On November 29, 2001, about 1338 eastern standard time, a Grumman American Aviation Corporation AA-1C, N9515U, registered to a private individual, crashed on the Pompano Beach Airpark, Pompano Beach, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was substantially damaged and the commercial-rated pilot and a pilot-rated passenger were seriously injured. The flight originated approximately 1300 local from the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (KFXE), Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The left seat occupant stated that the purpose of the flight was for the right seat occupant to demonstrate the airplane to him as he was not familiar with the airplane and had not flown the accident make and model airplane before. He intended on flying with the airplane owner in the future and owns a Grumman AA-5 airplane; he has accumulated approximately 150 hours in that make and model aircraft. Fueling was requested by the right seat occupant who performed a preflight of the airplane which included checking the fuel tanks for contaminants. There was no formal written agreement between himself and the right front seat occupant as to who would be pilot-in-command, but he assumed the right seat occupant was the pilot-in-command. He did not recall any discrepancies related to the engine during the engine run-up before takeoff. The flight departed from KFXE, and both he and the right front seat occupant flew the airplane at various times during the flight. The flight then proceeded to the Pompano Beach Airpark Airport (KPMP) where a full-stop landing was performed. The flight taxied back and departed remaining in the traffic pattern where two touch-and-go landings were performed utilizing the checklist. He performed the first touch-and-go landing, and the right seat occupant performed the second touch-and-go landing. He recalled flaps being extended for the approach of the second touch-and-go landing, but was not sure if carburetor heat was required. During the climbout following the second touch-and-go landing, the engine began to run rough at 200 feet. He advised the right seat occupant of the situation but the passenger appeared "frozen" and did not respond. He took the controls and as the engine was developing some power, intended to return to KPMP as there was no suitable landing area ahead. He reported making a shallow bank and intended on rolling wings level and landing straight ahead if the engine quit. The next thing he recalled was that the airplane had crashed. He also reported, "At some point between the time the engine started to run rough and the time it crashed, I was definitely flying the airplane."
The pilot-rated right seat occupant was interviewed in the hospital the day after the accident. He reported going along on the flight with the left seat occupant who had not flown the airplane in some time and wanted someone to go along who had flown the airplane recently. He was present when the airplane was fueled and believes before fueling that both forward tanks were 1/3 full. Eight gallons of fuel were added a side into the forward fuel filler port of each wing; the left tank was topped off. The preflight was performed by the left seat occupant who was pilot-in-command of the flight. He (right seat occupant) walked around while the preflight was being performed but didn't watch closely; the preflight appeared to be OK. All six fuel drains were checked during the preflight by the left seat occupant, though he did not look while the fuel sampling was performed. The flight departed from KFXE, and proceeded to the northwest practice area where slow flight was performed. The flight then proceeded to KPMP to perform touch-and-go landings. He initially stated that on the third or fourth touch-and-go landing before departing for KFXE, he believes the engine lost power but was not certain of this. He later reported that he believed the accident occurred on the last touch-and-go landing at KPMP, he "never" touched the controls at any time during the flight, and there was no written agreement before the flight as to who was pilot-in-command.
An air traffic control specialist with Pompano Beach Federal Contract Tower reported that he observed the airplane during the climbout after the second touch-and-go landing. He reported that when the airplane was over the departure end of the runway at about 200 feet, "the aircraft's wings rocked." He noted that the airplane made a "sharp right turn" and crashed southeast of the approach end of runway 33. Another controller reported seeing the airplane, "...rocking slightly on the upwind for [runway] 10. He then made a right turn what looked like he was trying to land on runway 33. He went nose in off the approach end of runway 33." Copy of the personnel statements are an attachment to this report.
Examination of the accident site by an FAA inspector revealed the fuselage was inverted and was laying on the structurally separated left wing which was upright (see photographs 1-4). The fuel selector was found positioned near the" left" tank though no placard was noted adjacent to the fuel selector valve (see photograph 5). The nose landing gear was separated from the airplane which was recovered to a hangar on the airport.
Initial examination of the wreckage the day after the accident by the NTSB revealed both wings and the left main landing gear were separated. Fuel stains were noted on the hangar floor beneath the left wing resting location and also beneath the right wing root area. No fuel was found in the forward fuel sump drain of the left wing; the airplane was in a left wing low attitude. Approximately 1/4 to 1/2 ounce of fuel was drained from the forward and aft fuel sump drains of the right wing; a slight amount of water was detected in each sample when tested using water finding paste. A compression wrinkle was noted on the right side of the empennage near the emergency locator transmitter antenna location. Cursory examination of the engine revealed that the mixture and throttle controls were connected at the carburetor (see photograph 6); the mixture was full rich and the throttle was 3/8 inch from wide open. The oil dipstick was tightly secured and was indicating 4.25 quarts; no oil stains were noted in the engine compartment area.
