ATL05FA010
ATL05FA010

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 19, 2004 at 1054 eastern daylight time, a twin engine Beech Baron B-55, N322WW, registered to and operated by J&R Aircraft Inc., collided with the ground and burst into flames in front of an automotive repair shop near the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The personal flight operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and a flight plan was filed. The airplane was substantially damaged. The instrument rated private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The personal flight departed DeKalb-Peachtree (PDK) Airport in Chamblee, Georgia on October 19, 2004 at 1045.

According to the Atlanta Approach Control transcripts, at 0853, the pilot telephoned the Macon Automated Flight Service Station preflight 05 to file an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan from DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, Georgia, to Venice Airport (VNC), Florida. The flight plan was filed and the pilot asked for an abbreviated weather briefing. He stated, "That he had been looking at the RADAR and it didn't look too bad to him." The weather briefing was provided to the pilot.

At 0917, the pilot radioed PDK ground control for an IFR clearance to the VNC airport. The clearance was issued and the pilot read back the clearance. After the pilot completed the run-up, an IFR release was received by PDK tower from Atlanta Approach Control with a good rate of climb to 5000 feet and a heading of 230 degrees. The pilot was advised to expect a good rate of climb due to weather.

At 0947, Atlanta Approach advised the pilot to give his best rate of climb to five thousand in order to cross over the Atlanta International Airport; the pilot responded that he was trying. Atlanta Approach issued a heading of 190 degrees and a frequency change. The pilot acknowledged the instructions, and turned to the east.

At 0950, the pilot radioed Atlanta Approach control: "we're in trouble"; the controller cleared the pilot to fly any heading needed. At 0951, Atlanta Approach transmitted to the pilot to fly westbound to get out of the weather, and the pilot did not respond. The pilot's position was broadcasted several times with no response from the pilot.

At 0957, Approach Control lost radio and radar contact with the flight, and the last recorded altitude was fifteen hundred feet.

Witnesses in the vicinity of the accident site reported seeing the airplane spinning out of the clouds in a flat attitude. The downed airplane was located on a residential street in the downtown area of Atlanta, Georgia. A review of weather data and witness reports reveal that low clouds, fog, heavy rain and thunderstorm activity were in the area at the time of the accident.

PILOT INFORMATION

Review of the pilot's flight records revealed, he was issued a private pilot certificate on May 26, 1977, with airplane single and multiengine- engine land and an instrument rating. The pilot's logbooks were not recovered. Review of records showed that the last reported total flight time was 4050 hours, and an undetermined amount of flight hours in type, and model and make. The private pilot held a third class medical certificate dated October 6, 2004, and valid when wearing corrective lenses. Review of the pilot's flight instructor's records revealed that the last flight review was on August 11, 2004. The last endorsement for instrument proficiency was completed on June 10, 2004.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Review of aircraft maintenance logbooks indicated that the last recorded altimeter, static, and transponder system checks were completed on December 19, 2003. The last annual airframe inspection was conducted on October 1, 2003. The Hobbs time, and total time on airframe and propeller at the annual inspection was 2472.9 hours. Review of the left and right engine logbooks revealed the last annual inspection was completed on October 1, 2003. Review of the left and right engine logbooks revealed that the total time on the engines, and time since major overhaul was 1225.9. Review of the propeller logbook revealed that the total time on the propeller, and time since major overhaul was 1225.9.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The three closest automated surface observing systems (ASOS) to the accident location were located at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Fulton County Airport-Brown Field, and DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta ASOS (KATL) was approximately 8 miles away from the accident site at 189 degrees, the DeKalb-Peachtree ASOS (KPDK) was 10 miles away at 43 degrees, and the Fulton County ASOS (KFTY) was 5 miles west of the accident site. Data from each of these stations surrounding the time of the accident is provided below.
DeKalb-Peachtree at 0953, (METAR); wind.30o at 8 knots; visibility.2 miles; weather. Heavy rain and mist; sky condition. Scattered at 1,100 feet, broken at 2,400 feet, and overcast at 4,400 feet; temperature.18oC; dew point temperature.17oC; altimeter setting.30.00 in Hg; Remarks. Rain began at 0923.
At 1001Z (SPECI); wind.20o at 3 knots; visibility.4 miles; weather. Moderate rain and mist; sky condition. Few at 1,100 feet, broken at 3,400 feet, and overcast at 4,600 feet; temperature.18oC; dew point temperature.17oC; altimeter setting.30.01 in Hg.
Fulton County-Brown Field at 0953 (METAR); wind.320o at 6 knots; visibility.2 miles; weather. Heavy rain and mist; sky condition. Broken at 800 feet, broken at 1,400, and overcast at 3,300 feet; temperature.18oC; dew point temperature.17oC; altimeter setting.30.01 in Hg; Remarks. Rain began at 0948.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International at 0951 (METAR); wind.190o at 9 knots; visibility.6 miles; weather. Mist; sky condition. Broken at 1,100 feet, broken at 1,500 feet, and overcast at 6,500 feet; temperature.19oC; dew point temperature.18oC; altimeter setting.30.00 in Hg.
At 0958 (SPECI); wind.200o at 8 knots; visibility.5 miles; weather. Light rain and mist; sky condition. Broken at 900 feet, broken at 1,000 feet, and overcast at 1,500 feet; temperature.19oC; dew point temperature.18oC; altimeter setting.29.99 in Hg; Remarks. Rain began at 0956.

