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On January 10, 2005, at 1937 eastern standard time a Piper PA-30, N7654Y, registered to G.J. Air LLC and operated by the commercial pilot, collided with the ground and burst into flames shortly after takeoff from Runway 21, at Charleston International Airport, Charleston, South Carolina. The repositioning flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 and visual flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight originated at Charleston International Airport, Charleston, South Carolina, on January 10, 2005 at 1936.
According to Charleston International Airport, Air Traffic Control Tower, at 1935:39 the flight was cleared to takeoff on runway 21. At 1936:05 the pilot reported "we are going to have to turn around and come back real close in here we got an emergency". At 1936:09 the Controller advised the pilot that runway 21 clear to land delta six seventy six hold short of the runway traffic is landing. At 1936:15 Delta 676 advised the controller that they were all ready past the hold short line. At 1936:17 the controller advised N7654Y, that if you can make it to runway 33 you're cleared to land runway 33 there is traffic on runway 21. At 1936:34 the controller announced that the airport was closed. The airplane collided with the ground between runways 21 and 33.
Review of information on file with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a commercial pilot certificate on November 5, 1999, with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane. Review of the FAA aeromedical records showed that the pilot held a second class medical certificate issued on October 4, 2005, with restrictions "must wear lenses for distant - possess glasses for near vision" and "must use hearing amplification." The pilot reported 3,400 hours of flight experience on his latest medical application.
The airplane is a four seat, fixed wing 1965 Piper Twin Comanche PA-30 with retractable tricycle landing gear. The Twin Comanche is powered by two reciprocating, fuel injected Lycoming IO-320-B1A engines. A review of maintenance records revealed that the last annual inspection was conducted on October 12, 2004, at a tachometer reading of 3335.82 hours. At the time of the accident, the tachometer read 3382.63.
Review of the engine maintenance records revealed that both engines were previously overhauled in the field on March 28, 1991. The accumulated time in service since the overhaul (TSO) was approximately 492 hours.
Lycoming Service Instruction No. 1009AQ specifies the recommended time between overhaul (TBO) for Lycoming Engines. According to Service Instruction SI 1009AQ, IO-320-B1A series engines should be overhauled after the accumulation of 2000 hours time in service since new or previous overhaul. Additionally, engines that do not accumulate the hourly period of time between overhauls as specified, are recommended to be overhauled in the twelfth (12th) year.
The nearest weather reporting facility at the time of the accident was Charleston International Airport, Charleston, South Carolina. The 1949 surface weather observation was clear, visibility 8 miles, temperature 57-degress Fahrenheit, dew point 55-degrees Fahrenheit, wind 230-degrees at 5 knots, and altimeter 30.17"Hg.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the wreckage site found that the airplane had collided with terrain in a grassy area south of the intersection of runways 33 and 21. The airplane came to rest on a heading of 072-degrees. The nose section, both outboard wing panels and both outboard tip tanks were fire damaged. Both outboard wing panels were partially separated at the production splice. The detached nose landing gear was located just forward of the fuselage center section. The main landing gears were partially detached from the wings. The left main landing gear was displaced rearward and the right mail landing gear was displaced forward.
The left hand fuel selector was found selected to the main tank position and approximately one-quart of fuel was drained from this tank. Three gallons are considered unusable. The right hand fuel selector was found selected to the auxiliary fuel tank position. At least five gallons of fuel was found in that tank. Neither the left main nor the right auxiliary tanks were breached. Charleston International Airport, The tip tank switches located on the instrument panel, were found in the aux or off position. The tip tanks were found breached and fire damaged. The airplane's flight manual calls for takeoff and landing to be made on the main fuel tanks only.
Both aileron control cables were found connected from the aileron bell cranks to the center section of the airplane. The aileron balance cable was connected between the two aileron bell cranks. The stabilator control cables were intact from the stabilator balance tube to the center section of the airplane. The rudder control cables were intact from the rudder control horn assembly to the center section of the airplane. The rudder trim assembly was set to the neutral position (8 threads). The stabilator trim assembly was set to a slight nose down trim (4 threads). Wing flaps were set at the 0-degree position. The empennage section sustained minor damage to the right side of the stabilator and anti servo trim tab.
Both engine throttle controls were found in the full forward position. Both propeller lever controls were found in the full forward position. Both mixture control levers were found in the full forward position. The engine control quadrant was loose from it panel mounts, but the engine controls were jammed in the quadrant.
Left and right propeller remained attached to their respective engine flanges and both propeller blades remained secure and affixed within the hub. Both blades appeared to be in low pitch / high rpm position. One left propeller blade was bent aft slightly. The opposite left propeller blade remained straight. One right propeller blade was curled aft near mid span and showed chordwise scoring. The opposite right propeller blade showed slight torsional aft bending. Thermal damage from the post impact ground fire was noted.
Both the left and right propeller governors remained attached to the engine cases, and the governor control cables remained attached to the control arms. Both governor control arms were found in the high rpm position.
