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On November 13, 2002, at 1305 Pacific standard time, a Beech A36TC, N32FW, sustained substantial damage following a loss of engine power and collision with terrain approximately 1,425-feet beyond the departure end of runway 31 at the Calaveras County-Rasmussen Airport, San Andreas, California. The airplane was owned by the pilot, and was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) personal/pleasure fight under the provisions of Title 14, CFR Part 91. The private pilot and pilot rated passenger were killed; a second passenger, seated in the forward facing aft seat, sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight. The pilot's planned destination was Palo Alto, California.
A witness (certified pilot) reported that the airplane's initial takeoff appeared normal, however, shortly thereafter he heard a popping sound from the airplane and then total silence. He reported that the airplane entered a shallow descending turn to the right (east) and that he eventually lost sight of the airplane when it descended behind a series of hangars. Shortly after losing sight of the airplane, the witness heard what he described as the sounds of impact.
A second witness, also located at the airport, reported that he heard the airplane takeoff. He reported that nothing was unusual with the sound of the engine during the takeoff roll, however, after reaching approximately 300 feet above ground level (AGL), he heard a loud "pop" emanating from the airplane, followed by what he described as the engine quitting.
The sole survivor of the accident, who was seated in the furthest aft forward facing seat, stated that he recalls the airplane's takeoff and climb, but was unable to verify any of the detailed events prior to the airplane impacting terrain.
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at 38 degrees, 9.24 minutes north latitude; 120 degrees, 39.13 minutes west longitude.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land, instrument airplane and helicopter ratings. On his most current FAA medical application, dated May 14, 2001, the pilot indicated that he had accumulated approximately 4,650 total flight hours, including approximately 35 hours in the six months preceding the application date.
Additional medical records obtained from the FAA disclosed that the pilot-in-command held a third class medical certificate, dated May 14, 2001. The medical certificate carried a restriction requiring the pilot to wear corrective lenses.
Logbook records indicated that the pilot completed an instrument competency check on March 25, 2001. The logbook records were incomplete and a total flight time, as well as breakdown of flight time through the date of the accident, was not determined.
The accident airplane, a 1979 A-36 TC Bonanza (serial number EA-16), was issued a utility category airworthiness certificate on August 15, 1979. The six-place single engine airplane was equipped with a throw-over type control column and powered by a Teledyne Continental TSIO-520 series engine rated at 300 HP.
Maintenance records indicated that the last inspection, an annual inspection of the airframe, engine and propeller, was completed on August 1, 2002. The airframe total time at inspection was 2,768 hours and the engine time since factory remanufacture was approximately 1,083 hours. No open discrepancies were noted. The airplane had accumulated approximately 11 hours from the time of the last inspection to the time of the accident.
The airplane was equipped with two Osborne 20-gallon wingtip fuel tanks.
The 1255 Aviation Weather Observation System (AWOS) at Calaveras County-Rasmussen Airport, reported clear skies below 12,000 feet; visibility 10 miles; temperature 66 F; altimeter setting 31.10 inches Hg.
Witnesses to the accident reported that the winds were from the northwest at roughly 10 knots, with good visibility.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Personnel from the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration, (Sacramento, California, FSDO) and Raytheon Aircraft Company accessed the wreckage on the morning of November 14. The wreckage was located on sloping terrain approximately 1,425-feet beyond the departure end of runway 31.
The airplane impacted terrain in a nose-low attitude, slid approximately 20-feet, and came to rest against a large outcropping of rock. A ground scar matching the geometry of the right wing was noted approximately 20-feet behind the wreckages final resting point. The ground scar orientation was consistent with the aircraft's heading. The remains of the aircraft were oriented to a magnetic bearing of approximately 30 degrees, and all aircraft components were located in the immediate vicinity of the main wreckage.
The main wreckage consisted of the engine, engine compartment accessories, cockpit/cockpit instrumentation, cabin section and empennage. The forward section of the fuselage and partially attached engine assembly was pushed aft and bent downward approximately 70 degrees. The propeller hub assembly was found attached to the crankshaft propeller flange. The hub assembly was shattered and propeller blade "A" had separated from the fractured assembly. The blade was later found, partially buried, just forward of the main wreckage. The remaining blades, "B" and "C", were found attached to the hub assembly. Blade "C" exhibited signs of forward bending. The distal end of the blade was curled forward. Aft bending, near the blade root, and leading edge damage was noted to blade "B".