The National Weather Service issues in-flight weather advisories designated as Convective SIGMETs, SIGMETs, and AIRMETs. In-flight advisories serve to notify enroute pilots of the possibility of encountering hazardous flying conditions, which may not have been forecast at the time of a preflight briefing.

At the time of the accident, there were two valid AIRMETs that included the accident location. AIRMET Sierra, issued at 0845 for Instrument Flight Rule conditions and mountain obscuration, indicated occasional ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibilities below 3 statute miles in precipitation, fog, and mist. The second AIRMET (Zulu), which was also issued at 0845, forecasted the presence of occasional moderate rime or mixed icing in cloud and precipitation between the freezing level and 20,000 feet, with the freezing level beginning at 9,000 feet in the north and sloping to 13,000 feet in the south. Both of the aforementioned AIRMETs were valid until 1500 on the day of the accident. Finally, AIRMET Tango bordered the area of the accident location and suggested occasional moderate turbulence below 10,000 feet. This AIRMET was also issued at 0845 and valid until 1500.

A Convective SIGMET (43E) issued at 0855 included an area roughly 15 miles northwest of the accident location. The Convective SIGMET, which was valid until 1055, noted an area of severe thunderstorms moving from 270o at 20 knots, with tops to 45,000 feet. The SIGMET also indicated that the southern portion of this complex was moving from 300o at 25 knots. Further, the SIGMET pointed out the possibility of tornadoes, 1-inch hail, and wind gusts to 50 knots. At 0955, Convective SIGMET (46E) was issued, and this SIGMET included the accident location. The SIGMET warned of an area of severe thunderstorms moving from 270o at 20 knots, with tops to 45,000 feet. It also indicated the possibility of tornadoes, hail to 2 inches, and wind gusts to 60 knots.

WRECKAGE EXAMINATION

The airplane wreckage was scattered over an area 40 feet long and 38 feet wide. The airplane wreckage was adjacent to an automotive repair shop with debris from the outboard right wing resting on the roof. Both the airplane and building sustained post fire damage. The airplane rested in the upright position. The cockpit, cabin, left and right wing assemblies, and main fuselage were heavily fire damaged.

The cockpit controls and instrument panel were heavily fire damaged. Flight control cables were traced from the cockpit section to pitch, roll, and yaw flight surfaces. All radio equipment was fire damaged. Flight and engine instruments were fire damaged. Engine and propeller controls were fire damaged.

Post accident examination of the left engine revealed that it was intact and fire damaged. The oil sump and exhaust were crushed. All left engine accessories were attached except the vacuum pump and the left magneto. The vacuum pump and magneto were broken off of the accessory section. The propeller was separated from the crankshaft attachment flange. The intake pipes were melted on the rear of the engine. The bottom of the crankcase halves was crushed. The bottom left of the case half was cracked. The aft left crankcase half was shifted to the area of the aft main bearing.

