ATL05FA044
ATL05FA044

HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT

On January 11, 2005, at 1818 central standard time, a Cessna T206H, N2467X, registered to pending applicant N2467X, LLC, and operated by Huntsville Flight Center, collided into trees and the ground shortly after takeoff in Huntsville, Alabama. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with an instrument flight rules (IFR) plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions with thunderstorms prevailed. The instrument-rated private pilot and the private pilot-rated passenger received fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. The flight departed Huntsville International - Carl T. Jones Field (HSV), Huntsville, Alabama, at 1816 on January 11, 2005.

According to records from the Anniston, Alabama, automated flight service station (AFSS), the pilot telephoned the AFSS at 1752 and obtained an abbreviated weather briefing and filed an IFR flight plan for a flight from HSV to Fulton County - Brown Field (FTY), Atlanta, Georgia. According to air traffic control (ATC) records, the pilot contacted the HSV clearance delivery controller at 1807:53 to obtain the flight's IFR clearance, and, at 1814:04, the pilot contacted the HSV ground controller and advised he was ready to taxi. The ground controller cleared the pilot to taxi to runway 18L and asked the pilot to confirm he had received the Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) information "november" (N). The pilot acknowledged, then the controller stated, "uh standby I want to give you a weather update here in just a second ... ." The controller then stated at 1814:31, "alright I'm looking at the uh weather radar over here, there's level five weather activity that is south of the airport moving to the northeast so it's going to be crossing the runway south of the airport about three miles, the wind is calm right now, no guarantee, of course, that will last, my suggestion, to make this short, is that you go to [runway] three-six right for a three-six right departure, uh, well we've got inbounds opposite direction so that, that wouldn't work right now, um, again, as you depart, get up there and depart, unless you are going to ready right now, there's level five weather activity about two and a half miles south of the airport now."

The pilot replied, "uh, sir, we're ready to go at [runway] one-eight left, if we can go ahead and get it and get uh, uh, vectors around that, if you could do that right off the end of the runway." The ground controller stated that he would coordinate for the pilot's request, and he cleared the pilot to taxi to runway 18L. At 1815:58, the pilot contacted the HSV local controller and advised that he was at 18L ready for takeoff. The local controller advised the pilot to position and hold for release, and, at 1816:30, the local controller cleared the flight for takeoff from 18L and assigned the pilot a left turn to heading 090. The airplane departed, and no further radio contact was received from the flight. At 1818:17, the local controller attempted to contact the pilot but received no reply. When the pilot failed to respond to subsequent radio calls, controllers alerted rescue personnel. At 1820:50, Rescue 1 contacted the clearance delivery controller for permission to proceed to runway 18L, and the clearance delivery controller advised Rescue 1 that "the aircraft departed about three minutes ago ... of course our visibility is poor so I didn't see him after he got airborne."

A review of ATC records for the HSV east radar position indicated that the east radar controller was working other aircraft, including a Delta Airlines flight and a Jet Link flight, on a different radio frequency, and, at 1817:23, advised the Delta flight crew, "we are now showing uh runway three-six left arrival wind shear alert two-zero knot loss on a three-mile final ... ." At 1818:52, the east radar controller advised the Delta flight crew, "still showing wind shear alert uh now we're getting one for three-six right also two-zero knot loss three mile final for both runways." The east radar controller reported that the accident airplane never communicated with him on his frequency.

According to a witness who was driving a vehicle eastbound on a road near the south end of the runway about 1815, he saw an airplane take off toward him. He stated that the weather conditions were rain with gusty winds and that it was dark, but he could see the lights of the airplane and he could see its silhouette against the lights of a cargo facility on the east side of the runway. He stated that, when the airplane had climbed to about "a few wingspans" in altitude, "it pitched up to an aggressive angle" and seemed to be flying slow. He stated that the airplane's nose was still high as it started a turn toward the east and that the nose came down as the airplane completed the turn, and he described the airplane's movements as appearing "smooth" and "controlled" and "not buffeted." He stated that the airplane then headed due east with its wings level but that it was "too low" and "losing altitude quickly and was still going very slowly." The witness then lost sight of the airplane behind the trees.

