounts and to the firewall. The engine was displaced downward and to the right with the firewall impacted up against the engine accessory section. Crankshaft continuity was established by rotating the crankshaft at the propeller flange. Valve train continuity was established and there was compression and suction on all cylinders when engine crankshaft was rotated. Both the left and right magnetos produced spark on all leads when rotated by hand. The upper and lower spark plugs were removed and their electrodes and ceramics were dark-gray in color. Fuel was found in the carburetor bowl and the inlet fuel screen was clear of debris.
The propeller remained partially attached to the engine propeller flange with one blade completely buried in the terrain. The propeller blades had minor damage.
No additional anomalies were found with the airframe, engine, or propeller that could be associated to any pre-impact condition.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Mid America Clinical Laboratories, Indianapolis, Indiana, on June 19, 2000.
A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The toxicology results for the pilot were:
* No Carbon Monoxide detected in Blood
* No Cyanide detected in Blood
* No Ethanol detected in Urine
* No Drugs detected in Urine
TESTS AND RESEARCH
According to a carburetor icing probability chart, derived by Transport Canada, the air temperature and dewpoint at the time of the accident had the potential of producing moderate icing at cruise power and serious icing at descent power. A copy of the carburetor icing probability chart is attached to this factual report.
FAA publication FAA-P-8740-4A, entitled "SAFETY GUIDE FOR PRIVATE AIRCRAFT OWNERS", states, "The responsibility for determining that the aircraft is in safe condition for flight rests with the pilot. A very important part of the responsibility is the preflight inspection of the aircraft. Flight with an improperly inspected and serviced aircraft can result in an inflight emergency that could cause anxious moments for the pilot and passengers, and possibly terminate in a serious accident. There is no substitute for a thorough preflight inspection." A copy of FAA-P-8740-4A is attached to this factual report.
FAA publication FAA-P-8740-44, entitled "Impossible Turn", states that, "Turning back is the worst possible action when the powerplant fails during climbout in a single [single engine airplane]." A copy of FAA-P-8740-44 is attached to this factual report.
ADDITIONAL DATA & INFORMATION
Parties to the investigation included the Federal Aviation Administration and Textron-Lycoming.
The wreckage was released to a representative of the Hamilton County Sheriff Department on June 19, 2000.