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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: WPR15GA030
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 29, 2014 in Oxnard, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/04/2017
Aircraft: HAWKER AIRCRAFT LTD HAWKER HUNTER MK.58, registration: N332AX
Injuries: 1 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 public aircraft accident report.

The airline transport pilot was flying the single-seat turbojet airplane, which was owned and operated by a private company under contract to the United States Navy. The accident airplane was one of a flight of two airplanes that were returning to the airport to land at the conclusion of a training exercise. The accident airplane was to follow the lead airplane in an "overhead break" maneuver, which included overflying the runway, entering a descending, 270-degree turn to enter the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, then subsequently entering a descending, 180-degree turn to final approach. The recommended final approach airspeed was 150 knots (kts).

Witnesses observed both airplanes during the approach, and noted that the accident airplane's approach appeared lower and slower than that of the lead airplane. They stated that they observed the accident airplane in a left-wing-low bank, the wings rocked from side to side, then the airplane entered a rapid roll to the right and pitched down until it impacted the ground.

Recorded data recovered from the airplane's primary flight display unit revealed that the airplane crossed the runway's extended centerline about 5,900 ft from the runway threshold in a 30-degree bank at an airspeed about 126 kts. At this time, the airplane was on a magnetic heading about 25 degrees from runway alignment, at an altitude of about 328 ft; field elevation was 13 ft. Although the airspeed was well below the target airspeed, the airplane was on a heading, and in a geographic location, that permitted capture of the final approach path with bank corrections. Stall onset occurred several seconds later when the airplane was at a bank angle of 45 degrees, an airspeed of 114 kts, and an altitude of 276 ft. Data indicated that the pilot did not increase thrust significantly in the approach until at, or possibly about 1 second before, stall onset.

The stall was the result of the combination of an airspeed that was 46 knots below the minimum target value, and a bank angle that was significantly more than that required to capture the final approach path. Examination of the engine and flight controls did not reveal any mechanical deficiencies that would have adversely affected the performance or controllability of the airplane before impact.

The on-scene investigation revealed that the pilot did not attempt to eject from the airplane. Naval Air Systems Command simulations determined that a successful ejection could have been accomplished as late as 2 seconds before the end of the data (the data ended several seconds before impact).

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed during the approach for landing, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall/spin at an altitude too low for recovery.