The HSV field elevation is 629 feet mean sea level (msl). The clearance delivery controller and the local controller both reported that they saw the Mode C readout radar data tag for the flight show 900 feet [msl], then 800 feet [msl], before radar contact was lost. The wreckage was located in a wooded swamp about 1 nautical mile east of the airport.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land and a rating for instrument airplane. He held an FAA third-class airman medical certificate issued December 1, 2004, with no restrictions. The pilot's logbook was not recovered for examination. On the pilot's application for his airman medical certificate, he reported 1,422 total civilian flight hours.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was manufactured in 2000 and was powered by a Lycoming TIO-540-AJ1A, 310-horsepower engine. According to the engine and airframe maintenance logbooks, the airplane received an annual inspection on November 9, 2004, at a tachometer reading of 97.6, recorded engine total time of 96.1, and recorded airframe total time of 96.1. A maintenance entry dated December 17, 2004, which recorded an oil change, listed the tachometer reading as 153.2 and the engine total time as 151.7.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Aviation weather products are transmitted in coordinated universal time (UTC), also designated by "zulu" (Z), and based on a 24-hour clock. Central standard time is UTC minus 6 hours. According to air traffic control records, ATIS N was based on the 2353Z observation and reported winds from 160 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 miles, ceiling broken at 7,000 feet, temperature 19 degrees Celsius, dew point 15 degrees Celsius, and altimeter setting 30.03 inches.

The Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) for the 2353Z observation included winds from 160 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky conditions broken at 7,000 feet and overcast at 8,500 feet. The Nonroutine (Special) Aviation Weather Report (SPECI) for the 0015Z observation included winds from 260 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 5 statute miles, thunderstorms, light rain, sky conditions broken at 3,800 feet cumulonimbus, broken at 4,700 feet, and overcast at 6,500 feet, with remarks: thunderstorms began at 0014Z, rain began at 2356Z, occasional lightning in cloud and cloud-to-ground southwest through west, thunderstorms southwest through west moving northeast. The SPECI issued for the 0024Z observation included winds from 250 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 1 1/4 statute miles ... thunderstorms, heavy rain, mist ... ."

A review of the NEXRAD Level-II radar imagery for HSV at 0016Z, base reflectivities of 50 decibels (dBZ) were in the immediate vicinity of the airport.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located in a wooded swamp; water and mud in the swamp exceeded four feet in depth in some locations. Wreckage debris and freshly broken trees were scattered about 150 feet along a 043-degree magnetic heading. The left wingtip was crushed and found separated at the base of broken trees at the beginning of the debris path. Both wings were separated from the fuselage, and the empennage was attached. The fuselage was found on its right side at the base of broken trees, and the instrument panel was separated and in the mud outside the cabin. The engine was separated and inverted in the mud adjacent to the roof of the mid-cabin. The turbocharger was separated and in the mud near the engine. The propeller hub was fractured and attached to the crankshaft, the propeller blades were not attached, and the blades were not observed at the accident site. Severe weather and swamp terrain hindered recovery of wreckage, and the wreckage was subjected to heavy rain and rising swamp waters before it was recovered via helicopter and transported on a flatbed trailer for examination at a nearby hangar.

Examination of the fuselage revealed the cabin roof was crushed and breached, the left side cabin door was separated, and the instrument panel was crushed and separated with some avionics and instruments separated from their mounts. The cockpit yoke controls were separated, and the rudder pedal bar was displaced. The fuel selector valve was removed for examination, found to be selected to "both," and all ports were found free of obstruction. Examination of the empennage revealed the left side of the horizontal stabilizer was attached, its outboard leading edge was crushed, and the left elevator was attached. The right horizontal stabilizer was crushed and separated and hanging in its respective location by the elevator trim control cables, which were attached to the trim actuator attached to the right horizontal stabilizer. The right elevator was separated; a separated outboard section of the right elevator, about 3-feet-10-inches long was found in the debris field, and its corresponding section of the trim tab was not attached. The elevator control cables were attached to the elevator. The elevator trim rod was found extended 1.85 inches. The vertical fin was attached, and the rudder was attached at all hinges; rudder control cable continuity was established from the rudder to the pedal bar.

