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On July 10, 2005, at 1437 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N73747, registered to a private owner and operated by Greenville Aviation, operating as a 14 CFR Part 91 business flight, collided with the ground on initial take off climb from Transylvania County Airport, Brevard, North Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. A post crash fire destroyed the airplane. The private pilot was fatally injured and one passenger received serious injuries. The flight originated from Transylvania County Airport on July 10, 2005, at 1436. The accident was reported to the Transylvania County Communication 911 operators at 1438.
The passenger stated the pilot conducted a preflight inspection and an engine run up before departing Transylvania County Airport and no deficiencies were noted. The passenger could not remember what runway they departed from and stated the pilot did not use the entire length of the runway for takeoff. The passenger was asked if there were any anomalies encountered on takeoff: what the problem was, and if the problem occurred on the runway or after rotation? The passenger replied, "We lost power after takeoff."
A witness stated he observed the pilot complete a preflight inspection, start the engine and taxi to runway 09. The witness heard the airplane engine increase in power and assumed the pilot was doing an engine run up, but could not see the airplane from his location. A short time later the witness observed the airplane on its take off roll. The airplane was about one third down the runway and did not seem to be going very fast, nor did it sound like the airplane was developing full power. The witness turned around when an airplane tow motor was being cranked up, he looked back towards the departure end of the runway and the airplane had disappeared from view. He then observed black smoke off the departure end of the runway. Another witness stated she heard an airplane approaching her location. The engine sounded like it was at a low rpm, which she attributed to the sound being masked by the terrain. The airplane came into view and was observed at a low altitude in a steep nose down left turn with the left wing perpendicular to the ground. The witness ran up the hill and called the 911 emergency operators.
Review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a private pilot certificate on January 23, 2004, with ratings for airplane single engine land. The pilot's last biennial flight review was conducted on January 31, 2004. The pilot held a third class medical issued on May 18, 2005, with no restrictions. The pilot reported on his application for the medical certificate that he had accumulated 68 total flight hours with 4 hours flown in the last six months. Review of information provided by Greenville Aviation revealed the pilot had flown 1.8 hours in the Cessna 172 before the accident. The pilot's first flight in the Cessna 172 was on May 22, 2004. The pilot's last recorded flight at Greenville Aviation was in a Cessna 172 on May 5, 2005, and the pilot had flown 1.4 hours in the last 90 days. The pilots logbook was consumed by the post crash fire.
Review of the airplane logbooks revealed the last annual inspection was conducted on February 4, 2005. The tachometer time was 1,453.9 hours and airframe time at the annual inspection was 6,807.0 hours. The last 100-hour inspection was conducted on June 20, 2005. The tachometer time was 1642.6 hours and airframe time at the 100-hour inspection was 6,995.7 hours. Triad Aviation Inc., overhauled the engine, on August 18, 2004. The Hobbs time at take off was 1903.8 hours and the tachometer was 1673.5 hours. The Hobbs meter and tachometer were destroyed. Review of refueling records on file at Greenville Aviation revealed the airplane had been topped off with 15.760 gallons of 100 low lead fuel on July 9, 2005. The airplane was flown by another pilot for 1 hour and 12 minutes after it was topped off. The accident pilot departed Greenville, South Carolina, on July 10, 2005, with 30 gallons of 100 low lead fuel. The pilot did not refuel the airplane at Transylvania County Airport before returning to Greenville, South Carolina.
The 1354 surface weather observation at Ashville, North Carolina, was: wind 170-degrees at 8 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds 3,100, 5,500 feet scattered, temperature 81 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 66 degrees Fahrenheit, and altimeter 30.21.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was located adjacent to Freeman Gas Company on a delivery road at the intersection of Crab Creek Road and Old Highway 64 in Penrose, North Carolina. A ground scar was present on a heading of 060-degrees magnetic and extended 23 feet 10 inches long. Pieces of the left red and white forward wing tip and left red navigation light were located in the ground scar. One propeller blade strike and a red and white paint transfer were located on the delivery road 27 feet down the crash debris line on a heading of 052-degrees. The airplane came to rest on a heading of 345-degrees. The crash debris line extended 77 feet.
