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On December 18, 2010, at 1015 eastern standard time, a Cessna, 182P, N1462M, experienced a partial loss of engine power and impacted the ground at the Greenwood Lake Airport (4N1), West Milford, New Jersey. The pilot and passenger received serious injuries and the airplane incurred substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The airplane was operated by an individual, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a personal flight.
A representative from the fixed base operator (FBO) stated that when the pilot arrived he requested a heater for his airplane, the temperature was below freezing and the airplane was parked outside on the ramp. The representative set up the heater and observed the pilot conducting a preflight inspection noting that the pilot rocked the wings during the wing sumping process. The pilot explained that he was ensuring to get any water trapped in the fuel tanks because of the bladder system. The representative did not observe the pilot drain the gascolator; located on the engine firewall, during his time at the airplane. About 15 minutes into heating the engine bay compartment, the person the pilot was waiting for arrived. The representative removed the heater and returned to the shop. Several minutes later, emergency response vehicles were observed racing toward the departure end on runway 24; the airplane had crashed.
The pilot provided a statement eight months after the accident due to his injuries. He recalls upon his arrival at the airport he performed a normal preflight preparation. Because the aircraft had not flown since receiving its annual inspection he conducted a more thorough one than normal; that included rocking the wings (due to the fuel bladder tanks), sumping the fuel tanks, and the fuel strainer. He did not note any discrepancies with the fuel samples after completing the task a couple of times. The temperature was such that he ordered an engine pre-heat service; the airplane had been parked on the ramp. The engine pre-heat duration took approximately 15-20 minutes. He determined the pre-heat was sufficient by inspecting the engine compartment, testing the engine cylinder temp by feel, and by checking the oil on the dip stick. His passenger arrived, the pre-heat was completed and they boarded the aircraft. He completed the pre-flight checks and started the engine so that the pre-heat was still effective. He ran the engine until the engine oil temperature indication was "off the peg" on the oil temperature indicator gauge prior to advancing power for takeoff.
He completed the pre-takeoff checklist and everything appeared normal. He taxied out to the end of the runway and noted they were the only airplane in the vicinity. There were no abnormal indications on the ground run-up. The carburetor heat gave the proper drop indication. Once the oil temperature was OK (off the peg), he taxied onto runway 24 for takeoff. It was approximately 15-20 minutes from engine start to takeoff. The pilot applied full power and began the takeoff roll, all aircraft indications were normal for a full power takeoff, and a scan of the instruments prior to rotation indicated everything was normal. The airplane rotated at approximately 60 knots and climbed at full power. He set cruise/climb power to obtain an 800 -1000 feet per minute climb, at 80 knots. The pilot maneuvered the airplane in a 20 degrees right turn after takeoff to avoid flying over a residential area nearby.
At approximately 1,500 feet above ground level, the manifold pressure began to decrease. He applied full carburetor heat. This did not resolve the power loss problem and he decided to return to the airport before a total loss of the engine occurred. He maneuvered the airplane in a right turn to return to the airport. The engine continued to lose power. Due to the wooded area surrounding the airport, the best place to put the aircraft down was back at 4N1. He communicated to the passenger, seated in the back seat, that the airplane lost engine power and to check his seat belt. The airplane descended rapidly and he believed while passing over the trees they might make it. He recalled the airplane was approaching a stall. The last thing he remembered being about 20 feet above the ground, short of the runway, just prior to impact.
Runway 6-24 at 4N1 is asphalt, 3471 foot long by 60 foot wide.
The pilot, seated in the left seat, held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane multiengine airplane land, a commercial certificate for airplane single engine land, and flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single engine and instrument airplane. He was issued a FAA first-class medical certificate on July 6, 2010, with no limitations, and reported he had a total of 17,050 hours at that time.
The Cessna 182P, a four place all metal, high wing, single-engine airplane, variable-pitch propeller, with fix landing gear, serial number 18264337, was manufactured in 1975, and issued a standard airworthiness certificate, in the normal category. The airplane was powered by a Continental O-470-S, 230-horsepower engine, with a McCauley two bladed propeller. The airplane was equipped with a fuel bladder tank system in each wing. The last engine inspection was performed on December 10, 2010, at which the engine had a total of 177.2 hours since major overhaul. The airplane's last inspection was December 10, 2010 and the airplane had a total of 3,432.4 hours at that time. The airplane was on an annual / 100 hours maintenance schedule. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated a total of 3,432.5 hours.
The closest official weather observation was at Sussex Airport (FWN), Sussex, New Jersey, about 14 miles west of the accident site. The FWN 1053 METAR, was winds calm; visibility 10 statute miles; few clouds at 2,500; temperature 4 degrees Celsius (C); dew point minus 1 degrees C; altimeter 30.09 inches of mercury.
The airplane impacted the ground adjacent to the right side of runway 24. Damage to the airplane was consistent with the initial ground contact was with the forward left side of the engine nacelle and outer most left wing section. One of the propeller blades was bent aft toward the left side of the engine nacelle. The left wing outer section incurred impact damage and buckled at mid span, remaining attached to the fuselage attachment points. The right wing's strut separated at the fuselage attachment point and the wing remained intact. The empennage section bent to the left, buckled, and partially separated down aft of the fuselage. The left side of the fuselage and floor of the cabin were crushed inward. The engine compartment was crushed aft and into the cabin area. The roof section was ripped open. The left main landing gear wheel assembly separated and the nose gear collapsed underneath the crushed fuselage section. Forward and aft windshields were shattered, their remnants were observed at the initial ground contact point. The wreckage came to rest in a heading of 060 degrees several feet from the initial impact point.
The responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector conducted a wreckage examination at the accident sight. The fuel selector valve was in the both fuel tank position. Fuel was observed in both wing fuel tanks. A chunk of ice (water with debris frozen in it) was observed in the gascolator fuel bowl. A post recovery wreckage examination was conducted with the airplane manufacturer with FAA oversight. No water was detected in the carburetor when examined. The examination did not reveal any discrepancies that would have prevented normal operation of the airplane and its systems.
A total of 6 minutes of engine operation was recorded on the airplane's tachometer since the last engine run by the mechanic after the annual inspection was completed. There were no witnesses to the accident other than the passenger seated in the back seat, which stated to the FAA inspector that the airplane's engine had a loss of power during takeoff and the pilot tried to return to the airport.
FAA Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) CE-09-35 makes reference to the potential hazards associated with carburetor icing. Near the time of the accident, the ambient temperature and the dew point were such that a serious carburetor icing conditions were possible at cruise power.
The Cessna Model 182P Pilot Operating Handbook, section 4, Normal Procedures, Cold Weather Operation, states the following:
"For optimum operation of the engine in cold weather, the appropriate use of carburetor heat is recommended. The following procedures are indicated as a guideline:
1. Use carburetor heat during engine warm up and ground check. Full carburetor heat may be required for temperatures below -12 [degrees] C whereas partial heat could be used in temperatures between -12 [degrees] C and 4 [degrees] C.
2. Use the minimum carburetor heat required for smooth operation in take-off, climb, and cruise. Note: Care should be exercised when using partial carburetor heat to avoid icing. Partial heat may raise the carburetor air temperature to [the] 0 [degree] C to 21 [degrees] C range where icing is critical under certain atmospheric conditions.
3. If the airplane is equipped with a carburetor air temperature [gauge], it can be used as a reference in maintaining carburetor air temperature at or slightly above the top of the yellow arc by application of carburetor heat."