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On November 14, 2002, at 1734 eastern standard time, a Cessna 210L, N2444S, was destroyed during a forced landing and collision with terrain while on approach to the Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC), Rochester, New York. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed for the flight that departed the Allegheny County Airport (AGC), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The business flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
According to the pilot's sister, the airplane was based at ROC, and on the morning of the accident, the pilot departed ROC and flew to AGC to meet with a prospective client in furtherance of his software business.
Review of air traffic control (ATC) information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the pilot departed AGC about 1625, and contacted the ROC ATC tower at 1731:39, to report he was on a "high left base" to land on runway 25. The airplane was cleared to land; however, at 1733:43, the pilot reported he lost engine power and was "looking for a good spot to land." At 1734:14, the pilot said "we got power we just can't... ah pump it up..." and then advised he was going to crash. Less than five seconds later, controllers heard the sound of an emergency locator transmitter.
Several witnesses observed the airplane flying very low and descending. Some witnesses reported nothing unusual regarding the sound of the airplane's engine; however, other witnesses reported the engine was "running rough," "cutting in-and-out," or "quiet." The airplane was observed to strike a fence, impact the ground, and burst into flames.
The accident occurred during the hours of darkness, and was located at approximately 43 degrees, 7 minutes north latitude, and 77 degrees, 37 minutes west longitude.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate, with an instrument rating for single engine land airplanes. The pilot's logbook was not recovered. He reported 1,100 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for an FAA third class medical certificate, which was issued on July 20, 2001.
The airplane's maintenance logbooks were not located. Review of recent work orders revealed that on October 24, 2002, the pilot reported that the alternator was inoperative. The alternator was removed, tested, and re-installed without any discrepancies noted. On October 28, 2002, maintenance personnel removed and replaced the airplane's voltage regulator.
A work order indicated that the airplane had undergone an annual inspection on February 2, 2002. It was estimated that the airplane had been operated for about 110 hours since the annual inspection.
The weather reported at ROC, at 1754, was: winds from 240 at 6 knots; visibility 10 statue miles; ceiling 8,000 feet broken, 9,500 feet overcast; temperature 55 degrees F; dew point 39 degrees F; altimeter 29.84 in/hg.
A ground scar was located on a berm about 90 feet from a damaged fence, on a magnetic heading of about 280 degrees. The airplane came to rest in a field about 1.5 miles from ROC, on a magnetic heading of 60 degrees.
All major portions of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. With the exception of a 8-foot, 6-inch section of the empennage, and the outboard 7-feet of both wings, the entire airplane was consumed by a post crash fire. The rudder and left horizontal stabilizer were not damaged. The right horizontal stabilizer sustained impact damage and outboard half of the right elevator was separated. Flight control continuity was confirmed from all primary flight control surfaces to the cabin area. The landing gear was determined to be in the extended position. Measurement of the airplane's flap actuator jackscrew corresponded to a retracted flap position.
Both the right and left wing integral fuel tanks were consumed by fire. The forward and aft right fuel tank outlet screens were observed and absent of debris. The left fuel tank outlet screens were not observed due to impact/fire damage. Both fuel tank caps were vented and both fuel tank vent lines were clear.
The engine sustained fire damage and remained attached to the fuselage via linkages and cables. The 3-bladed propeller remained attached to the engine. One blade was melted to a point 10 inches from the hub. A second propeller blade was melted to a point 23 inches from the hub. The third blade was intact, partially separated from the hub, and bent rearward underneath the engine. The blade did not contain any leading edge gouges or chordwise scratches. The engine was removed from the accident site and examined in a hangar at ROC. The engine was rotated via an accessory drive gear. Valve train continuity and thumb compression was attained on all cylinders. The top spark plugs were removed. Their electrodes were intact and light gray in color.
The oil filter was removed and cut open. The filter element was charred and dry; however, it did not contain any metallic debris.
The engine was retained for further examination.
With the exception of the fuel return line, all hoses to the engine driven fuel pump were destroyed. The engine driven fuel pump was removed and it's drive coupling was intact. The fuel metering unit was partially melted; however, all hoses remained attached. The fuel inlet screen was absent of debris. The fuel/air intake was melted, which exposed the throttle valve. Examination of the fuel manifold revealed the manifold spring was in place, the diaphragm was melted, and the screen was intact.
The fuel selector was determined to be in the left fuel tank position. The fuel line was intact from the fuel selector, through the electric fuel pump, to the fire wall. The airframe fuel filter was not recovered. The electric fuel pump contained about a teaspoon of liquid; which was not consistent with fuel.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on November 15, 2002, by the State of New York, Monroe County Medical Examiners Office.
Toxicological testing was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
On March 18, 2002, the engine was examined at Teledyne Mattituck, Mattituck, New York, under the supervision the Safety Board Investigator. A complete teardown of the engine did not reveal evidence of any catastrophic mechanical failures. Both magneto’s were disassembled and internally fire damaged. The electric fuel pump rotated when connected to a 24-volt power source.
A parking lot surveillance video camera recorded the accident. The airplane appeared across the upper portion of the picture and was observed to strike the ground, cart-wheel, and burst into flames.
According to refueling records, the airplane was "topped-off" with 32 gallons of 100 low-lead aviation gasoline prior to departing AGC. During an interview, the lineman who performed the refueling said that approximately 42 aircraft were re-fueled from the same fuel truck, which included 14 aircraft after the accident airplane. He was not aware of any pilots reporting a fuel related problem. In addition, post accident fuel samples taken from the fuel truck nozzle, filter and sump, were absent of contaminates.
The airplane wreckage was released on March 27, 2003, to a representative of the owner's insurance company.