Examination of the recovered left wing pieces revealed an outboard section of the wing about 2 1/2 feet long was separated and showed crush damage from the leading edge aft, and a separated 3-foot outboard section of the left aileron was attached at the outboard hinge. An approximate 6 1/2-foot section of the middle of left wing was separated, crushed from the leading edge aft, and had the inboard section of the aileron attached at the inboard hinge and the push-pull rod, and about a 3-foot outboard section of the flap was attached at the outboard hinge. The aileron control and crossover cables were separated with the outboard ends attached to the left aileron bellcrank assembly. The outboard flap rod was separated near the rod end. The remaining inboard section of the left wing was separated, crushed from the leading edge up and aft, the fuel tank was breached, and the fuel filler cap was in place; the inboard section of the left flap was attached at the inboard and middle flap tracks, the flap tube was attached, and the flap cable was attached to the drive pulley.

Examination of the recovered right wing pieces revealed an outboard section of the wing, which extended from the wing tip to the outboard flap hinge, was separated; the forward piece of the outboard flap hinge was attached. The inboard area of this wing section was crushed from the leading edge aft, the leading edge of the right aileron was attached at two hinges and at the push-pull rod, the aileron skin inboard of the rod was attached, and the aileron skin outboard of the rod was separated. The aileron control and crossover cables were separated with the outboard ends attached to the right aileron bellcrank assembly. An approximate 3-foot separated section of the outboard end of the right flap, which had been found in a tree at the accident site, was crushed from its leading edge aft; the aft piece of the outboard flap hinge was attached, and the outboard flap rod was attached and showed crush damage and tree debris. An inboard section of the right wing that extended from the wing root to outboard of the middle flap hinge had the inboard section of the flap attached at the middle and inboard flap hinges, the flap tube was separated, and the flap cable was attached to the drive pulley. Examination of the flap jackscrew showed the flaps were in the retracted position. The section of wing was crushed from the leading edge aft at the outboard separation area, the wing upper skin on the inboard area of this section appeared bowed upward, the inboard wall of the fuel tank appeared bowed inboard and was breached and partially separated from the upper wing skin along the rivet line; the fuel filler cap was not attached, and the upper wing skin on the inboard area of this section was separated along the aft rivet line, the inboard rivet line, and the forward rivet line.

Examination of the engine accessories revealed the ingition harness showed mud and impact damage. Examination of the magnetos revealed each produced spark on all distributor block towers when turned. Removal and examination of all top and bottom spark plugs revealed each plug's electrodes showed mud and swamp debris, and electrode wear for each was consistent with the "normal" wear condition on the Champion AV-27 comparison card for massive electrode plugs. Both engine-driven vacuum pumps were removed for examination; disassembly revealed mud contamination was inside each unit, both had their rotors and vanes intact, and both had their drive couplings intact. The propeller governor screen was free of debris. The engine oil filter was crushed; examination of the filter element revealed no metallic contaminants. The engine-driven fuel pump was damaged, the fuel pump shaft could be rotated by hand, and liquid with the odor of Avgas was observed to drip from it. Examination of the fuel injection servo revealed it was separated with the induction housing and induction air inlet housing and was hanging from the engine by the throttle cable, fuel line, and manifold pressure line. The throttle lever was attached, the mixture rod end was attached and broken, the throttle body contained mud and swamp debris, and the inlet screen was clean and free of debris. The fuel flow divider was removed for examination; the diaphragm was intact, the unit appeared clean inside, and liquid with the odor of Avgas was observed to drip from it. The fuel injector nozzles for the Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6 cylinders were removed for examination and observed to contain mud and swamp contamination; the fuel injector nozzle for the No. 2 cylinder was broken and separated from the cylinder.

