ERA11FA165
ERA11FA165

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On February 26, 2011, about 1335 eastern standard time, a British Aircraft Corporation BAC 167 Strikemaster, N167SM, crashed into the Hudson River following an in-flight loss of airplane control near Kingston, New York. The experimental airplane was registered to and operated by Dragon Aviation Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a positioning flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The private pilot was killed. The flight originated at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, about 1235.

According to a representative for Dragon Aviation, the pilot was flying the airplane to Columbia County Airport (1B1), Hudson, New York, with his permission. The purpose of the flight was to reposition the airplane from Smyrna, Tennessee to Hudson. A fuel stop at Johnstown was planned.

While at Johnstown, the pilot purchased fuel and telephoned friends to inform them that he would be flying over Kingston-Ulster Airport (20N), near Kingston. After calling his position on the airport Unicom frequency, he reportedly flew over the airfield and performed a rolling maneuver, described by witnesses as a roll or a barrel roll. Following the rolling maneuver, the airplane remained in the traffic pattern and the pilot executed a second pass, down the centerline of runway 15 at low altitude and with the landing gear retracted. Following the low pass, the pilot reportedly pulled the airplane up to a nose-high attitude and initiated a left-hand turn. During the turn, the airplane nose reportedly dropped and the airplane entered a descending turn until it impacted the river.

A friend of the pilot was on the ramp at 20N and videotaped the airplane in flight. A copy of the video was provided to investigators. A review of the video revealed that the airplane overflew the runway at low altitude, with the landing gear retracted. The airplane then pitched up and entered a steep, left-hand bank. The nose of the airplane then dropped and the airplane entered a descending spiral until it disappeared below the horizon. The sound of a turbine engine was heard until the sound of an impact was heard.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine, multi-engine, and instrument airplane privileges. He received a type rating in the BAC 167 on December 12, 2010. The temporary airman certificate for his BAC 167 type rating included the following restriction: VFR (visual flight rules) Only. An examination of the pilot’s logbook revealed that he had logged about 1,187 hours total time, including 20.6 hours in the BAC 167.

The pilot’s family provided training records that documented 12 flights that occurred in the BAC 167 between June 5, 2010 and November 13, 2010. According to the records, the pilot performed loops, barrel rolls, split-s maneuvers, and Cuban eights. He achieved a proficient grade with the loop, barrel roll, and split-s. He also received proficient grades in airwork, including stalls, flight at slow speed, steep turns, and recovery from unusual attitudes.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a single-engine attack jet, manufactured in 1969. The airplane was equipped with a Rolls Royce Viper 535 turbojet engine.

An examination of the airplane maintenance records indicated that an approved inspection program inspection was performed on February 18, 2011, at Smyrna Air Center, Smyrna, Tennessee at an airplane and engine total time of 3502.8 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1353 weather observation for Poughkeepsie, New York, (POU), located about 21 miles south of 20N, included the following: surface winds from 250 degrees at 7 knots, clouds broken at 10,000 feet, visibility 10 statute miles, temperature 2 degrees Celsius, dew point minus 10 degrees Celsius, and altimeter setting of 30.02 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located in the Hudson River, in ice-covered, shallow water, at approximate coordinates of 41 deg 58.85N, 073 deg 56.820W. After recovery from the river, the wreckage was moved to a shipyard in Kingston where an examination was performed on February 28, 2011. The examination did not reveal evidence of a preexisting mechanical malfunction or failure. All major structural components of the airplane were located and identified. The main wreckage consisted of the forward fuselage, cockpit, engine, and a majority of the left wing. All internal wing, wing tip, and under wing drop fuel tanks were breached. The engine remained attached to the fuselage. The single-stage turbine was found partially protruding from the engine case; the turbine blades were still attached to the disk and all visible blades were bent opposite the direction of rotation. All three landing gear were found in the retracted position.

The cockpit and forward fuselage were crushed in a forward direction. The ejection seats were separated from the cockpit, and were held together by stainless steel tubing. The ejection seat rocket motors were intentionally inert. The nose gear was observed inside the wheel well. Several cockpit instruments were found loose in the wreckage, separated from their instrument panel locations. The airspeed indicator registered about 170 knots. The engine revolutions per minute indicator registered about 57 percent. The engine temperature indicator registered about 505 degrees C. The thrust lever was broken from its mount, and the lever arm bent at a reduced (aft) thrust position.

The right wing was separated at the wing root. The right flap was separated from the inboard wing section. The right, main landing gear remained inside the wheel well. The right aileron was separated from the wing and was buckled on each end. The tip, drop, and internal bladder fuel tanks were breached. All observed connections to the flap and aileron exhibited overload failures.

The majority of the left wing remained attached to the forward fuselage/cockpit/engine section by cables. The spar was separated at the wing root. The left flap was separated from the inboard wing section and was in a single piece. The center of left flap was bent upwards, and there was leading edge crushing and skin buckling on the flap surface. The left, main landing gear remained inside the wing wheel well. The left aileron remained attached to the aft, outboard wing section, was bent, crushed, and exhibited 45-degree buckling on the upper skin surfaces. The tip, drop, and internal bladder fuel tanks were breached. All observed connections to the flap and aileron exhibited overload failures.

The left and right horizontal stabilizers remained attached to each other, integral with the stainless steel engine exhaust cone.

The left horizontal stabilizer leading edge was crushed aft and up throughout its length. The left elevator had minor impact damage. The left elevator trim tab was found positioned approximately 10 degrees tab down. The trim actuator rod remained attached and was not bent.

The inboard section of the right horizontal stabilizer leading edge was crushed aft and up along half of its length. The outboard leading edge exhibited minor impact damage. The right elevator trim tab was found positioned approximately 10 degrees tab down. There was downward bending on the trailing edge of the right elevator.

The vertical stabilizer was separated from the empennage and was crushed aft throughout its length. The stabilizer was bowed to the right, as viewed from aft. The rudder was separated from the vertical stabilizer. The rudder exhibited minor impact damage, which was more pronounced at the upper end. The rudder trim tab was displaced about 30 degrees tab left. There was leading edge crushing, which was more pronounced at the lower end.

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