Aviation Accident Summaries

Aviation Accident Summary ERA13LA361

Vienna, MD, USA

Aircraft #1

N557BB

BRYANT FREDERICK M RANS S-12

Analysis

The student pilot reported that, after maneuvering the experimental amateur-built Rans S-12 airplane in flight for several minutes, he banked the airplane right, applied engine power, and increased the airplanes pitch attitude but that "something didnt feel right." The student pilot responded by applying more power; however, the airplane started to descend. He turned the airplanes nose into the wind, applied full power to the engine, and continued to increase the pitch attitude, but the airplane still would not climb. The student pilot then reduced the engine power to idle while continuing to bank right, and the airplane subsequently impacted the water. An examination of the airplane revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. According to federal guidance, the Rans S-12 falls under the low-inertia and/or high-drag category, which makes the airplane susceptible to unintentional stalls. When the student pilot banked the airplane right and applied engine power, the airplane likely entered a stall due to the airplanes low-inertia and/or high-drag tendencies.

Factual Information

On August 11, 2013, about 1800 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Rans S-12, N557BB, was substantially damaged during a forced water landing near Vienna, Maryland. The student pilot and pilot rated passenger/owner were not injured. The flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight, which originated from a private airport near Vienna, Maryland, around 1750. The student pilot, who was flying the airplane, stated that after an uneventful preflight and departure, he and the pilot rated passenger/owner made two passes around the island to demonstrate the airplane to family members observing from the ground. After completing the second pass, about 100 feet above ground level, the student pilot banked to the right, applied engine power, and increased the airplanes pitch attitude, but "something didnt feel right." The student pilot responded by applying more power; however, the airplane started to descend. He turned the airplanes nose into the wind, applied full power to the engine, and continued to increase the pitch attitude, but the airplane still "could not gain altitude." Continuing to bank to the right, the student pilot then reduced the engine power to idle, and the airplane subsequently impacted the water. According to the student pilot and eyewitness reports, the engine appeared to be functioning "normally." A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed substantial damage to the structural tubing beneath the fuselage. In addition, there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operations prior to the accident. The 2259 weather conditions reported at Cambridge-Dorchester Airport (CGE), Cambridge, Maryland, about 13.6 nautical miles north of the accident site included wind from 130 degrees at 5 knots, 10 miles visibility, scattered clouds at 6,000 feet, temperature 27 degrees C, dewpoint 19 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.03 inches of mercury. According to operator records, the airplane was manufactured in 2007 and had accrued 1,435.3 total aircraft hours. The maintenance logbooks were lost during the accident and the most recent inspection date could not be determined. The student pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) student pilot certificate. Prior to the accident, his most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued August 21, 2006. The student pilot reported 70 hours of flight experience, of which 7 were in the accident airplane make and model. The passenger/owner held an FAA private pilot certificate with ratings for single-engine land. Prior to the accident, his most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued July 9, 1995, at which time he reported 50 hours of flight experience. According to FAA Advisory Circular 90-109 Airmen Transition to Experimental or Unfamiliar Aircraft, the Rans S-12 falls under the low inertia and/or high drag category. In addition, it stated that "hazards of low-inertia/high-drag airplanes are not limited to power management issues. While all airplanes experience an increase in stall speed with an increase in load factor, such as during turns, these airplanes may also experience significant airspeed decay with increased load factor. This, coupled with low cruise speed to stall speed margin, make these airplanes particularly susceptible to unintentional stalls."

Probable Cause and Findings

The student pilot’s inadequate control of the airplane, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and subsequent impact with water.

 

Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database

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