ATL04LA097
ATL04LA097

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 23, 2004, at 0959 central daylight time, a Durr, Lancair Legacy, N511WD, registered to C and D Aircraft Sales, operating as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided with the ground while maneuvering in an area of thunderstorm activity, and while in radio contact with Memphis Air Traffic Control Tower, Departure Radar East (ATCT). Radio and radar contact was lost at 10:00. Attempts to reestablish contact with the pilot was unsuccessful. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed and located in the vicinity of Oakland, Tennessee, at 1230. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The flight originated from Diamondhead, Mississippi, on April 23, 2004, at 0840.

The pilot contacted the Greenwood Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) to request an abbreviated weather briefing for an instrument flight rules flight from Diamondhead, Mississippi to Alton/St. Louis, Illinois. The pilot advised the briefer that he had been watching the weather channel. The briefer replied, "well you've been watching and you still want to go?" The pilot responded, "Baby needs a wash job." The briefer described a large area of convective activity along the pilot's route, and also reported that there were convective SIGMETs in effect. After the briefer completed the summary of weather conditions, the pilot stated that he would, "…just uh go up and take a look at it and see what it looks like out of the windshield."

The pilot contacted Memphis Approach Control at 09:50 level at 6,000 feet. The controller asked the pilot for his heading and the pilot stated 356-degrees. The controller then asked the pilot if he wanted to continue on that heading or turn east bound to go-around the weather. The pilot stated, "I'd like to avoid the weather" The controller acknowledged the pilot's request and instructed him to turn right to a heading of 060-degrees. The pilot informed the controller, "The route straight ahead as far as I can see looks VMC I'd like to be sure on that but I appreciate your input." The controller replied, “All right - stay on course and let me know if that weather starts to become a problem for you.” The pilot acknowledged. At 0956 The controller informed the pilot that he was going to run into a 10-mile band of showers that was crossing his flight path, but did not provide any information on the intensity of the echoes. The controller stated that the quickest way through the weather was on a heading of 330-degrees. The pilot stated, "alright sir we'll go to three thirty and we'll slow down a little bit." A short time later the controller informed the pilot that it appeared the airplane was encountering some up drafts. The controller informed the pilot there were no targets around his altitude, and he should be out of the weather in about 10 miles. The pilot acknowledged the transmission. The controller made a radio call in the blind stating that radar contact was lost 30 miles northeast of Memphis. He further stated, if you can hear, suggest a heading of northwest bound to get through the weather. You are in an area of level four and level five thunderstorms. No communication was received from the pilot. Review of radar data revealed the airplane started a descending right turn at 09:58:54 and the last radar beacon code was at 09:59:12. No primary radar targets were depicted in the accident area.

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 September 22, 2000, with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane. In addition, the pilot held a repairman experimental aircraft builder certificate issued on September 29, 2003. The pilot held a third class medical certificate issued on July 19, 2002, with the restriction, "must wear corrective lenses." The pilot satisfactorily completed an instrument competency check on March 30, 2003. The pilot reported on his last application for the third class medical certificate that he had accumulated 3,000 total flight hours. A friend of the pilot stated the pilot had 105 hours in the airplane of which 45 hours were solo.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Attempts to recover the aircraft logbooks for review were unsuccessful. The Hobbs meter was damaged and the airframe and engine time could not be determined. A friend of the pilot stated the airplane had accumulated 130 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Millington, Tennessee, surface weather observation at 0950 was, winds 360-degrees at 10, visibility 4 miles, light rain, mist, scattered clouds at 600 feet, ceiling 2,400 feet broken, 6,500 feet overcast, temperature 66-degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 64-degrees Fahrenheit, altimeter 30.07.

The Memphis International Airport, Memphis, Tennessee, 0953 surface weather observation located 25.4 nautical miles southwest of the accident site was, wind 310-degrees at 13 knots gusting to28 knots, visibility 2 miles, heavy rain mist, 500 feet scattered, ceiling 1,000 feet broken,1,400 feet overcast, temperature 63-degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 61-degrees Fahrenheit, altimeter 30.11; peak wind 340-degrees at 28 knots at 0946. Thunderstorm ended at 0924. Thunderstorm moved northeast. Law enforcement officers at the crash site reported heavy rain with thunderstorms.

