Santa Fe, NM, USA
The flight instructor and student pilot were conducting a touch-and-go landing. Surveillance footage showed that, shortly after takeoff, the airplane appeared to stop climbing. The right wing then dropped and the airplane entered a steep, nose-down attitude and impacted the ground. A postimpact fire ensued. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. At the time of the accident, the density altitude was calculated to be about 8,600 ft. Given the available evidence, it is likely that the engine’s performance was degraded by the high density altitude and the airplane’s critical angle of attack was exceeded during the initial climb after takeoff, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and loss of control.
HISTORY OF FLIGHTOn April 8, 2019, about 1538 mountain daylight time, a Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam P2002 Sierra light sport airplane, N118LS, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The flight instructor and student pilot were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. The student and instructor were conducting a touch-and-go landing. A witness located near the departure end of the runway reported that the airplane did not climb very high before it appeared to "go sideways" and "nosedived sideways into the ground." Review of the surveillance camera video showed the accident airplane departing from runway 33. The airplane appeared to stop climbing; shortly thereafter, the right wing dropped, and the airplane entered a steep nose-down attitude and impacted the ground. A postimpact fire ensued. PERSONNEL INFORMATIONThe instructor, age 72, held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single engine. He held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, instrument airplane, and glider. His most recent second-class Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman medical certificate was issued on December 21, 2018, with a limitation for corrective lenses. The pilot reported on his medical certificate application that he had accumulated 10,589 total hours of flight experience, with 291 hours in the previous 6 months. The student pilot was issued an FAA third-class airman medical and student pilot certificate on June 15, 2001, which was not valid for any class after June 30, 2003. The pilot reported on the application for the medical certificate that he had accumulated 60 total hours of flight experience, with no flight time in the previous 6 months. AIRCRAFT INFORMATIONThe low-wing airplane was powered by a 100-horsepower Rotax 912 UL S2 series reciprocating engine. The engine was equipped with a GT Propellers fixed pitch propeller. A review of the airframe logbook revealed that the most recent condition inspection was completed on February 1, 2019, at an airframe total time of 1,962.5 hours and an engine time of 491.7 hours. METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATIONAt 1453, the recorded weather conditions at Santa Fe Regional Airport (SAF), Santa Fe, New Mexico, included wind from 240° at 6 knots with gusts to 14 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, clear sky, temperature 23°C, dew point 8°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.15 inches of mercury. The density altitude was calculated to be about 8,600 ft. Review of weather conditions at SAF at the time of the accident revealed no forecasts for any moderate turbulence or low-level windshear. No AIRMETS, SIGMETS, or CWAs for significant weather were active in the area. A weather sounding model depicted no turbulence other than gusting wind at the accident site. AIRPORT INFORMATIONThe low-wing airplane was powered by a 100-horsepower Rotax 912 UL S2 series reciprocating engine. The engine was equipped with a GT Propellers fixed pitch propeller. A review of the airframe logbook revealed that the most recent condition inspection was completed on February 1, 2019, at an airframe total time of 1,962.5 hours and an engine time of 491.7 hours. WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATIONThe airplane first impacted terrain about 527 ft northeast of the departure end of runway 33, at an elevation of about 6,303 ft. All major components of the airplane were contained within the main wreckage site. Wreckage debris was scattered about 100 ft from the main wreckage. The first identified point of contact was a large area of disturbed dirt, about 2 ft long by 2 ft wide and 2 inches deep, where several pieces of green position light lens were located. The disturbance was about 91 ft from the main wreckage. Another ground disturbance, about 2.5 ft long, 2 ft wide, and an inch deep, was located about 18 ft further along the wreckage path, where propeller splinters and the top third of a blade were located. Ground scars emanated from this area of disturbed dirt to the main wreckage. The debris path was oriented on an approximate 005° magnetic heading. The fuselage came to rest upright on a heading of about 175° magnetic. A postimpact fire consumed the left wing and cabin area. Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no preimpact anomalies that would have prevented normal operation. MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATIONThe Santa Fe County Coroner’s Office, Santa Fe, New Mexico, conducted the autopsy on the pilots. The medical examiner determined that the causes of death for both were attributed to “multiple blunt force injuries.” The FAA Forensic Sciences Laboratory performed toxicological testing on the instructor and student pilot. Specimens from the instructor were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and all tested-for drugs. Specimens from the student pilot were negative for carbon monoxide and ethanol. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana) was detected in blood and urine, and carboxy-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol was detected in the blood and urine. Pioglitazone was also detected in the blood. Pioglitazone is a prescription medication used with a diet and exercise program and sometimes with other medications, to treat type 2 diabetes.
The flight instructor’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed during the initial climb after takeoff, which resulted in an exceedance of the airplane's critical angle of attack, an aerodynamic stall, and loss of control.
Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database
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