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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: ERA16LA126
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, March 09, 2016 in Pottstown, PA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20, registration: N242TS
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 9, 2016, about 1310 eastern standard time, a Mooney M20C, N242TS, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a total loss of engine power during initial climb from Heritage Field Airport (PTW), Pottstown, Pennsylvania, The private pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, destined for Wing s Field Airport (LOM), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

According to a mechanic, an annual inspection had just been completed on the airplane and that this was the first flight since the inspection had occurred. The mechanic stated that he had completed several static power engine run ups on the day prior to the accident and did not note any abnormalities, and mentioned that the engine made power during each run up. The mechanic stated that the pilot had previously complained about a "cranking" issue during start but verified that this issue was not present during any of the engine starts which he conducted. The mechanic also stated that the airplane had been at PTW for approximately two weeks before the accident had occurred and had not been fueled since the airplane had been flown to PTW for the annual inspection.

According to witnesses, on the accident flight, the airplane was observed to conduct a normal takeoff, the landing gear was observed to retract, and the airplane was observed to climb. The engine then was heard to "cut out" and then "surge." At approximately 300 feet above ground level (agl), the airplane began to turn to the right. The airplane appeared to stop climbing at this point, and the turn appeared to become steeper. The airplane then rapidly lost altitude, then leveled off, and bounced down on the grass area on the north side of the departure end of runway 28. One of the witnesses then immediately drove a vehicle to the accident site and assisted the pilot in egressing from the airplane. The witness noted that the fuel selector was selected to the left tank, the key was in the "BOTH" position, the electric boost pump was on and the mixture was in the full rich position. In order to prevent a fire, the witness placed the fuel selector to the "OFF" position, turned the magnetos off, and selected the fuel boost pump to off. The witness also advised that he observed that the pilot had sustained a laceration on his forehead and appeared to be confused but was able to walk away from the accident site. The pilot was then transported to the hospital for medical treatment.

According to the pilot, prior to the accident flight, as the airplane had just come out of an annual inspection, he completed a thorough preflight to including checking and draining of fuel from the fuel sumps. After the preflight, he then started the aircraft and completed two run ups before taxiing to runway 28 for takeoff. During the takeoff, he stated that everything appeared to be normal until reaching 300 to 400 feet agl. The engine then incurred a total loss of power. He then verified that the fuel was selected to the appropriate tank, that the electric boost pump was on, and the mixture was full rich. He also stated that he tried to "pump the throttle" in an effort to regain power. Realizing that no power was available, the pilot stated that he veered the aircraft to the right to avoid any persons, property, or people that might have been straight ahead. He knew that he would not be able to safely return to the airport, and aimed for the grassy area just to north side of runway 28 where the airplane struck the ground, and came rest.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the airplane came to rest upright on an easterly heading with the landing gear retracted with the aft fuselage bent to the right. A 600 foot debris path existed which started from a point near the right side of runway 28, near the west midfield taxiway intersection, and continued to where the airplane came to rest. Approximately 150 feet from where the airplane first made ground contact, the left aileron, left elevator counterweight, and small wingtip parts were found in ground scars along debris path. Examination of the ground scars indicated that the airplane initially touched down traveling on a north-northwest heading, in a wings level attitude, and then approximately 100 feet later, the right wingtip dug into the ground pivoting the airplane to the right, then the left elevator and stabilizer dug in, and the aft fuselage bent to the right, aft of the avionics bay. The airplane then slid another 100 feet and came to rest. All of the flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site and no preimpact failures or anomalies of the flight control system was discovered. The fuel selector valve, electric fuel pump, throttle, and mixture controls, were verified to be functional. Both propeller blades were bent aft 30 to 60 degrees mid-span and displayed no leading edge damage.

According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on June 22, 2012. He reported that he had accrued 135 total hours of flight experience on that date.

According to FAA and airplane maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 1962. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on March 8, 2016. At the time of the inspection, the airplane had accrued approximately 4,864 total hours of operation.

The wreckage was retained by the NTSB for further examination.