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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: CEN17FA053
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, December 09, 2016 in Marengo, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/14/2018
Aircraft: AIRCRAFT MFG & DESIGN LLC CH601XL SLSA, registration: N4218
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 aircraft accident report.

The light sport pilot decided to conduct a night cross-country flight in his light sport airplane even though he was not current to act as pilot-in-command at night. Radar data depicted the airplane departing after sunset and proceeding along the intended route of flight. The last radar contact was at 3,500 ft above mean sea level (msl), about 2,600 ft above ground level, about 0.5 mile from the accident site. There were no witnesses to the accident, and the wreckage was located the following morning in a plowed field along the intended route of flight about 12.6 nautical miles from the departure airport.

The impact damage to the airframe was consistent with the airplane impacting the terrain while inverted. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction.

The pilot's sport pilot certificate did not authorize him to fly at night. In conjunction with his private pilot training, he had an expired 90-day endorsement for night flight that was dated about 14 months before the accident. It is possible that the pilot became spatially disoriented and lost control of the airplane; however, given that the pilot had been flying at night and that there were no mechanical anomalies identified during the investigation, the reason for the loss of control could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • A loss of control in flight for reasons that could not be determined because no anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction were identified during the investigation.