LAX06FA304
LAX06FA304

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On September 24, 2006, at 1043 mountain standard time, a Cessna 182K, N2700Q, departed Deer Valley Airport (DVT), Phoenix, Arizona, en route to Sedona Airport (SEZ), Sedona, Arizona. The pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal cross-country flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the central Arizona area on the day of the flight, and no flight plan had been filed. When the airplane did not reach its planned destination, concerned family members contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the airplane became the subject of an Alert Notice (ALNOT). A search was initiated, but the airplane was not located and positively identified for another 31 months. At that time, the wreckage, to include the partial remains of its occupants, was found in a steep narrow canyon about ten miles northwest of Sedona.

Because the pilot elected not to request flight following services, he had not been assigned a discreet transponder beacon code, and therefore the airplane would have been expected to be transmitting an altitude encoding transponder code 1200. Recorded radar data was analyzed to find a code 1200 beacon departing Deer Valley Airport at the appropriate time and proceeding north along the anticipated flight track of an airplane en route from the Deer Valley area to the Sedona area. Such a 1200 code track was identified adjacent to the Deer Valley Airport at 1044:46. The target was first identified at a Mode C reported altitude of 2,300 feet mean sea level (msl), and it continued to climb to the north until it leveled off at an altitude of 8,400 feet msl, about eight miles east of Black Canyon City, Arizona. The target's Mode C reported altitude remained between 8,400 feet msl and 8,300 feet msl until 1111, when it was at a point about three miles north of exit 278 on Arizona Highway 17. At that time the target began to descend at a rate of about 500 feet per minute, and at the time of its last radar hit at 1118:00, it was at 5,200 feet msl, at a point about six miles northeast of Clarkdale, Arizona, and about nine miles southwest of the Sedona Airport.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of FAA airman records revealed that the 54 year old pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for single engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot's most recent third-class medical certificate was issued on December 02, 2005, with the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses and possess glasses for near and intermediate vision.

The pilot's flight records were obtained from his family, and consisted of photocopies dated from November 2005, to the day of the accident. The summation of flight hours in the logbook revealed that the pilot had accumulated 450.9 hours total time, with a majority of that time amassed in the accident airplane. The logs additionally disclosed that he had flown two other trips from Deer Valley to Sedona within the past year. A majority of the flights recorded throughout the logs were conducted within a week of a previous flight.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

The airplane, a Cessna 182K, serial number 18257900, was issued an FAA airworthiness certificate on February 25, 1967. It was registered to the current owner on March 08, 2006. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed a total tachometer time of 2,196.3 hours at the oil change on August 26, 2006. The last annual inspection was annotated in the airplane's logbooks on February 25, 2006, at an airframe total of 7,079.51 hours.

According to the records, the airplane had a Teledyne Continental Motors O-470-R engine, serial number 84728-3-R, installed. Total time on the engine at the last annual inspection was 2,045.57 hours, corresponding with 671.71 hours since the last major overhaul.

Fueling records obtained from Atlantic Aviation indicate that the airplane took on 56.90 gallons of 100LL (100 low lead) aviation fuel at Deer Valley Airport at 0940 on the day of the accident flight.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1056 hourly aviation routine weather report (METAR) recorded at Flagstaff, Arizona, which is located about 17 miles northeast of the accident site, indicated winds from 080 degrees at 14 knots, gusting to 18 knots, with 10 statute miles visibility. Sky conditions were clear, with a temperature of 13 degrees Celsius, and a dew point of minus 5 degrees Celsius. The altimeter was 30.37 inches of mercury.

The 1156 METAR for Flagstaff, Arizona, indicated winds from 080 degrees at 9 knots, with no gusts. Sky conditions were clear, with a temperature of 13 degrees Celsius, and a dew point of minus 4 degrees Celsius. The altimeter was 30.36 inches of mercury.

