On November 27, 2005, at 1210 eastern standard time, an amateur-built Lancair 360, N360JR, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while returning to land after takeoff from the Martha's Vineyard Airport (MVY), Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. The certificated commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local test flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot was also the mechanic who built the accident airplane, and maintained it. The airplane received its airworthiness certificate on November 26, the day prior to the accident. On the day of the accident, the pilot performed one flight in the morning, after which, he was observed making repairs to the airplane.
Recorded voice communications between the pilot and air traffic control revealed, the pilot was cleared to takeoff from runway 6, after which he reported he would be "climbing overhead the field." As the airplane approached the mid-point of the runway, the pilot stated, "juliet romeo return to base." The controller cleared the pilot for a "left downwind" return, and then asked the pilot if he preferred runway 15. The pilot responded, "ah that's affirmative." The controller then cleared the pilot to "land runway one five," and the pilot responded, "cleared to land juliet romeo." No further transmissions were received from the pilot.
According to the FAA inspector, the airplane impacted trees to the right of runway 15, and a post-crash fire ensued. Examination of the engine revealed it was seized and could not be rotated by the propeller. The engine accessory section was consumed by a severe post-crash fire, and the magnetos and engine-driven fuel pump could not be tested. The right side cylinders were removed and the pistons, rings, connecting rods, valves, and crankshaft were intact with no anomalies noted. The fuel system was intact, and no fuel was observed in any of the lines or the fuel distribution valve. However, the fuel system lines and components sustained severe fire damage.
Examination of the propeller revealed one propeller blade displayed minor damage (scratches) and one propeller blade was bent aft, under the engine.
According to a mechanic who was based at MVY and was familiar with the accident airplane, the pilot had modified the aircraft and engine from its original design. He reported the fuel header tank and both electric fuel pumps had been removed. Additionally, the pilot added a fuel injection kit to the engine.
The mechanic reported that on the day of the accident, he observed the pilot takeoff from MVY and immediately return. He stated that the pilot reported the engine was "running hot," and he thought the ignition timing was "off." The mechanic reported that approximately one year prior to the accident, the pilot owned a different airplane, which also "ran hot" at one time. The mechanic noted the timing on that engine was "substantially off," and assisted the pilot in fixing the problem.
Examination of the aircraft logbook contained entries from August 5, 2005, to November 19, 2005. The entries stated the engine was installed new in August, and had accumulated 1.7 hours of ground runs since installation. The last entry in the logbook was the inspection and issuance of the airworthiness certificate, dated November 26, 2005, and signed of by an FAA Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR).
According to the DAR, the engine "appeared to be new." He additionally noted that the pilot had installed his own engine data plate, and had modified the fuel system and baffling system.
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument airplane and helicopter. His most recent FAA second-class medical, was issued on March 4, 2005. At that time, he reported 8,000 hours of total flight experience.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, performed an autopsy and toxicological testing on the pilot, on November 29, 2005.