The engine assembly was displaced to the right and remained attached to the firewall by the left upper and lower engine mounts and the right lower engine mount. The right upper engine mount separated. The vacuum pump received fire damage and separated from its attachment pad. The vanes and rotor were intact. The starter separated from its mounting pad. The oil filter was separated. The engine oil cooler separated from its mounting pads and the hoses were burned off. The engine assembly received fire damage. The No. 2 induction tube was crushed. All remaining induction tubes were intact. The nose wheel was fire damaged and separated from the nose gear upper and lower attachment fittings. The nose gear was located to the left and next to the fuselage forward cabin area. The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft propeller flange. The spinner was crushed upward on the right side. One propeller blade exhibited chord wise scratching on the face of the propeller blade and torsional twisting and "s" bending was present. The propeller blade tip was curled aft with leading edge gouging. The remaining propeller blade was separated 14-inches outboard of the propeller hub. The separated propeller blade was located 55 feet north west of the propeller blade strike and torsional twisting, and "s" bending were present. Chord wise scarring was present on the face and back side of the propeller blade. Gouging was present on the leading edge of the outboard 1 feet of the propeller blade.
Broken segments of the windshield were located on the delivery road adjacent to the main wreckage. The instrument panel was fire damaged. The left and right doorposts were consumed by fire. Both control wheels were located and received fire damage. The control yoke was intact and the control yoke chains remained attached to the aileron control cables. The control yoke assembly pulleys were fire damaged. The drum assembly was consumed by fire. The forward elevator bell crank was intact and fire damaged with the elevator cables attached. The tube between the forward elevator bell crank and the control yoke remained attached. The elevator cables were intact from the forward elevator bell crank aft to the control surfaces. The left rudder cable was attached to the rudder pedal assembly. The left rudder cable was burned and separated in the forward cabin area. The remaining left rudder cable was intact and extended rearward to the rudder. The right rudder cable was attached to the right rudder pedal assembly and was intact rearward to the rudder. The elevator trim cables remained attached to the elevator tab control chain. The majority of the elevator wheel assembly was destroyed. Elevator trim cable continuity was confirmed from the elevator control tab chain to the elevator tab. The left aileron control cable received fire damage and was separated inboard of the left wing root. The left aileron cable was intact to the control yoke. The aileron cross over cable was fire damaged and separated in the cabin area. The right aileron control cable was fire damaged and was intact to the control yoke. The left and right flap cables were fire damaged and separated in the cabin area.
The right cabin door received fire damage and separated from the airframe. The cabin door-latching pin was partially extended. The left cabin door received fire damage and the door-latching pin was extended. The top of the fuselage was destroyed by fire from the windshield aft to the dorsal fin. The bottom of the fuselage was partially destroyed by fire. The landing gear bulkhead and cabin floor was fire damaged. The left and right main landing gear was fire damaged and remained attached to the fuselage. The left and right side windows and rear window were consumed by fire. The front left outboard seat track was fire damaged and the inboard seat track was not located. The front left outboard seatbelt attachment fitting remained attached to the cabin structure. The left front seatbelt and shoulder harness webbing was destroyed. The left front seat was destroyed by fire except for the seat adjust handle assembly. The right front outboard seat track was fire damaged and remained attached to the cabin floor. The forward portion of the right front inboard seat track was attached to the cabin structure and was fire damaged. The right front outboard seatbelt was attached to the structure and the webbing was fire damaged. The shoulder harness webbing and attachments were not located. The rear passenger seat back and bottom were destroyed by fire. The forward seat frame attachments remained attached to the structure. The rear seat frame attachments were separated from the structure.
The right wing was separated at the wing root and located forward of the left wing. The forward wing root attachment was separated from the wing and fire damaged. The rear wing root attachment was intact and fire damaged. The inboard leading edge of the right wing was fire damaged extending outboard 5 feet 6 inches. The right wing tip fairing forward section was damaged. The green navigation light was not located. The leading edge of the right wing was damaged from the wing tip extending inboard 2 feet. The leading edge of the wing was pushed inward and up. The right wing strut was separated at the fuselage attachment fitting, but remained attached to the wing attachment fitting. The right aileron remained attached to the wing and was not damaged. The right flap was fire damaged at the inboard section and remained attached to the flap track. The flap actuator was observed in the retracted position. The right main fuel tank was ruptured and fire damaged. The right-vented fuel cap was in place and fire damaged.
The aft fuselage was separated and fire damaged forward of the dorsal fin. The forward portion of the dorsal fin was fire damaged. The left baggage compartment door was consumed by fire except for the door handle. The vertical fin was not damaged. The rudder remained attached to the vertical fin and moved freely when moved by hand. The rudder balance weight was attached. The left and right horizontal stabilizers and elevators were not damaged. The elevator balance weights were intact. The rotating beacon remained attached to the vertical fin.