Post accident examination of the left engine controls revealed that the throttle control was in the idle position. The mixture control was the mid-range position. The propeller governor control was in the aft, but not feather position. The crankshaft was rotated approximately 180 degrees, and valve train movement at the rear of the engine was confirmed. The fuel pump revealed the drive coupling was not damaged, and no internal damage was observed. The main fuel screen was clear. The oil pump revealed that the drive shaft was separated, the rotor gears were coated with oil, and the case was crushed. The oil screen was clear and no debris was observed. The vacuum pump revealed that it was separated from the accessory case and heat damaged. The drive coupling was melted, and when disassembled the vanes were in place.

Post accident examination of the left and right magnetos revealed that they were heat damaged. Both magnetos sparked at the terminals when rotated.

Post accident examination of the propeller governor revealed that it was in place and covered with soot. The oil screen was clear, the drive shaft was free to rotate, and oil was observed at the exit port. The propeller was separated and the spinner hub was crushed. All three blades had chord wise scoring. Further examination of the blades revealed all three blades were in the low pitch position, and not in feather.

Post accident examination of the right engine revealed that it was intact and fire damaged. The oil sump and exhaust were crushed. All left engine accessories were attached except the right magneto. The propeller flange was broken and pushed to the rear. The oil sump and crankcase halves were crushed upwards. The intake and exhaust pipes were crushed. The right engine controls revealed that the throttle control was in the full position. The mixture control was the mid-range position. The propeller governor control was in the aft, but not feather position. The crankshaft could not be rotated. The fuel pump revealed the drive coupling was not damaged, free to rotate, and no internal damage was observed. The main fuel screen was clear. The oil pump revealed that the drive shaft was damaged, and the pump gears were coated with oil, and could not be rotated. The oil screen was clear and no debris was observed. The vacuum pump revealed that the drive coupling was partly broken away but not separated. The vacuum pump was disassembled and the vanes were in place.

Post accident examination of the left and right magnetos revealed that they were heat damaged. Both magnetos sparked at the terminals when rotated.

Post accident examination of the propeller governor revealed that it was in place and covered with soot. The oil screen was clear, the drive shaft was free to rotate, and oil was observed at the exit port. The propeller was separated and the spinner hub was crushed. All three blades had chord wise scoring. Further examination of the blades revealed all three blades were in the low pitch position, and not in feather.

PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Fulton County Medical Examiners Office preformed the postmortem examination of the private pilot on October 20, 2004. The reported cause of death was massive blunt force trauma. The postmortem toxicology specimens from the pilot were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, drugs and alcohol.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

From Advisory Circular 61-23C (Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge), revised 1997:
Chapter 9 - Spatial Disorientation and Illusions in Flight Many different illusions can be experienced in flight. Some can lead to spatial disorientation. Others can lead to landing errors. Illusions rank among the most common factors cited as contributing to fatal aircraft accidents. Various complex motions and forces and certain visual scenes encountered in flight can create illusions of motion and position. Spatial disorientation from these illusions can be prevented only by visual reference to reliable, fixed points on the ground or to flight instruments. An abrupt correction of a banked attitude that has been entered too slowly to stimulate the motion sensing system in the inner ear (the leans) can create the illusion of banking in the opposite direction. The disoriented pilot will roll the aircraft back into its original dangerous attitude or, if level flight is maintained, will feel compelled to lean in the perceived vertical plane until this illusion subsides. Any time an attitude is maintained for an extended period, the ears will try to deceive the pilot into believing that the aircraft is in straight-and-level flight. An abrupt head movement in a prolonged constant-rate turn that has ceased stimulating the motion sensing system can create the illusion of rotation or movement in an entirely different axis. An abrupt change from climb to straight-and-level flight can create the illusion of tumbling backwards, while an abrupt upward vertical acceleration, usually by an updraft, can create the illusion of being in a climb. The most overwhelming of all illusions in flight may be prevented by not making sudden, extreme head movements, particularly while making prolonged constant-rate turns under instrument flight rule (IFR) conditions.

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