A review of the Memphis Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) was requested by the NTSB from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Lincoln Laboratory. The MIT Lincoln Laboratory stated the crash of N511WD occurred just after the aircraft penetrated a strong thunderstorm 25 nautical miles northeast of Memphis. The Memphis Integrated terminal Weather Systems (ITWS) data confirmed that a level 5 thunderstorm existed over the crash site at the time of the accident. Flight track data revealed the pilot flew directly into the path of the storm, crossing the leading edge of the storm just before the accident time.

The National Weather Service issued Convective SIGMET 53C at 0855 for Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas, and was valid until 1055 from 30 miles east southeast of Farmington, 30 miles south of Dyersburg, Tennessee, 30 miles south southwest of Memphis, 20 miles north of Little Rock , and 30 miles east southeast of Farmington warning of an area of severe thunderstorms moving from 290-degrees at 30 knots with tops up to 38,000 feet, and 1 inch hail with gusts possible to 50 knots. Convective SIGMET 57C was issued at 0955 for Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas, and was valid until 1155 from 50 miles north northwest of Dyersburg, 70 miles northeast of Dyersburg, 40 miles east of Memphis, 20 miles west southwest of Memphis, and 50 miles north northwest of Dyersburg warning of an area of thunderstorms moving from 290-degrees at 30 knots with tops up to 38,000 feet.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage of the airplane was located in a plowed open field 1 mile north of Feathers Chapel Road in the vicinity of Oakland, Tennessee. The crash debris line was 60 yards wide and extended 75 yards south of the initial impact on a heading of 210-degrees magnetic. The engine assembly and fuselage were embedded 8-feet 6-inches below the surface of the ground.

Examination of the airframe revealed the engine assembly separated from the airframe and engine mounts. The left and right magnetos, fuel pump, tachometer generator, starter, propeller governor, alternator, fuel manifold valve and lines, induction system, exhaust system, ignition harness, injector lines, throttle body metering unit, and No.6 engine cylinder were not recovered. The top and bottom engine cowlings were fragmented. The nose gear separated from the engine mount and was in the retracted position.

The propeller assembly separated from the engine assembly aft of the propeller crankshaft flange. The spinner separated and was not recovered. One propeller blade remained attached to the propeller hub. Torsional twisting, "s" bending, and chord wise scarring was present on the face and aft side of the propeller blade. Gouges were present on the leading edge of the propeller blade10-inches outboard of the propeller hub. One propeller blade separated 3-inches outboard of the propeller hub. Torsional twisting, "s" bending, and chord wise scarring was present on the face and aft side of the propeller blade. Gouges were present on the leading edge of the propeller blade19-inches outboard of the propeller hub. The remaining propeller blade separated 3-inches outboard of the propeller hub and was not recovered.

The forward fuselage and cabin area was fragmented. The instrument panel was fragmented. The Garmin GPS 430, audio panel, electric turn and slip indicator, Sportys JD-200 air band transceiver, and right circuit breaker panel received damage. The throttle control was not recovered. The propeller control was in the full forward position and the mixture control was full rich. The fuel selector valve was not recovered. The left lap seatbelt was in the latched position and separated from the female end. The shoulder harness was attached and torn. The right lap seatbelt was in the unlatched position and the shoulder harness was attached. The canopy windshield was separated and fragmented. The rudder cable was connected to the left and right rudder pedals and extended aft to the rudder bell crank. The rudder pushrod broke between the rudder bell crank and rudder actuator arm. The flight control assembly crossover remained attached to the left and right control sticks. The center control tube was not recovered. The forward and aft push pull tube from control sticks extending aft to the elevator idler arm bracket and elevator were not recovered.

The right wing was fragmented and the forward spar was not recovered. The inboard 27-inches of the rear spar was recovered with the wing attachment bracket in place. The right aileron idler bracket was broken. The right outboard control tube separated from the idler bracket and the right bell crank. The aileron control tube separated and was not recovered. The right speed brake was not recovered. The right main fuel tank was ruptured and fragmented. The right main landing gear separated from its attachment points and was in the retracted position. The right aileron separated at the hinge line and was fragmented. The right flap was fragmented and separated from the flap hinge. The inboard flap hinge was not recovered. the position of the flap was not determined.

The aft fuselage was fragmented from the seat back extending aft to the horizontal stabilizer cradle. The horizontal stabilizer separated from the fuselage 8-inches outboard of the right side of the fuselage centerline, and 5-inches outboard of the left fuselage centerline. The outboard portions of the horizontal stabilizer were not recovered. The vertical stabilizer was fragmented. The rudder assembly remained attached to the lower and center hinge bracket. The upper hinge section of the rudder assembly with the upper hinge and counterweight were not recovered. The rudder trim separated from the rudder assembly. The elevator trim tab and inboard left elevator hinge bracket was recovered. The remaining left and right elevator sections were not recovered.

