LAX06FA233
LAX06FA233

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 16, 2006, about 2232 Pacific daylight time, a Bellanca 14-19, N522A, impacted a tree on an instrument approach to Arcata Airport, Arcata, California. The owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The pilot was killed; the airplane was destroyed. The personal flight departed from Colusa, California, about 2112, with a planned destination of Arcata. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed.

The airplane became the subject of a search and rescue alert notice (ALNOT) when the Seattle Air Traffic Control Center lost contact with the pilot. Search and Rescue personnel located the wreckage on July 17, 2006, at 1200, 6-8 miles southeast of the Arcata Airport on the approach for runway 32. They reported that the airplane impacted trees and was destroyed.

A review of air traffic control transcripts indicated that the pilot provided a pilot report to Oakland Flight Watch at 1932, and received a weather report for Arcata. The weather was clear, but the amended forecast for the pilot's time of arrival was for 500 feet scattered clouds with occasional broken clouds and visibility of 5 miles. The pilot indicated that he would stop at Colusa.

At 2113, the pilot contacted Oakland Flight Watch, and informed them that he was climbing through 2,500 feet out of Colusa. He got updated Arcata weather at 2143. It was winds calm, visibility 6 miles in haze, and clear below 12,000 feet. The temperature/dewpoint spread was 3 degrees.

The pilot checked in with Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center at 2154; he indicated that he had been monitoring the weather at Arcata, and he could probably get in there. Seattle Center cleared him to maintain visual flight rules (VFR). At 2214, the pilot informed the Center that the Arcata weather had declined to 1,000 feet broken, and requested the instrument landing system (ILS) approach. Seattle Center cleared him to the Knees initial approach fix, which 136 degrees at 15.4 nm from the Arcata very high frequency omni-directional radio range (VOR). They also cleared him for a procedure turn to the ILS approach course for runway 32, and to maintain 5,200 feet. The last transmission from the pilot occurred at 2225:34; he reported just outside of Knees and inbound.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that the airplane's last reported Mode C altitude was 1,800 feet mean seal level (msl) at 2231:54. This target was at 40 degrees 49 minutes 55 seconds north latitude by 123 degrees 59 minutes 45 seconds west longitude. The wreckage location was at 40 degrees 58.25 minutes north latitude by 124 degrees 6.19 minutes west longitude.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of FAA airman records revealed that the 49-year-old pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane.

The pilot held a third-class medical certificate issued on July 15, 2006. It had the limitation that the pilot must have glasses available for near vision.

No personal flight records were located for the pilot. The FAA reported that the pilot indicated on his medical application that he had a total time of 1,369 hours.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a Bellanca 14-19, serial number 2075. The engine was a Textron Lycoming O-435-A, serial number 1053-17. Investigators did not recover logbooks for the airplane.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

The closest official weather observation station was Arcata, (KACV), which was 5 nautical miles (nm) at 326 degrees from the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 221 feet mean sea level (msl). An aviation routine weather report (METAR) for ACV was issued at 2218. It stated: winds from 120 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 7 miles; skies 1,000 feet broken; temperature 12/53 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; dew point 11/52 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; altimeter 30.14 inches of mercury.

The FAA accident coordinator indicated that several witnesses stated that the mountains including Fickle Hill, the site of the accident, had dense fog. One resident stated the fog was so thick he could not see past the front of his car's hood.

AIDS TO NAVIGATION

The instrument approach chart Arcata ILS Runway 32 approach notes a minimum altitude of 5,200 feet during the procedure turn. Glide slope/glide path intercept altitude is 5,200 feet at the KNEES initial approach fix. It depicts an approach course of 316 degrees to the localizer (I-ACV), and the runway threshold is 14.7 miles from KNEES. The glide slope altitude is 1,753 feet at the ACATA outer marker (OM), which is 4.6 nm from the runway threshold.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT

The FAA accident coordinator examined the wreckage on scene. The wreckage was in two main sections; one on each side of a mountain ridge. A logging road ran down the ridgeline. The tail section was on the east side and the forward fuselage with pilot was on the west side. He stated that the first identified point of contact (FIPC) was about 15 feet up on a large fir tree, and the airplane hit engine first at the top of Fickle Hill heading southwest. The airplane broke apart behind the pilot seat. The airplane's tail section fell around the tree; the forward section (firewall, instrument panel and pilot seat) continued over the logging road. From the tree to the fuselage impact area was about 200 feet on a steep slope of about 50 to 60 degrees down angle. Airplane parts were scattered in a V-shape from the tree out to about 100 feet. The tachometer read 546.1 hours.

