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On October 7, 2008, about 1715 Pacific daylight time (PDT), an Iniziative Industriali Italian Sky Arrow 600 Sport, a Special Light Sport Airplane (S-LSA), N454SA, impacted the Pacific ocean near Malibu, California. Northfield Aviation LLC., operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The certified flight instructor (CFI) was fatally injured, and the private pilot undergoing instruction (PUI) was seriously injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings, fuselage, and cockpit. The local instructional flight departed Santa Monica, California, about 1640. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.
Witnesses observed the accident airplane flying low over the water. While making a steep left turn, they saw it nose over and impact the ocean.
First responders rescued both pilots, and transported them to a medical trauma center. The lifeguards coordinated the removal of the airplane wreckage from the surf and up to the beach. First responders stated that both pilots stated that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane or engine during the flight.
In a written statement, the PUI reported that he and the instructor had flown up the coast with no problems noted. The PUI recalled returning to Santa Monica at about 1,000 feet offshore and straight and level. The next thing that he recalled was being in the water.
The PUI was seated in the front seat of the airplane and the CFI was seated in the rear seat. Both pilots were transported to local area hospitals for medical treatment.
The PUI was released from the hospital on October 14, 2008. The CFI remained hospitalized until he died as a result of his injuries on October 24, 2008.
The Sky Arrow 600 Sport, serial number LSA012, was manufactured in 2000; the tandem two-seat airplane was a certified special-LSA, Iniziative Industriali Italian. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed that the airplane had a total airframe time of 123.8 hours at the last 100-hour inspection dated August 28, 2008.
Northfield Aviation LLC., acquired the accident airplane on August 28, 2007.
The Sky Arrow 600 Sport was issued a Special Airworthiness Certificate as a Light Sport Airplane on November 4, 2006. An FAA Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) issued the certificate after verifying that the airplane conformed to ASTM International specification standards for a Special Light Sport Airplane.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
According to the lifeguards who moved the airplane from the surf onto the beach, the airplane struck the water about 50 yards offshore. The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (NTSB IIC) and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage.
Investigators observed that the accident airplane was equipped with a three-point harness restraint system. The rear bulkhead behind the aft seat had completely separated from the fuselage. Examination of the restraint system webbing revealed no visual signs of distress or damage.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The injuries of the CFI were documented in the medical records and obtained by the NTSB from the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center.
The pilot succumbed to his injuries 17 days following the accident. According to the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, the pilot sustained carotoid artery dissection, a bilateral subdural hematoma, a frontal subarachnoid hemorrhage and edema, fractures of the T11, L4, left first rib fracture, lateral left third to fifth rib fractures, with a substernal hematoma to the right anterior, third rib fracture, and injuries to the head and chest.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
On October 9, 2008, investigators examined the wreckage at Aircraft Recovery Service. The NTSB IIC investigator and Rotech flight safety personnel examined and documented the condition of the engine. The airframe and engine were examined with no mechanical anomalies identified.
Rotech submitted a written report, and the NTSB IIC who observed the examination concurred with the facts in the report, which is attached to the accident docket.
Under the NTSB IIC's supervision, Rotech personnel prepared the engine for a run-up. The engine was desalinated, and without modifications or adjustments was successfully started and ran normally.
A handheld Garmin GPSMAP 496, Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) receiver was recovered in the wreckage, and shipped to the Vehicle Recorders Division of the NTSB, Washington, D.C., for examination.
The NTSB's Vehicle Recorders Division examined the Garmin GPSMAP496 and prepared a factual report, which is attached to the accident docket.
The data downloaded from the GPS recorded the accident flight, which was 46 minutes in duration. The final GPS position was recorded at 1712:48, and placed the aircraft at N34 degrees 02.295 minutes and W118 degrees 39.960 minutes at a -6 foot GPS altitude; approximately 10 feet mean sea level after correcting for local vertical GPS distance error. The last calculated recorded velocity was 61 miles per hour groundspeed, and direction of travel was 319 degrees true.
During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the airplane had been designed without a lap belt restraint. The airplane was equipped with a shoulder harness restraint that connected to the crotch strap.
At the time of the airplane's certification, section 8 of ASTM standard F2245, Standard Specification for Design and Performance of a Light Sport Airplane, has the following requirement for the restraint system:
8.5 Safety Belts and Harnesses - There must be a seat belt and harness for each occupant and adequate means to restrain the baggage.
There are 22 Sky Arrow airplanes that were manufactured without a lap belt. Although a retrofit modification to the restraint system design is not required, the manufacturer and the FAA have notified the owners that the installation of a lap belt is encouraged. The NTSB has been informed that some of the 22 owners have voluntarily upgraded their restraint systems. The FAA and the manufacturer have provided information to current owners on the safety of the restraint system, and how it can be upgraded. The FAA indicated that the intent of the original standard was that S-LSAs be designed with a shoulder harness and lap belt. All new S-LSAs (not only the Sky Arrow) are required to have both a shoulder harness and lap belt and according to the FAA, the ASTM standards are being modified to more clearly reflect this requirement.