The left wing was fragmented and the forward spar was not recovered. The inboard 16-inches of the rear spar was recovered with the wing attachment bracket in place. The left aileron idler bracket, left inboard and outboard control tube, left aileron bell crank, and bell crank to aileron control tube were not recovered. The left speed brake was recovered and was in the retracted position. The left main fuel tank was ruptured and fragmented. The left main landing gear separated from its attachment points and was in the retracted position. The left aileron separated at the hinge line and was fragmented. The left aileron trim tab was not recovered. The trim tab servo was separated and recovered. The left flap was fragmented and separated from the flap hinge. The inboard and outboard flap hinges separated and were recovered.

The engine was disassembled during the post -crash examination of the airplane. The right crankcase half front forward of the No.5 cylinder deck and the left crankcase half forward of the No.4 cylinder deck were not recovered. The aft left and right crank case half accessory pads were not recovered. The crankshaft was bent forward of the No.5 connecting rod journal. The counter weights were intact and moved freely. The No.5 and No.6 connecting rods were bent and damaged with the piston pins attached. The remaining connecting rods were intact and not damaged. The No.4 and No.5 main bearings were not located. The No.1, No.2, and No.3 main bearing surfaces were intact, and lubricated. The No.2 connecting rod was removed. The connecting rod bearing was intact and lubricated. The crankshaft propeller oil transfer collar was not recovered. The camshaft was broken forward of the No.4 cylinder lobes and was not located. The oil pump was intact. The drive and pump gears and cavity were intact and not damaged. The oil pressure relief valve and seat were intact and not damaged. The oil sump, oil pickup tube, and screen were not recovered. The No. 2 and No. 5 cylinder heads and cooling fins were damaged. The No.1 and No.3 cylinder heads were intact and received fin damage. The No.4 cylinder head was damaged. The exhaust valve and spring were damaged. The No.1, No.2, No.3, and No.4 piston crowns were intact and coated with mud, and the carbon deposits were tan in color. The No.5 piston was broken in the piston pin bore and stuck in the cylinder. The No.1, No.2, No.3, and No.4 rings were intact, and coated with mud and moved freely when turned by hand. The No.5 and No.6 piston pins were damaged. The remaining piston pins were intact and the end plugs were tight. The No.1 and No.2 cylinder top and bottom spark plugs were damaged. The No.3 top spark plug was intact and the bottom spark plug was broken off in the cylinder. The No.4 and No.5 top and bottom spark plugs were broken off in the cylinder.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Regional Forensic Center Medical Examiner, University of Tennessee Health Science Center conducted a postmortem examination on the pilot on April 25, 2004. The reported cause of death was "multiple blunt force injuries." The Saint Louis University Toxicology Laboratory performed postmortem toxicology on specimens from the pilot. The results were positive for ethanol, and negative for basic, acidic, and neutral drugs. No specimens were forwarded to the Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as requested.

TEST AND RESEARCH

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Order 7110.65, "Air Traffic Control," contains guidance to controllers on the supply of radar-observed weather information to pilots. Paragraph 2-6-4 states:

WEATHER AND CHAFF SERVICES
a. Issue pertinent information on observed/reported weather or chaff areas. Provide radar navigational guidance and/or approve deviations around weather or chaff areas when requested by the pilot. Do not use the word "turbulence" in describing radar-derived weather.
1. Issue weather and chaff information by defining the area of coverage in terms of azimuth (by referring to the 12-hour clock) and distance from the aircraft or by indicating the general width of the area and the area of coverage in terms of fixes or distance and direction from fixes.
2. Issue the level of echo intensity when that information is available.
3. When equipment limitations exist, controllers shall, at a minimum, ensure that the highest available level of echo intensity within their area of jurisdiction is displayed.
4. When a deviation cannot be approved as requested and the situation permits, suggest an alternative course of action.
b. In areas of significant weather, plan ahead and be prepared to suggest, upon pilot request, the use of alternative routes/altitudes.
{New-2004-12 1-1-3 Note Revised February 19, 2004}
NOTE-
Weather significant to the safety of aircraft includes such conditions as tornadoes, lines of thunderstorms, embedded thunderstorms, large hail, wind shear, microbursts, moderate to extreme turbulence (including CAT), and light to severe icing.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to Atlanta Air Recovery, Griffin, Georgia, on June 25, 2004.








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