The 1053 METAR recorded at Prescott, Arizona, which is located about 37 miles southwest of the accident site, reported variable winds at 4 knots, with 10 statute miles visibility. Sky conditions were clear, with a temperature of 19 degrees Celsius, and a dew point of minus 4 degrees Celsius. The altimeter was 30.26 inches of mercury.

The 1153 METAR recorded at Prescott, Arizona, indicated calm winds, a visibility of 10 statute miles, and clear sky conditions. The temperature was 19 degrees Celsius, with a dew point of minus 3 degrees Celsius. The altimeter was 30.24 inches of mercury.

Three density altitude calculations were made, all of which were based upon a flight altitude of 6,200 feet msl. One calculation used a temperature of 13 degrees Celsius, one used a temperature of 15 degrees Celsius, and the third used a temperature of 17 degrees Celsius. The density altitude for each calculation was 7,002 feet, 7,229 feet, and 7,453 feet respectively.

COMMUNICATIONS

After his takeoff and initial departure, the pilot terminated his contact with the Deer Valley Airport Air Traffic Control Tower, and did not reestablish contact with any other FAA radio facility or service for the remaineder of the flight.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane wreckage was located in the Secret Canyon Wilderness Area, at the very eastern end of Loy Canyon, at about 6,200 feet msl, and about 10.5 miles northwest of Sedona Airport. It was approximately 300 to 400 yards east of the saddle (an area of lower terrain along a ridge) that connects the eastern end of the Loy Canyon drainage to the western end of the Secret Canyon drainage. On both sides of the saddle the terrain drops off rapidly to their respective drainages.

The airplane impacted mature conifer trees growing along the steep (60 degrees plus) walls of the canyon, and then came to rest in a narrow drainage up against a rock wall. There was clear evidence of a post crash fire, and the airplane had been further damaged by trees that had fallen upon it, and some of its structure appeared to have been buried or carried away by the accumulation and movement of snow, mud, and rocks over the three winters it had been there.

The remaining wreckage was recovered to the facilities of Air Transport, Inc., in Phoenix, Arizona, where it underwent an NTSB directed and FAA monitored teardown inspection. The main airframe wreckage consisted of small portions of the empennage, a four-foot section of the right wing, some skin and small portions of the left wing, the right entry door, parts of the left entry door, the baggage door, and the firewall area, which was still attached to the engine. Fragments of the elevator, the rudder, the right aileron, and the flaps were also recovered. Primary flight control cables were recovered, and cable continuity was established from the cockpit to the flight controls through overload separations and mechanical cuts resulting from recovery efforts. The flap and elevator trim actuators were not recovered. The nose landing gear and the left main landing gear, both of which had separated from the airframe, were recovered. The right main landing gear was not recovered. The pilot and front passenger seats were fragmented, and no associated seat tracks were located. No seat restraint systems were recovered. The right wing, from the root area to the flap/aileron junction had been thermally damaged. The fuel tank caps for both wings were found still attached in the closed position to their respective filler necks. The impact-damaged firewall fuel strainer and the one fuel tank finger screen were observed, with no evidence of contamination of blockage in either. The fuel selector valve and its associated handle were not recovered. The altimeter was recovered, and found to be set at 30.03 inches of mercury, and indicating 5,255 feet.

The engine had experienced several areas of impact damage, and much of it displayed significant thermal damage. The propeller assembly remained attached to the crankshaft and displayed impact and thermal damage. The firewall and the engine mounting assembly remained partially attached to the engine. The exterior surfaces of the engine crankcase displayed thermal discoloration, and several through-bolts had missing or damaged hardware. The cylinders had thermal discoloration and damage, and cylinder barrels and push rod tube housings had corrosion deposits on them. Several cylinder overhead components could be seen through thermally damaged rocker covers. The oil sump was crushed upwards. The magnetos displayed thermal and impact damage, and had separated from their mounting bays and remained attached only by their ignition leads. When disassembled, the interior of both magnetos showed severe thermal damage. The ignition leads were also significantly damaged by the post-crash fire. The upper spark plugs were removed and inspected. All showed normal wear patterns. The number 2, 4, and 6 spark plug electrodes had a dark oily residue. The number 1, 3, and 5 spark plug electrodes had a fine light grey deposit.

