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On June 27, 2012, at 1607 Pacific daylight time, a Rehn Kitfox IV, N645GR, collided with terrain while attempting to return to land immediately after takeoff, at Pearson Field Airport, Vancouver, Washington. The commercial pilot operated the airplane under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. The Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) rated passenger was killed, the commercial pilot was seriously injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.
A witness reported to police personnel that after takeoff he heard audible sounds indicative of an engine problem. The airplane started to make a controlled turn back to the runway and crashed in a 45-degree nose down attitude.
The pilot, age 42, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument-airplane, and held a Class 2 medical certificate issued on July 15, 2011. On the pilot's medical application he reported total flight experience of 415 hours. The pilot does not recall the events leading up to the accident.
The pilot-rated passenger, age 61, held an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate with ratings for airplane multi-engine land, airplane single-engine land, airplane single-engine sea, and rotorcraft-helicopter. He held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine and multi-engine, rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument-airplane. He also held an airframe & powerplant mechanic certificate issued on March 15, 2005. He had a Class 2 medical issued on January 24, 2012, with the limitation that he wear corrective lenses. On his medical application he reported 5,800 hours of flight time and 250 hours with in the previous 6 months.
The two seat, high wing, tail wheel configured airplane, serial number 1700, was manufactured in 1996. It was powered by a Bombardier Rotax 912 80-hp engine and equipped with a 3 bladed fixed pitch propeller. Examination of the airplane maintenance logbook showed an annual inspection was completed on June 14, 2012, at a hobbs time of 475.0 hours. The annual inspection was signed by the pilot-rated passenger who was also an airframe and powerplant mechanic. The hobbs hour-meter observed at the accident site read 475.1 hours. An engine logbook entry dated November 6, 2011, hobbs time of 472.9, states that the engine went to low idle while on crosswind, and that the carburetors were rebuilt by a Roxtax serviceman and reinstalled.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was located in the midfield of the airport. The nose had imbedded into the ground with the cockpit cabin floor pushed up into the cockpit occupiable space. The wings had broken from their mounts but remained in position relative to the fuselage. The tail section was intact with the rudder and elevators remaining attached to the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, respectively. An FAA Inspector examined the wreckage while on-scene and reported that the right wing contained 6 gallons of fuel, the left wing contained 3 gallons of fuel, and the fuel filter was clear. He removed the carburetor bowls from both left and right carburetors. The left carburetor bowl was clean with fuel present. The right carburetor bowl contained s few small pieces of what appeared to be orange rubber-like material, and fuel was present.
The wreckage was further examined by NTSB investigators and a technical representative from Rotech Flight Safety, Inc., on August 29, 2102, at an aircraft storage facility in Auburn, Washington. Flight control continuity was established from the cabin area to the elevator and rudder flight control surfaces. The elevator control linkage from the control stick to the control linkage aft of the cabin area was crushed and distorted. The rear elevator control rod was separated from its forward eyebolt and about midspan. The eyebolt fracture surface exhibited 45-degree shear-lips, consistent with overload. The fuel tank cap seals were undamaged. Fuel line continuity was established from both fuel tanks to a header tank located aft of the cabin seats.
The engine remained attached to the engine mount and the propeller remained attached to the engine crankshaft flange. Two propeller blades had broken from the hub, the other blade remained attached. The propeller blades did not exhibit any chordwise scoring or scratches. The crankshaft could not be rotated by hand. The upper and lower spark plugs were removed and exhibited signatures consistent with normal operation. The forward and aft magnetic plugs were removed from the reduction gearbox. The aft plug had a light amount of metallic debris and the forward plug was free of debris. The rocker arm covers were removed and the overhead components were lubricated and undamaged. The ignition housing and leads were removed and were unremarkable. All four cylinders were removed and exhibited signatures consistent with normal operation. All four pistons and their associated piston rings were unremarkable. The crankcase was disassembled and the main bearings exhibited normal wear signatures. The internal engine components were covered with residual oil and exhibited normal operating signatures. The connecting rods moved normally on the crankshaft.
The oil tank reservoir was removed and the screen was free of debris. Approximately 1/2 quart of oil remained in the reservoir, however, about 1 quart of oil drained from the engine during disassembly of the engine.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot rated passenger on June 27, 2012, by the Clark County Medical Examiner, Vancouver. The medical examiner's report lists the cause of death as multiple blunt force injuries.
The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team CAMI performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot-rated passenger with negative results for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, or listed drugs.
TESTS & RESEARCH
The NTSB IIC conducted a microscopic examination of the orange rubber-like material found in the right-hand carburetor bowl. The debris material was compared to RTV fire sleeve material that was used to insulate the fuel lines that resided in the airplane's engine compartment. When compared with each other the color and texture of both materials were similar, and both contained small white fibers imbedded into the material. How the orange rubber/RTV material came to reside in the carburetor bowl was not determined.
An engine technical expert from Rotech Flight Safety, Inc., relayed information that it could be possible for foreign material in the carburetor bowl to block a carburetor main jet, which would result in either a partial or a complete loss of engine power.