The pilot was still in the airplane attached only by the lap belt when found by Humboldt Sheriff personnel; the shoulder harness broke on impact. Initial inspection of the front section of the fuselage indicated that the engine had torn loose from the firewall. The fuselage was rolled up in a ball with both wing spars and one landing gear attached. Both yokes were attached, and what looked like an auxiliary tank may have been rolled up in the metal.

The left wing fuel tank was crushed and had two large holes. The coordinator noted that the tank still had a small amount of fuel inside. He removed the gascolators, and found fuel inside. He removed the fuel boost pump; he took it apart, and noted that the pump had fuel inside.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) and an investigator from Textron Lycoming examined the wreckage at Plain Parts, Pleasant Grove, California, on September18, 2006.

Airframe

The airframe sustained heavy mechanical damage and fragmented. There were several disconnects within the pitot/static system. A tube from the vertical speed indicator (VSI) went to a T-fitting. One line separated inside the cockpit 3 inches aft of the T-fitting; the other line crossed over to another instrument.

The pitot tube had a built in static port. Two lines separated about 1 inch from the pitot tube. The IIC blew through the lines, and air exited at the static port and the pitot tube. The pitot tube was connected to the airspeed indicator. The static cross over line separated. The altimeter fitting sustained mechanical damage, and separated; the fracture surface was angular. The venturi was not recovered.

The elevator and rudder control cables separated in the cabin area; the fractures exhibited a broomstraw pattern. The elevator trim rod sustained mechanical damage, and was bent. It fractured and separated; the fracture surface was angular and uneven. The elevator trim cable was in place and connected. The rudder trim cable was attached, but the bottom linkage separated. The top two rudder hinges were in place, and the bolts were connected. The bottom hinge was in place on the vertical stabilizer, but sustained mechanical damage, and the rudder separated.

Right Wing

The right wing had leading edge crush damage. The outboard section of the wing separated along an angular and uneven line. The landing gear was still up in the wing.

The right aileron was complete. The aileron's trailing edge had semicular forward crush damage that was about 2 1/2 feet from the outboard edge. The aileron remained connected to the push/pull tube, which was bent and buckled. The push/pull tube remained connected to the bellcrank, which sustained mechanical damage, and separated from the airframe. The bellcrank was connected to the control cables; the cables fractured and separated in a broomstraw fashion.

Left Wing

The left wing separated along the span near the inboard edge of the left aileron. The outboard 4 feet 8 inches of the left aileron were in place, and the navigation light fixture was in place. The left aileron's operating arm sustained mechanical damage and separated from the airframe. The push-pull tube remained connected to the bellcrank, and was slightly bent at the bellcrank. One cable connected to the bellcrank separated about 18 inches inboard in a broomstraw fashion. The other cable connected to the bellcrank went to left control yoke.

The fuel selector valve was on the right position.

Engine

The engine sustained mechanical crush damage to the rocker covers for cylinders number one, two, and four.

Investigators slung it from a hoist, and removed the top spark plugs. Spark plugs number one three and five were clean; plugs numbers two, four, and six were oil soaked. The spark plug electrodes had no mechanical deformation, and the coloration corresponded to normal operation according to the Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug AV-27 Chart.

A borescope inspection revealed no mechanical deformation on the valves, cylinder walls, or internal cylinder head.

Investigators manually rotated the crankshaft with the propeller. The crankshaft rotated freely, and the valves moved approximately the same amount of lift in firing order. The gears in the accessory case turned freely. They obtained thumb compression on cylinders number two, four, five, and six.

Investigators manually rotated the magnetos, and both magnetos produced spark at all posts.

The vacuum pump separated from the engine, and was not recovered.

The oil suction screen was clean.

The fuel pump remained attached to the engine. The fuel lines remained secure at their respective fittings. Examination of the fuel pump revealed no observed obstructions or mechanical defects. The carburetor remained attached to its mounting flange. The throttle control was securely attached to the control arm. The mixture control separated from the carburetor. Investigators observed no contamination in the fuel inlet screen in the carburetor or fuel bowl. The float assembly was secure in its mounting and appeared undamaged.

Propeller

The two-bladed propeller hub remained attached at the crankshaft flange. One blade remained attached, and bent slightly aft. The other blade was displaced from the hub socket and not recovered.

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