MIA00LA226
MIA00LA226

On July 20, 2000, about 0930 eastern daylight time, a Cessna A188B, N731CH, registered to a private individual, operating as a Title 14 CFR Part 137 aerial application flight, crashed into trees on takeoff in the vicinity of Statesboro, Georgia. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane received substantial damage and the commercially-rated pilot, the sole occupant, received minor injuries. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

According to the pilot/operator, the airplane, "seemed to have a reduction of power and did not have enough power to get over the trees 400 ft. from end of runway", and despite his dumping the full hopper load, (estimated at 140 gallons) the airplane collided with the trees. He was departing in a westerly direction from his private 2,000-foot grass airstrip. An easterly takeoff is preferred because of an approximate 3 percent downward runway slope and no trees in the takeoff path. The pilot stated his decision criteria for a westerly departure is 8 knots or greater of surface wind from a westerly direction. He added that he performed a fuel contamination check on his preflight inspection and his pretakeoff engine run-up "checked out fine".

According to an FAA inspector, the actual liftoff was so close to the end of the strip that the tail wheel caught the top strand of a barbed wire fence at the end of the runway. He stated that the pilot told him the engine seemed not to have enough power to clear the trees, although he felt or heard no perceptible loss of engine power. The chemical load was dumped, but not in time to avoid hitting the trees, which are approximately 500 feet from the end of the runway. The aircraft came to rest nose down in the trees.

According to copies of the aircraft maintenance records, the Teledyne Continental (TCM) IO-520-D engine, serial number 293286-R, had accumulated 546.1 hours since a factory remanufacture and was installed on N731CH about 26 hours prior to the accident on June 5, 2000. As part of an annual inspection on that date, the engine logs revealed that the compression checked 73/80 psi or better for all six cylinders, the magneto timing was checked, and the fuel strainer was checked. The post installation test run was signed off as, "all normal".

The 0953 winds reported by Savannah, the closest reporting station at 35 nautical miles from the accident site, was 250 to 320 degrees, (variable) at 8 knots. The temperature and pressure reported for the period was 93 degrees F and 29.88 inches Hg. The density altitude computation for the runway for those conditions is about 2,520 feet, and the pressure altitude is 223 feet.

The TCM engine, serial number 293286-R was shipped to the TCM factory, Mobile, Alabama, and underwent disassembly examination for possible detection of a cause for the symptoms reported by the accident pilot. According to the TCM report, "This engine exhibited normal operational signatures throughout. All internal components appeared well lubricated. This engine did not exhibit any condition that would have caused an operational problem." Both magnetos were functionally tested and produced a bright spark across a 7 MM spark gap. The throttle metering unit, manifold valve, fuel lines, and nozzles were flow tested satisfactorily. The TCM report is an attachment to this report.

According to the 1977 Cessna A188B, AgTruck pilot owners handbook, (POH) the aircraft must be operated in the restricted category whenever it is operated above 3,300 lbs. or with special agricultural equipment. Performance data is limited for operations under the restricted category. Section 4, (Operating Limitations) of the POH contains the following cautionary verbiage with respect to operating in the restricted category, (1) "The adverse effect of soft runways and long grass can only be determined by a series of takeoffs at increasing gross weights on a trial basis", (2) "Conditions of high temperature, high altitude, rough takeoff surfaces, and terrain clearances at the end of the runway should obviously be taken into account in judging the proper takeoff gross weight of this aircraft", (3) "When agricultural equipment is installed, the takeoff ground run will not be effected significantly, but the air distance over an obstacle will be increased appreciably". Takeoff performance data is limited to one chart labeled, "Takeoff Distance with Dispersal Equipment", using the following conditions for its use; sea level, standard atmospheric conditions, zero wind, hard surface, level runway, with flaps 10 degrees. There are no adjustments shown for computing takeoff distances using other than these conditions.

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