Examination of the airplane on December 19, 2001, by NTSB and a representative of the engine manufacturer revealed a wooden plug was noted in a vent line in the wingtip area of the right wing. A rubber plug was noted in a crimped aluminum fuel line at the wing root area of the right wing associated with the aft fuel tank. The carburetor heat control was found in the midrange position; however, impact damage was noted to the airbox. The carburetor heat control cable was not attached to the control arm at the airbox (see photograph 7). An AN type bolt with a hole in the grip area of the bolt was used to secure the carburetor heat control cable to the control arm (see photograph 8). Examination of the carburetor heat control cable revealed the cable was kinked near the end (see photograph 9). With the bolt still in place in the control arm of the airbox, the cable was pushed with hand pressure through the hole in the grip area of the bolt. The kinked area of the cable could not be pushed through the hole in the grip area of the AN bolt used to secure the cable. Examination of the fuel vent system for both sides revealed no obstructions from the fuel vent fitting under the wing into the fuel tanks; no determination was made as to whether there were any obstructions of the vent lines for the fuel gauges in the cockpit. No obstructions were noted from the fuel supply lines of both fuel tanks of each wing to the wing root area, then forward through the fuel selector valve to the engine compartment area. No fuel was found at the outlets of the auxiliary fuel pump or the engine driven fuel pump. Approximately one ounce of fuel was drained from the inlet hose to the carburetor. No fuel was found in the carburetor bowl. An unknown quantity of fuel was observed in both fuel tanks of both wings. The fuel selector was found positioned near the left tank detent; slight damage was noted to the structure securing the valve. The magneto switch operationally checked good and the muffler was free of obstructions. One propeller blade was not damaged while the other blade was bent aft approximately 70 degrees. The carburetor fuel inlet screen was clean. Examination of the flight controls revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. The engine was removed from the airplane, placed on a test stand, and a test club propeller was installed.
The engine was started and operated to approximately 2,800 rpm using only the engine driven fuel pump; no discrepancies were noted during the engine run (see photographs 10 and 11). The magnetos were properly timed to the engine and checked during the engine run; the rpm decreased approximately 100 rpm when performing each magneto check. No hesitation was noted with throttle application from idle to full power. The ignition leads were tested with a high tension tester, no discrepancies were noted. Following the engine run, differential compression of each cylinder was performed using 80 psi as a base, all cylinders were greater than 70 psi.
According to the Pompano Beach Fire Department Incident Report, four stations responded to the accident site. Station 24, which is located on the southeast corner of the airport did not respond. The incident report also indicates that, "...stopped gas leak with plugs...", and, "...Mr. Louis stated to medic Robiou that Mr. Piper was in control of plane...." A copy of the incident report is an attachment to this report.
The airplane was fueled at 1250 hours on the day of the accident, a total of 12.4 gallons were added (a copy of the fuel invoice is an attachment to this report). According to the person who fueled the airplane (fueler), the person who was identified as being the right seat occupant requested that 7 gallons of fuel be added to each wing. The fueler reported fuel was added to the forward fuel tank filler openings of both wings and that the left forward tank was topped off before reaching the requested 7 gallons a side.
A fuel sample was taken for testing from the fuel truck that fueled the airplane, the results indicate that the sample met specification for 100 low lead fuel. A copy of the fuel analysis is an attachment to this report.
Review of the maintenance records revealed the airplane received an annual inspection on November 8, 2001, "...[in accordance with] GAAC service manuals and inspection instructions." At that time, the fuel vent lines were replaced and an extended range fuel system was installed in accordance with (IAW) a supplemental type certificate. Additionally, the cylinders were removed for resurfacing and the camshaft was replaced. The engine was reassembled IAW the engine manufacturer factory overhaul manual. The airplane had accumulated approximately 4 hours since the inspection at the time of the accident. Excerpts from the maintenance records are an attachment to this report.
According to the airplane maintenance manual, the carburetor heat control cable is secured to the control arm in part by a "swivel assembly." The manual also indicates to attach and bend the carburetor heat control cable wire, tighten clamp and install the cotter pin. Excerpts from the maintenance manual are an attachment to this report.
The airplane minus the retained Electronics International, Inc., fuel flow/pressure gauge and the retained maintenance records were released to Craig Walker, President of Marco Flite Services, Inc., on January 23, 2002. The retained fuel flow/pressure gauge and the maintenance records were also released to Craig Walker, on July 2, 2002.