Examination of the left and right engines revealed that they remained attached to the airframe structure. The engine mount tubes were bent upward and toward the left (inboard). The bottom section of cowling was crushed flat. The entire engine compartment was exposed to thermal damage from the post impact fire. Fluid carrying hoses for fuel and oil were heavily fire damaged. The mixture control cable from the cockpit remained attached to the fuel injector servo mixture control arm and the arm was found in the full rich position. The oil sump on the bottom of the engine was breached and oil was found drained out on the ground. The oil quantity gauge was checked and showed no measurable quantity remaining. The top spark plugs were removed for exam and each plug was dry and exhibited medium gray color combustion deposits. Electrode wear was moderate-to-advanced. Spark plug electrode gap settings were normal. A lighted bore scope was used to examine the cylinder assemblies, which revealed no mechanical anomalies.
The left engine throttle control cable from the cockpit remained attached to the fuel injector servo throttle valve arm and the arm was in the full throttle open position. The right engine throttle control cable from the cockpit was found impact damaged, separated from the ball end of the fuel injector servo throttle valve arm and the arm was in the full throttle open position.
Both engine oil filter elements were removed and opened for examination. In the left engine, clean oil was observed within the element and no contamination was present. In the right engine, burned residue of oil was observed within the element and no contamination was present.
Post recovery examination of the left engine revealed the engine induction air filter assembly was found heat damaged, not obstructed. The alternate air door was found closed. The fuel injector servo was fire and impact damaged. The mount flange adapter of the servo was impact fractured. The fuel injector servo screen was removed and found clean. No fuel was found in the fuel injector servo. The fuel injector nozzles were removed and no fuel was found at the nozzles, the nozzles were not obstructed. The associated fuel lines were void of fuel and were not obstructed. The engine driven fuel pump was found intact and secure, and the unit was removed and examined. A trace amount of fuel was found within the engine driven pump. The pump was removed and actuated by hand, aural pumping action was noted. The pump was opened and the internal diaphragms were found intact, and the steel mechanical parts were also intact. Both magnetos were found secure on each respective mount pad. Fire damage of the magnetos was noted. Gear index timing check was performed and found normal. The magneto harness leads were found damaged. Both magnetos produced spark from all towers when rotated by hand. The outlets of the exhaust tail pipes were dry and exhibited medium gray color combustion deposits. The crankshaft was rotated by hand, which established internal gear and valve train continuity. All four cylinders produced compression. At the conclusion of the engine examination, no evidence of any pre-impact mechanical failure or malfunction was found.
Post recovery examination of the right engine revealed that initial attempts to rotate the engine crankshaft were unsuccessful due to heavy fire damage of the engine rear accessory components. The engine induction air filter assembly was burned. The fuel injector servo was fire and impact damaged. The mount flange of the servo was impact fractured. The fuel injector servo screen was removed and found clean. The fuel injector nozzles were removed and found clear (one nozzle was the two piece type). The right engine driven fuel pump was found intact and secure. The unit was removed and examined no fuel was found. The pump was actuated by hand, aural pumping action was noted; the pump was opened and the internal diaphragms were heat damaged. The steel mechanical parts were intact. Both magnetos were found secure on each respective mount pad. Heavy fire damage of the magnetos was noted. Fire damage precluded timing check and or testing. Both magnetos were removed for examination. The drive gears and impulse coupling were found intact. Internal parts of the magnetos were melted. The magneto harness leads were found damaged. The engine exhaust pipes were crushed against the bottom of the engine. The outlets of the exhaust tail pipes were dry and exhibited medium gray color combustion deposits. The crankshaft was rotated by hand, which established internal gear and valve train continuity. All four cylinders produced compression. The oil suction screen located in the oil sump was removed and found clean. At the conclusion of the engine examination, no evidence of any pre-impact mechanical failure or malfunction was found.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by the Department of Pathology, Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina on January 11, 2005. The report stated that cause of death was "…blunt force trauma…" The postmortem toxicology was performed by the Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The report stated that carbon monoxide and cyanide test were not performed and no ethanol was detected in vitreous. Pseudoephedrine was present in blood and urine, 44.89 (ug/ml, ug/g) acetaminophen was detected in urine, dextrorphan was detected in blood and urine, dextromethorphan was not detected in blood but was detected in urine and diphenhydramine was not detected in blood but was detected in urine.
The airplane completed three flights prior to the accident flight. The owner of the airplane stated that the airplane departed Summerville, South Carolina for the first flight, the morning on January 10, 2005 with 98 gallons of fuel, 92 gallons being usable (23 gallons of fuel in each main tank, 15 gallons of fuel in each wing auxiliary tank and 11 gallons of fuel in each wing tip.) According to the owner, three flights consisted of the first from Summerville, South Carolina (DYB) to Charleston, South Carolina (CHS), the second from Charleston, South Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia (PDK) and the third from Atlanta, Georgia back to Charleston, South Carolina.