Examination of the engine revealed all six intake pipes were separated, and the exhaust crossover was separated. The engine valve covers were removed to facilitate examination, and, when the propeller flange was turned, movement of all valves and the accessory drive gears was noted, and all six cylinders developed compression. The piston domes and valves were examined via borescope and observed to be intact. The turbocharger's compressor blades were caked with mud and showed damage, broken edges, and curling opposite the direction of rotation; the turbocharger rotated when turned by hand.

Within days of the accident, Madison County Sheriff's Department personnel, who had returned to the accident site, discovered one propeller blade beneath the mud, retrieved it, and submitted it for examination. The blade showed chordwise scratches, leading edge damage, and was bent forward about 1-foot-2-inches from the blade root. The trailing edge of the tip was curled forward, and the blade tip showed gouges on the forward face.

The airplane's KAP 140 flight control computer, KCM 100 configuration module, KLN 94 GPS unit, KLN 94 Americas navigation database card, KMT 112 magnetic azimuth transmitter, KS 270C pitch servo, KS 271C primary servo, and KS 272C trim servo were retained for examination and sent to the Honeywell facility in Olathe, Kansas, for examination under FAA supervision. The KAP 140 showed crush damage and dirt debris; removal of the top cover showed the cover deformation encroached on the power supply board. The cover was bent out away from the power supply board to facilitate testing of the unit. The KAP 140 was connected to test panel and powered; the unit passed all functional tests. The KCM 100 configuration module showed dirt debris. The KCM 100 was powered on a test panel, and the unit recorded a new power cycle. The KLN 94 GPS unit showed crush damage, dirt debris, crush and bezel damage between the NRST and DIRECT TO buttons, and the MENU button was missing. The KLN 94 unit was powered on a test panel using the KLN 94 Americas card, and it passed the self-tests and acquired the necessary satellites when connected to an antenna. Functional tests performed using the available damaged buttons showed the MENU and NRST button functions were inoperative, the CLR button was intermittent, and all other GPS functions operated. The KMT 112 unit showed dirt debris and the connector pins were bent; the pins were cleared of debris and straightened to facilitate testing. The KMT 112 was connected to a test panel and powered; the unit passed all applicable acceptance tests. The KS 270C pitch servo showed internal water and dirt debris; the motor was turned by hand, then the unit was connected to a test panel, powered, and was observed to pass all acceptance tests. Crush damage to the KS 271C primary servo precluded testing of the unit. The KS 272C trim servo showed surface rust on an exposed steel part; it was connected to a test panel and powered and observed to pass all final acceptance tests except for one, in which it was observed to produce a higher ohm reading than the factory production limits.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, Huntsville, Alabama. The autopsy report stated the cause of death was "blunt force injuries." Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report stated no carbon monoxide, no cyanide, no ethanol, and no drugs were detected in the blood.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) Pilot/Controller Glossary, "Radar Weather Echo Intensity Levels," states, "Existing radar systems cannot detect turbulence. However, there is a direct correlation between the degree of turbulence and other weather features associated with thunderstorms and the radar weather echo intensity. The National Weather Service (NWS) has categorized radar weather echo intensity for precipitation into six levels ... . The following list gives the 'VIP [video integrator and processor] levels' in relation to the precipitation intensity within a thunderstorm:" " Level 1. Weak," "Level 2. Moderate," "Level 3. Strong," "Level 4. Very Strong," "Level 5. Intense," and "Level 6. Extreme." According to FAA advisory circular AC-00-24b, "Thunderstorms," the NWS radar observer "is able to objectively determine storm intensity levels with VIP equipment. ... VIP Level 5 is 'intense' with severe turbulence, lightning, hail likely, and organized surface wind gusts. ... Hazardous turbulence may extend as much as 20 miles from the echo edge. Avoid intense or extreme level echoes by at least 20 miles." AIM chapter 7-1-29, "Thunderstorm Flying," states, "Don't land or take off in the face of an approaching thunderstorm. A sudden gust front of low-level turbulence could cause loss of control. .... Avoid by at least 20 miles any thunderstorm identified as severe or giving an intense radar echo."

The wreckage, except for components retained for further examination, was released on May 5, 2005. The retained components were released on November 21, 2005.

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