The left wing was pushed aft and separated. The forward wing attachment was separated from the wing and fire damaged. The rear wing attachment was separated and consumed by fire. The leading edge of the left wing received fire damage from the wing root extending outboard 7 feet. The left wing was bent upward 9 feet 6-inches outboard of the wing root. Accordion crushing was located on the leading edge of the wing and wing skin. The wing was bent upward to a 90-degree angle. The forward section of the wing tip assembly was separated. The left wing strut was separated at the fuselage attachment fitting, but remained attached to the wing attachment fitting. The left aileron remained attached to the wing. The inboard 2 feet of the aileron received fire damage. One foot of the outboard section of the aileron was partially separated. The left flap remained attached to the outboard flap track. The inboard flap track was fire damaged and not located. The flap push pull rod was connected between the flap bell crank and the flap. The left main fuel tank was ruptured and fire damaged. The left fuel cap was consumed by fire. The fuel vent line was separated in two pieces and was fire damaged. Air was blown into the left fuel vent and the fuel vent line was not obstructed. The scoop assembly and scoop plate stall horn assembly remained attached to the wing and were fire damaged. The stall warning horn was not located.
Examination of the engine assembly revealed the throttle assembly and mixture controls were damaged and their positions were not reliable. The carburetor heat control was destroyed. The carburetor received fire damage. The carburetor was removed and disassembled. The carburetor bowl gasket was burned out and the carburetor bowl screws were loose, the internal passages were open with fire damage, and no fuel leaks or stains were observed. The fuel inlet screen was fire damaged and not obstructed. The metal float was fire damaged and needle valve was fire damaged. The left magneto remained attached to the engine and was fire damaged. The magneto was rotated by hand and the impulse coupling operated but produced no spark. The right magneto remained attached to the engine. The magneto received fire damage. The magneto was rotated by hand and could not be sparked. All pushrods were intact. The exhaust muffler was crushed upward on the left side. The induction air box was separated and not located. The upper and lower sparkplugs were removed and all sparkplug combustion deposits were gray in color except the No. 2 bottom sparkplug. The No. 2 sparkplug electrode was oil soaked. All sparkplugs exhibited "worn normal" when compared to the Champion Check A Plug Chart. Oil remained in the engine and the oil suction screen was free and unobstructed. The oil filer was separated and was fire damaged.
The engine was partially disassembled. The valve covers, and rear-mounted accessories were removed. All cylinders were bore scoped and revealed no anomalies. The crankshaft was rotated by hand and internal valve and drive train continuity was confirmed. Compression and suction was obtained on all cylinders.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Office of the Chief medical Examiner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, conducted a postmortem examination of the pilot, on July 12, 2005. The reported cause of death was "thermal 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 carbon monoxide, cyanide or ethanol. Acetaminophen 19.46 (ug/ml, ug/g) was detected in the urine.
The passenger was transported to Mission Memorial Hospital with serious injuries in Ashville, North Carolina. No toxicology samples were requested.
Review of Pilots Operating Handbook, Section 5 Performance, figure 5-3, states, at the maximum weight of 2,300 pounds with the most rearward center of gravity, the airplane will stall at 42 knots indicated airspeed with the flaps in the up position and 0-degree angle of bank. The airplane will stall at 59 knots indicated airspeed with the flaps up and 60-degree angle of bank. The airplane will stall at 47 knots indicated airspeed with the flaps in the up position and a 0-degree angle of bank with the most forward center of gravity at 2,300 pounds. The airplane will stall at 66 knots indicated airspeed with the flaps in the up position and a 60-degree angle of bank.
The Transylvania County Airport runway 09 and 27 is 2,903 feet in length, and the field elevation is 2,110 feet. Review of takeoff performance data revealed at a weight of 2,100 pounds, pressure altitude of 2,000, temperature 30-degress Celsius, calm winds, flaps up, full throttle before brake release, on a paved level dry runway, the airplane would have a ground roll of 870 feet. The distance to clear a 50 foot obstacle would be 1,555 feet.
The wreckage was released to Atlanta Air Recovery, Griffin, Georgia, on September 20, 2005. The airplane log books were released to Phoenix Aviation Managers Inc., on July 15, 2005. The passengers log book was released to the passenger on August 11, 2005.