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On August 15, 2011, about 1535 eastern daylight time, a Diamond DA 40, N316MA, was substantially damaged when it impacted a tree, powerlines, and the ground shortly after departure from an open field near Hodgenville, Kentucky. The certificated Airline Transport pilot (ATP) and two passengers were seriously injured. The airplane was registered to Honaker Aviation and the personal flight was operated under the provision of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed for the flight destined for the Cambridge Municipal Airport (CDI), Cambridge, Ohio.
According to several eyewitnesses, the airplane impacted a powerline, turned approximately 90 degrees, and impacted the ground in a nose down attitude.
The pilot, age 31, held an ATP with a rating for airplane multiengine land. He also held a commercial pilot certificate, with a rating for airplane single-engine land, a certificated flight instructor certificate, and a first-class medical certificate issued May of 2011. According to the operator, the pilot had 4,335 total flight hours, of which 405 flight hours were in single-engine airplanes.
The four seat, low wing, fixed-gear airplane was manufactured in 2003. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-360-M1A, 180 horsepower engine, and equipped with a Hartzell propeller. The airplane had an annual inspection on July 1, 2011 and at that time had a reported 2,756 total hours.
The 1555 recorded weather observation at Godman Army Airfield (FTK), Fort Knox, Kentucky, located 25 nautical miles to the northwest of the accident location, included wind from 260 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 6,000 feet above ground level, temperature 26 degrees C, dew point 18 degrees C; barometric altimeter 29.96 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the grass strip was 1,133 feet in length, oriented east and west, and had an approximate 2 percent upslope. The departure end of the grass strip had approximately 40-foot tall trees located about 40 feet from the departure end of the runway. There were also three powerlines similar in height to the surrounding trees, located 150 feet from the departure end of the runway. The airplane's left wing impacted a tree branch 1,150 feet from where the takeoff initiated. Approximately 3 feet of the left wing was located in a tree, 21 feet from the initial impact point. The airplane came to rest 1,386 feet from the approximate location where the takeoff roll had initiated and was facing back opposite the direction of travel. Marks indicated that the powerlines contacted the propeller, underside of the left wing, and the right side of the horizontal stabilizer. The right horizontal stabilizer tip was embedded in the upper section of the right wing root. Both left and right fuel tanks had been breached; however, there were indications of fuel on the ground around the accident location and both fuel tanks had a blue substance similar to 100LL aviation fuel present. The cockpit fuel selector valve indicated that the right fuel tank was selected.
According to fuel records, the airplane was fueled with 31.2 gallons of aviation fuel on the day of the accident.
On September 9, 2011 an examination of the airplane was conducted with inspectors from the FAA and a representative from the airplane manufacturer. Flight control continuity was confirmed to all flight control surfaces and the flap position was in the takeoff position. The engine was examined and all spark plugs were removed. The spark plugs appeared to be in good condition and the No. 3 spark plug lead was impact damaged. The magnetos were removed, tested, and both produced spark with no anomalies noted. The fuel distributor was removed and opened, no scoring or abnormalities were noted and the diaphragm appeared to be in good condition. The fuel supply line to the fuel servo was removed and a blue fluid consistent with 100LL aviation fuel was present. The fuel servo supply screen was free of debris.
A global positioning system (GPS) unit and an engine monitoring system were located in the wreckage; however, neither device recorded data for the accident flight.
The Diamond DA40 Airplane Flight Manual, Chapter 5 "Performance" includes, in part, the following notes "For take-off from dry, short-cut grass covered runways, the following corrections must be taken into account…. Grass up to 5 cm (2 in) long: 10% increase in take-off roll….An uphill slope of 2%...results in an increase in the take-off distance of approximately 10%. The effect on the take-off roll can be greater." The chapter also includes a caution note which states in part "…In any case the pilot must allow for the condition of the runway to ensure a safe take-off."
According to calculations derived from the aircraft weight of 2,360 pounds and weather conditions at the time of the accident, the total ground roll required was 1,065 feet and the total take-off distance required to clear a 50-foot obstacle was 1,570 feet.
At the time of this writing the pilot's medical condition precluded an interview or having him provide a written statement.