Aviation Accident Summaries

Aviation Accident Summary ERA13FA372

Taunton, MA, USA

Aircraft #1

N83863

AERONCA 7AC

Analysis

The pilot/owner purchased the airplane about 1 month before the accident and was flying with a pilot-rated passenger who owned a similar model airplane. A witness reported that the airplane accelerated and climbed normally to an altitude of about 50 to 100 feet above the ground. It then entered a slow right turn and began to descend until it impacted the ground and immediately became engulfed in fire. The airplane came to rest in a ditch that was located about 1,100 feet from the beginning of the departure runway and 250 feet to the right of the runway center line. Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that a rudder gust lock was installed over the rudder and vertical stabilizer, which prevented movement of the rudder. The control lock was similar to a rudder gust lock that was observed installed on the passengers airplane. No other discrepancies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane were noted. While it could not be determined who was at the controls of the airplane during the accident flight, both pilots should have noted the installation of the rudder gust lock either during a preflight inspection or during a pretakeoff check of the flight controls.

Factual Information

HISTORY OF FLIGHTOn August 25, 2013, about 0615 eastern daylight time, an Aeronca 7AC, N83863, operated by a private individual, was destroyed during a postcrash fire after it impacted the ground during the initial climb after takeoff from the Taunton Municipal Airport (TAN), Taunton, Massachusetts. The private pilot owner and a private pilot passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the local flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The airplane was based at TAN and purchased by the owner on July 31, 2013. According to the airport manager, the passenger also owned an Aeronca 7AC that was based at the airport. The airport manager further stated that a security access log showed that the passengers credentials were utilized to gain access to the ramp area at 0537. A witness at the airport stated that he observed the airplane taking off from runway 30, a 3,500-foot-long, 75-foot-wide, asphalt runway. The airplane accelerated and climbed normally to an altitude between 50 to 100 feet above the ground. The airplane then entered a slow right turn and began to descend until it impacted the ground and immediately became engulfed in fire. The witness added that he did not hear any engine anomalies during the accident sequence. The airplane impacted the ground and subsequently came to rest in a ditch located about 1,100 feet from the beginning of and 250 feet to the right of runway 30. PERSONNEL INFORMATIONThe pilot/owner, age 69, held a private pilot certificate that was issued during April 1986, with a rating for airplane single engine land. His pilot logbook was not located. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical certificate was issued on October 15, 1996. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of 200 hours, which included 0 hours flown during the previous 6 months. The pilot/passenger, age 61, held a private pilot certificate that was issued during December 1982, with a rating for airplane single engine land. His pilot logbook was not located. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on September 30, 2010. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of 1,525 hours, which included 30 hours flown during the previous 6 months. AIRCRAFT INFORMATIONThe two-seat, tandem, high-wing, conventional gear airplane was manufactured 1946, and equipped with a Continental Motors C85-12, 85-horsepower engine. The airplane was constructed of welded tube covered by fabric. The fabric covered wings contained a wood spar with hydro-formed aluminum alloy ribs. Flight and engine controls could be manipulated by both the front and rear seated occupants. According to FAA records, at the time of the accident, the airplane was eligible to be operated under the light sport aircraft (LSA) category. A local mechanic reported that the pilot/owner did not have a current medical certificate and planned to operate the airplane as an LSA. According to fueling records, the airplane was refueled twice at TAN on August 11, 2013, with 5.7 and 7.3 gallons of aviation fuel, respectively. The airplanes logbooks were not located. Review of a pilot operating handbook for the same make and model airplane as the accident airplane revealed a preflight walk around inspection, which included a check of rudder control surface, and a pre-takeoff check of the flight controls. METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATIONThe reported weather at OWD, at 0953, was: wind 100 degrees at 11 knots; visibility 2 miles in mist; overcast ceiling at 500 feet; temperature 17 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 61 degrees C; altimeter 29.58 inches of mercury. AIRPORT INFORMATIONThe two-seat, tandem, high-wing, conventional gear airplane was manufactured 1946, and equipped with a Continental Motors C85-12, 85-horsepower engine. The airplane was constructed of welded tube covered by fabric. The fabric covered wings contained a wood spar with hydro-formed aluminum alloy ribs. Flight and engine controls could be manipulated by both the front and rear seated occupants. According to FAA records, at the time of the accident, the airplane was eligible to be operated under the light sport aircraft (LSA) category. A local mechanic reported that the pilot/owner did not have a current medical certificate and planned to operate the airplane as an LSA. According to fueling records, the airplane was refueled twice at TAN on August 11, 2013, with 5.7 and 7.3 gallons of aviation fuel, respectively. The airplanes logbooks were not located. Review of a pilot operating handbook for the same make and model airplane as the accident airplane revealed a preflight walk around inspection, which included a check of rudder control surface, and a pre-takeoff check of the flight controls. WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATIONAll components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. The airplane came to rest upright; however, the nose section was folded upward and aft, which exposed the underside of the engine. A ground scar, which contained wooden propeller fragments, windshield fragments, and the right wingtip navigation light, was located about 15 feet to the south of the main wreckage. A postcrash fire destroyed the cockpit, and consumed the propeller and all fabric coverings, with the exception of the left aileron. The airplanes flight control cables remained connected at all flight control surfaces. A rudder control gust lock was observed installed over the rudder and vertical stabilizer. The control lock was about 48 inches long and constructed of about 3/4-inch "pvc" type tubing covered in a foam wrap. The control lock was similar to a rudder control gust lock that was observed installed on an Aeronca 7CCM that was parked at TAN and reported to be owned by the passenger. Examination of the engine, which included rotating the crankshaft, confirming valve train continuity and obtaining thumb compression on all cylinders, did not reveal any preimpact malfunctions. MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATIONAutopsies were performed on both occupants by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Boston, Massachusetts. The autopsy reports listed the cause of death for the pilot/owner as "blunt chest and abdominal trauma" and "smoke inhalation" for the pilot/passenger. Toxicological testing was performed on both occupants by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Probable Cause and Findings

The pilot/owner’s inadequate preflight inspection and inadequate pretakeoff check of the flight controls, which resulted in a takeoff with the rudder gust lock installed. Contributing to the accident was the pilot-rated passenger’s failure to detect that the rudder gust lock was installed.

 

Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database

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