The induction assembly had thermal damage and several risers were missing. The exhaust assembly had impact damage. The propeller governor remained attached to the engine, and had thermal discoloration and corrosion deposits on the linkage, spring, and mounting hardware. The starter motor separated from the starter flange, but the starter flange remained attached to the starter adapter. The vacuum pump remained attached to the engine and had thermal discoloration. The alternator separated from the engine and was found with the main wreckage. The carburetor and wye duct had thermal damage and discoloration, but remained partially attached to the engine. The carburetor had corrosion deposits on the hardware and exterior surfaces. The linkage arms had corrosion deposits, but moved freely by hand. The inlet finger screen was removed and was free of debris. The carburetor was disassembled and the interior bowl surfaces had sooty deposits and a very small amount of sand was found in the bowl.

The oil pump was removed from the engine and was disassembled. Although the housing exterior showed thermal discoloration, the cavity and gear teeth were undamaged and had only light scratches from hard particle passage. The oil sump cover plate was removed, and though the oil pick-up tube screen displayed impact damage, it was unrestricted by any contamination. The oil filter, from which all the oil had drained, was removed from its mount, and although corroded on the exterior, the filter element itself was uncontaminated.

All six combustion cylinders were boroscoped, and were determined to be undamaged. The combustion chambers and piston surfaces had white and light grey deposits. The cylinder overhead components displayed surface corrosion, but were undamaged. The crankshaft could not be rotated by hand, and therefore the number 1 cylinder was removed to facilitate further inspection. After removal of the number 1 cylinder it was determined that the crankshaft propeller flange was intact and undamaged. The number 1 connecting rod moved freely on the crankshaft connecting rod journal. Viewing through the number 1 cylinder bay, the internal engine components had a slight oil residue with some corrosion deposits. One aft counterweight was visible, and the snap rings and plates were correctly installed. The counterweight could be moved freely by hand. Although the accessory gears had corrosion deposits and a dark residue on their surfaces, they were undamaged.

The propeller governor was removed from the engine and the drive coupling was intact. The drive shaft rotated freely by hand. The seal/screen was undamaged and free of debris. The linkage arm was intact and moved freely by hand. The propeller assembly was removed from the engine. A small section of the spinner remained attached to the propeller hub. The piston protruded from the hub, which displayed impact damage. One propeller blade was loose in the hub and was bent slightly aft with leading edge damage. The outboard portion of the blade was missing from about mid-span to the tip. The mid-span area displayed thermal discoloration and partial melting, consistent with the outboard portion having been consumed by fire. The other blade was loose in the hub and had multidirectional scratches on the chambered face and aft bending near the tip. Thermal discoloration was found throughout the blade surface. The tip area had trailing edge thermal damage.

At the completion of the airframe, engine, and propeller inspection, no clear evidence had been found to indicate there had been a malfunction or anomaly that would have contributed to a loss of engine power or a problem with controlling the airplane's flight path or attitude.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Skeletal remains recovered by the Coconino County Sheriff's Office and the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office were taken to the Maricopa County Forensic Science Center for examination and positive identification. After examination by the Coconino County Medical Examiner, a forensic odontologist, and a consulting anthropologist, the remains were positively identified as that of the pilot/owner of the airplane, and the passenger who departed with him from the Deer Valley Airport on the morning of the accident. It was the determination of the Coconino County Medical Examiner that both occupants were killed by multiple blunt force injuries, and that the manner of death was accidental.

Due to the elapsed time from the date of the accident to the recovery of the remains, the standard forensic toxicological examination normally conducted by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) was unable to be performed.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to Chartis Insurance, a representative of the owner, in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 4, 2010.

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