The cockpit controls and instrumentation sustained extensive impact damage. The windshield had fragmented and pieces of windscreen material were found in the immediate vicinity of the wreckage as well as in the open field forward of the impact location. The single throw-over control arm had separated from the control column and was found underneath the pilot side instrument panel. The propeller, mixture and throttle control levers were found in the full-forward positions. The auxiliary fuel pump switch was found in the "OFF" position. The flap handle was found in the "UP" position. The gear handle was found in the "Down" position. The magneto switch was found in the "off" position, however, it was later reported that EMS personnel had rotated the magneto switch to the off position during their initial response. The fuel selector handle, and corresponding fuel valve, was found selected to the left main tank. The cockpit elevator trim indicator position was three degrees nose up.
Both wings were found attached in their respective positions. Upward bending and chord wise twisting (leading edge down) was noted to the right wing assembly. The right flap, aileron and tip tank remained attached to the wing assembly, however, the right main fuel tank and tip tank (Osborne) were breached. The flap was observed in the "UP" position. Control cable continuity was established from the right aileron assembly to the remains of the cockpit. The partially separated right main landing gear was found beneath the right wing.
Leading edge damage and rearward crushing was noted to the left wing. A majority of the damage was isolated to the inboard section of the wing, near the wing root. The wing flap was attached and observed in the "UP" position. The aileron was intact and continuity was established from the control surface to the remains of the cockpit. The left main landing gear was collapsed and resting against the closed inboard landing gear door. The left main fuel tank was intact and an unknown quantity of fuel (blue in color) was noted. The left tip tank was intact, however, there was no indication of fuel in the tank.
Minimal damage was noted to the empennage and associated control surfaces. All fixed and movable control surfaces remained attached in their respective positions and control cable continuity was established from the control surfaces to the cockpit.
Emergency services personnel reported that they noticed a strong gasoline type fuel odor when they initially arrived at the accident site.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy on the pilot was performed by the Calaveras County Coroner's Office, San Andreas, California, on November, 14, 2002. According to the autopsy report, the pilot's cause of death was attributed to "traumatic injuries of the head and chest."
Toxicology tests on the pilot were performed by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. According to the postmortem toxicology report, results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol and drugs. See attached report for specific values and test parameters.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
On January 6, 2003, representatives from the NTSB and Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) conducted an engine examination and teardown at the TCM facility in Mobile, Alabama.
Extensive impact related damage was noted to the engine assembly and associated engine components. Crushing type deformation was noted to the exhaust system and induction tubing. The turbocharger was intact and the compressor/turbine assembly rotated freely by hand. Both crankcase halves, piston cylinders and overhead components were intact. Impact damage was noted to the forward section of the engine case, the number five cylinder and associated overhead components, generator, propeller governor, engine baffling, oil sump and heater shroud.
Both magnetos and corresponding ignition harnesses were intact. Damage was noted to the number five cylinder ignition lead (top). Electrical continuity was established for the two ignition harnesses and both magnetos produced spark when functionally tested on a magneto test bench. The spark plugs were intact and the electrodes were clean.
The fuel system components, to include the throttle body, fuel pump, manifold valve, injector lines and fuel nozzles were intact with minimal impact damage noted. The fuel components were removed from the engine and tested utilizing production test equipment. The fuel system components functioned at or near factory recommended specifications without adjustment from the as found position and there was no evidence of a pre-accident malfunction or failure.
Disassembly and examination of the engine's internal components revealed no evidence of internal component failure. The crankshaft, connecting rods and rod bearings were intact. The crankcase main bearings were intact and no evidence of pre impact bearing shift was noted. The crankshaft counterweights were intact and movement was unrestricted. The piston pins and corresponding pistons were intact. No erosion or damage was noted to the pistons. The piston rings were seated in their respective groves and ring movement was unrestricted. The camshaft was intact and no irregular wear was noted. The engine oil pickup tube screen was clear. The engine oil pump gears were intact and the oil pump cavity was clear.
On February 27, 2003, the airframe, engine and associated components were released to LAD Aviation, Inc, Van Nuys, California.