ATL03FA064
ATL03FA064

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On March 21, 2003, at 1050 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172S, N219ME, registered to Blass Aviation LLC, operated by Elite Flight Center as a 14 CFR Part 91 instructional flight, collided with the ground in the vicinity of Monroe, Georgia. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed. The commercial pilot certified flight instructor and dual student pilot were fatally injured. The flight originated from Dekalb-Peachtree Airport, Atlanta, Georgia, on March 21, 2003, at 1033.

A witness stated she was driving her car towards Highway 81 on Bold Springs Road. She observed a white airplane approaching her location going from left to right. The airplane was at about 1,500 feet in straight and level flight but was traveling at a very fast airspeed. She observed the nose of the airplane descend down to a 45-degree attitude and the airspeed increased. The airplane was observed to start a spin to the right and turned about 180-degrees when a wing separated from the airplane followed by other pieces of the airplane. The nose pitched straight down and the airplane disappeared from view behind the trees. She called 911 and reported the accident at 10:48.

Another witness who was standing in a pasture at the corner of Fannie Thompson Road and Nicholsville Road stated she heard an airplane approaching her location. She looked up and observed the airplane in a 45-degree nose down attitude. The airplane was making a loud noise similar to an increase in airspeed. The nose of the airplane pitched down to a 90-degree attitude. The airplane was at about 200 feet and she initially thought the pilot was performing a stunt maneuver. The witness observed parts of the airplane come off followed by pieces of paper falling to the ground. She called 911 and reported the accident at 10:52.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the commercial pilot was issued a commercial pilot certificate on June 25, 2001, with ratings for airplane single engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. In addition the pilot was issued a flight instructor certificate on February 8, 2002, with ratings for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane. The pilot held a first class medical issued on February 27, 2003, with the restriction, "holder shall wear corrective lenses while exercising the privileges of this airman certificate." Review of the pilot’s logbook indicated that he had a total of 1,329.6 flight hours (1,246.1 hours single-engine airplane and 83.5 hours multiengine airplane), of which 1,216.7 were as pilot-in-command. His logbook indicated that he had accumulated 605.9 hours as a flight instructor. According to the flight school records, the pilot had flown 66 hours in the last 90 days and 16 hours in the last 30 days. The duration of the accident flight was about 0.3 hours. The pilot’s last recorded flight review was conducted on February 8, 2002.

Review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the student pilot was issued a student pilot and third class medical certificate on February 11, 2003. No limitations were listed on the medical certificate. The student pilot logbook and training records obtained from Elite Flight Center revealed the student pilot had recorded 6.7 dual flight hours since February 6, 2003.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Review of airplane maintenance records revealed the last recorded annual inspection was completed on March 17, 2003. The airframe had accumulated 1,650.4 hours. Review of Elite Flight Center Dispatch Sheet for March 21, 2003, revealed the Hobbs meter reading at the beginning of the flight was 2066.30 and Tachometer reading was 1649.40. The Hobbs meter and tachometer were destroyed.

Review of refueling records obtained from the Elite Flight Center, revealed the airplane was topped off on March 9, 2003, with 7.2 gallons of fuel. The airplane had not been flown since it was topped off.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The nearest weather reporting facility at the time of the accident was Lawrenceville, Georgia. The 1045 surface weather observation was: wind 280-degress at 10 knots, visibility 7 miles, 5,000 scattered, temperature 63 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and altimeter 29.84.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located in a pasture on Fannie Hill Road in Monroe, Georgia. The crash debris line was on a heading of 160-degrees magnetic.

