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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: CEN14FA306
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 20, 2014 in Sauk Rapids, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/02/2015
Aircraft: BRUMWELL RV-6, registration: N135BB
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

About 5 minutes after the experimental amateur-built RV-6 airplane departed from a local airport, an air traffic controller notified the pilot that an Airbus was 30 miles southwest of the airport and inbound. About 7 minutes later, the pilot reported that he had the Airbus in sight and then stated that he was going to take a picture of it. No further communications were received from the pilot. A witness reported observing the RV-6 “rocking back and forth” before the “nose went down” and then seeing two objects come off the airplane when it entered a descent. Another witness reported hearing engine noise before observing the airplane enter a steep nose-down descent. The airplane impacted a house and was destroyed by a postimpact fire.

The two objects that the witness observed coming off the RV-6, which were a headset and PVC material, were later located near the accident site and did not exhibit thermal damage or soot. The exit of the two objects from the airplane’s interior indicates that the canopy likely opened in flight, which led to the loss of pitch control. Fire damage precluded examination of the airplane’s canopy and systems; therefore, the reason for the canopy opening in flight could not be determined. There was no radar or recorded position and time data for either airplane; therefore, the effects, if any, of wake turbulence from the Airbus on the RV-6 could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot’s loss of pitch control due to the in-flight opening of the canopy during cruise flight for reasons that could not be determined because fire damage precluded examination of the airplane’s canopy and systems.