The left outside door skin was located at the beginning of the crash debris line. A piece of the left wing tip was located 5 feet down the crash debris line and 5 feet right of the crash debris line. An outboard section of the right elevator was located 36 feet down the crash debris line and 25 feet to the right of the crash debris line. A section of the rudder skin was located 73 feet down the crash debris line and 22 feet left of the crash debris line. A piece of the right wheel fairing was located 82 feet down the crash debris line and 92 feet left of the crash debris line. The trailing edge of the left rear wing tip was located 82 feet down the crash debris line and 61 feet left of the crash debris line. The leading edge of the left wing tip with navigation light was located 133 feet down the crash debris line and 73 feet right of the crash debris line. A piece of the windshield was located 151 feet down the crash debris line and 46 feet right of the crash debris line. The windshield with the lower right corner missing was located 174 feet down the crash debris line and 72 feet right of the crash debris line. The trailing edge of the right wing tip was located 176 feet down the crash debris line and 109 feet right of the crash debris line. The left door assembly and separated window was located on an access road 192 feet down the crash debris line and 153 feet right of the crash debris line. The right wing assembly was located 247 feet down the crash debris line and 31 feet right of the crash debris line. The inboard center section of the left wing was located 258 feet down the crash debris line and 31 feet left of the crash debris line. The rudder balance weight was located 292 feet down the crash debris line and 61 feet right of the crash debris line. The right cabin door window was located 341 feet down the crash debris line and 30 feet right of the crash debris line. A piece of the left outboard elevator was located 341 feet down the crash debris line and 97 feet right of the crash debris line. A piece of the left wing upper skin was located 370 feet down the crash debris line and 14 feet left of the crash debris line. A piece of the right upper outboard wing skin was located 377 feet down the crash debris line and 14 feet left of the crash debris line. The right cabin door was located 439 feet down the crash debris line and 41 feet right of the crash debris line. The engine assembly, propeller, and lower right wing strut were located 506 feet down the crash debris line and 30 feet left of the crash debris line. The left wing, firewall, and instrument panel was located 529 feet down the crash debris line and 36 feet left of the crash debris line. The main cabin area, tailcone, and empennage came to rest 541 feet down and on the crash debris line on a heading of 090-degrees magnetic. The upper and lower left engine cowling was located 558 feet down the crash debris line and 64 feet left of the crash debris line. The left main landing gear tire was located 566 feet down the crash debris line and 5 feet left of the crash debris line.

Examination of the crash site revealed the airplane collided with the ground. The engine assembly separated from the firewall and was buried 11/2 feet below the surface of the ground. The propeller assembly was attached to the propeller flange. Both propeller blades were curled aft. One propeller blade exhibited torsional twisting and "S" bending. The remaining propeller blade sustained impact damage on the leading edge of the propeller tip. The upper and lower engine cowling separated. The firewall was separated from the engine compartment, and the nose wheel separated from the firewall. The windshield separated from the forward cabin section. The instrument panel and avionics stack separated from the firewall.

The cabin area was crushed aft from the firewall rearward to the baggage compartment. The left and right front seats separated from the cabin floor with the seat tracks attached. The rear bench seat was crushed and remained attached to the cabin floor. The left and right main landing gear struts remained attached to the center fuselage bulkhead. The left main landing gear tire separated from the axle. The flight control "Y" assembly was in two pieces. The aileron flight control cables were routed across the pulleys. One chain was broken at the sprocket and the remaining chain was intact. The flight control cables were continuous to the rear doorpost, and from the rear doorpost aft to the rudder and elevator bell cranks.

The right wing separated with a section of the center fuselage bulkhead. The main spar was bent in a downward direction and separated 4 feet outboard of the wing attachment point. The leading edge of the right wing outboard section sustained aft accordion crushing and the main spar was bent in a downward direction. The wing tip fairing separated from the wing tip. The inboard 4 feet of the aileron separated from the rear spar with 11 inches of the rear spar attached. The remaining 41/2 feet of the aileron separated from the rib where the aileron pushrod attaches to the aileron. The flap assembly was in the retract position as verified by the flap actuator jack screw and remained attached to the flap tracks. The right flap appeared to have been deformed in the partially extended position. The right flap interconnect cable exhibited evidence of broomstrawing and was separated in the vicinity of the right wing root. No evidence of corrosion was present on the flap interconnect cable. The right wet wing fuel tank was ruptured. The right wing strut remained attached to the wing strut attach point and separated at mid span. The fuselage bulkhead structure separated with the remaining section of the lower right wing strut. The fracture surface of both struts exhibited down necking with a 45-degree fracture surface. The aileron control cables were attached to the aileron bell crank. Both aileron and flap cables exhibited evidence of broomstrawing.

The tailcone sustained accordion crushing 3 feet aft of the right rear doorpost with twisting to the left, and the tailcone was crushed and twisted to the tail tie down ring. The left and right horizontal stabilizers were folded downward and aft with the leading edge tips almost touching. The left elevator was crushed up at mid span and separated from the horizontal stabilizer at the outboard hinge. The right horizontal stabilizer rear and main spar were broken. The inboard 2 feet section of the right elevator remained attached to the empennage. The elevator trim tab was separated into two pieces. The left horizontal stabilizer front and rear spar were broken. The vertical stabilizer and rudder assembly were twisted to the left and crushed downward and forward. The rudder balance weight separated from the rudder.

The left wing separated from the fuselage with a portion of the center fuselage bulkhead and aft doorpost. The main spar sustained accordion crushing from the wing root extending 2 feet outboard of the flap aileron junction. The outboard wing main spar and leading edge separated outboard of the flap aileron junction. The outboard upper and lower wing skins were torn into various pieces. The tip fairing separated from the wing tip. The left flap was attached to both flap tracks and the bell crank was intact. The left flap interconnect cable exhibited evidence of broomstrawing and was separated. No evidence of corrosion was present on the flap interconnect cable. The left flap was in the retracted position as verified by the flap actuator in the left wing. The inboard 4 1/2 feet of the aileron was separated at the inboard hinge and remained attached at the bell crank. The center 2 feet of the aileron was not located. The outboard 3 feet of the aileron sustained accordion crushing and was not attached to the piano hinge. The left wet wing fuel tank was ruptured. The left wing strut remained attached to the wing strut attach point. The fuselage to strut attach point was separated from the wing strut. The aileron control cables were attached to the aileron bell crank and were pulled out of the center wing section. Both the aileron and flap cables exhibited evidence of broomstrawing.

The engine assembly was transported to Griffin, Georgia, for examination. Fuel was present in the inlet hose and in the base flow valves of the engine driven fuel pump. Fuel was present in the fuel injector inlet finger screen chamber and fuel screen. The fuel screen was free of debris. Fuel was present in fuel distributor. The No.1 and No.4 fuel nozzles sustained impact damage but were free of contaminants. The No. 2 fuel nozzle was obstructed with impact debris. The No. 3 fuel nozzle was clear of contaminants. The crankshaft was rotated by hand, valve and drive train continuity and accessory rotation was confirmed, and observed. A thumb check compression was performed and compression and suction was present on all cylinders. The left magneto case was broken, and an operational test could not be conducted. The right magneto was rotated by hand and ignition was observed at all distributor towers. The top vacuum pump was removed. The drive shaft was rotated by hand. The vanes were equal in wear. The bottom vacuum sustained impact damage and separated at the mounting flange. The drive drum sustained impact damage and the vanes were equal in width.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Assistant Medical Examiner, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, conducted a postmortem examination of the commercial pilot flight instructor, on March 22, 2003. The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. The results were negative for ethanol, basic, acidic, and neutral drugs. The specimens were not tested for carbon monoxide or cyanide.

The Assistant Medical Examiner, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, conducted a postmortem examination of the student pilot, on March 22, 2003. The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. Postmortem toxicology of specimens from the student pilot was performed by the Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The results were negative for basic, acidic, and neutral drugs. Ethanol detected in the liver may be from postmortem ethanol formation and not from the ingestion of ethanol. The specimens were not tested for carbon monoxide or cyanide.

TEST AND RESEARCH

Two right wing pieces, two right wing strut pieces, and the left and right interconnect flap cables were examined by the NTSB Materials Laboratory. The wing and strut pieces were examined visually, and the interconnect flap cables were examined using an optical stereomicroscope. No evidence of fatigue was observed on any of the fracture surfaces. The fracture surfaces were on slant planes with a matte gray appearance. The features were consistent with an overstress fracture. The fractured end of each individual strand from the interconnect flap cables had either cup-and-cone or chisel-like appearance with cross-sectional thinning adjacent to the fracture (necking), features consistent with ductile overstress fracture. There was no evidence of significant wear or corrosion.

Review of radar data revealed the airplane departed Dekalb-Peachtree Airport to the east and climbed to 2,700 feet. At 1048:51, the airplane was east bound at 5,700 feet. At 1049:01, the airplane was at 5,800 feet. At 1049:12, the airplane was at 5,600 feet. There was insufficient radar data available from the Dobbins A.F. B. Georgia, (RADES) and Atlanta Airport Surveillance Radar to determine the airplane speed during the in-flight break up.
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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage of N219ME and the airplane logbooks were released to Atlanta Air Recovery, Griffin, Georgia, on March 23, 2003. The student pilot logbook was released to the wife of the student pilot on March 26, 2003. Components examined by the NTSB Materials Laboratory were released to Atlanta Air Recovery on July 11, 2003.

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