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Author Topic: N9926Q Fatal Crash at PTK 6/22/2013  (Read 64331 times)
StuSEL
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« on: June 23, 2013, 02:07:30 AM »

This past Friday, a newly certificated 19-year-old private pilot and his 3 passengers were killed when they departed the Pontiac-Oakland County Int'l Airport in Michigan. Flying a C172 with three passengers, including his mother, step father, and brother-in-law, the pilot apparently knew he was "a little overweight" per his transmission to Pontiac Tower that he made just before the airplane crashed. The pilot was a Western Michigan University student and was said to have been planning to attend the U.S. Naval Academy within the coming weeks.

http://www.freep.com/article/20130621/NEWS03/306210090/plane-crash-Oakland-airport

There's not a whole lot on this clip besides the takeoff clearance, some subsequent traffic calls, and the request by this pilot to come back to the airport. After the controller's first response to the pilot, nothing else is heard. The pilot crashed within seconds of requesting to come back and land.

* N9926Q Fatal at PTK - Shortened.mp3 (455.1 KB - downloaded 5461 times.)
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robc
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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2013, 08:43:02 AM »

At 100 ft AGL he wants to attempt "the impossible turn"?  huh

Anyone know if the crash was on centerline?
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robc
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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2013, 09:56:16 AM »

Here's a photo of the location.

http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/slideshow?widgetid=83443&slideshowimageid=10

It looks like they didn't even make it to the fence on takeoff.  This clears up my confusion.  The news reports said the crash was in a field near the airport and quoted the airport director saying the pilot requested to turn around and land.  I think the pilot and tower were both talking about a sidestep to the longer runway or using the turf at the departure end.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2013, 10:09:10 AM by robc » Logged
martyj19
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2013, 09:51:32 PM »

Many years ago in a flight office a few miles from where I sit, we were able to talk a newly certificated private pilot into doing the math and understanding that he could not successfully fly in this exact scenario -- four adults in a 172M.  A many-fatal was avoided that day.  If you are ever thinking of doing anything similar, please remember this accident.
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StuSEL
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2013, 01:15:14 AM »

If you are ever thinking of doing anything similar, please remember this accident.
(Note: I have since amended what I said here; it appears this was not solely an overweight issue.)

If you ever see someone loading 4 full grown adults into small aircraft, don't be afraid to talk to the pilot about it. Make sure a weight and balance was performed, or see if he's using the right amount of fuel. It is possible to take a full load of passengers in a C172 as long as the fuel levels are appropriate.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2013, 12:35:27 AM by StuSEL » Logged

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pcarenthuz
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2013, 07:44:46 AM »

Tragic.

The crash was reported to be 50 feet past the departure end of the runway, 25 feet off the centerline.  He had not initiated any kind of turn as far as it is known.  Seems an awful lot like he couldn't climb, but kept pulling on the yoke anyway.  You can hear the stall horn blasting in the background of the recording.

(New to the forum)

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tommyrg
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2013, 06:56:00 PM »

I just taxied by the accident site ... It's a little north and east of the departure end of 9L ... From what I've heard, It seems the pilot left his flaps down (40 degrees) on takeoff ... As many of you know, a 172 won't climb with full flaps at any weight.
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martyj19
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« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2013, 07:30:35 AM »

As many of you know, a 172 won't climb with full flaps at any weight.

The NTSB preliminary has the statement "The flaps were found fully extended."

Full flaps needn't be a permanent condition.  I did forget them once myself on a touch and go.  Best to remove them slowly so you can keep control of the pitch change; every student learns to do this while coming out of slow flight or a power off stall.  With everything else going on, this may not have been possible to do or even helpful.

It might not be that the stall was caused by pulling back, although it would be a natural reaction.  If the CG is sufficiently aft, there will not be sufficient elevator authority to hold the nose down; and when the airplane is over gross, there may not be sufficient power to establish a positive climb at any deck angle.  The weather is hot and humid, so density altitude is working against you also.

What a sad case this is.
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Robert Larson
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« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2013, 06:22:16 PM »

While I was a student solo I practiced a short field TO with 25 flaps in a Warrior. Got all the way up to 2500' AGL before I finally figured out why I was climbing so slowly. Doh!   There's no checklist item to retract flaps. But I shoulda realized. Haven't forgotten since that lesson.   But I can see how someone could do this. Especially in a crowded aircraft. He probably thought he was overweight when all he really needed was to gradually take out the flaps.
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joeyb747
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« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2013, 06:42:09 PM »

I just taxied by the accident site ... It's a little north and east of the departure end of 9L ... From what I've heard, It seems the pilot left his flaps down (40 degrees) on takeoff ... As many of you know, a 172 won't climb with full flaps at any weight.

Is it SOP to set the flaps full on a 172 for take-off?? I am confused why the flaps were set to full in the first place...9L is almost 5700 feet long...defiantly not a short field...


* FlightAware_PTK_APD_AIRPORT DIAGRAM.png (59.75 KB, 387x594 - viewed 176 times.)
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martyj19
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« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2013, 07:59:51 PM »

I just taxied by the accident site ... It's a little north and east of the departure end of 9L ... From what I've heard, It seems the pilot left his flaps down (40 degrees) on takeoff ... As many of you know, a 172 won't climb with full flaps at any weight.

Is it SOP to set the flaps full on a 172 for take-off?? I am confused why the flaps were set to full in the first place...9L is almost 5700 feet long...defiantly not a short field...

It would be SOP to fully extend the flaps during the walkaround in order to check the flap extension mechanism for freedom of motion.  You would then retract them sometime before takeoff.  The 172M POH has this in the Before Takeoff checklist, though my practice is to do it right after engine start and then recheck.

A normal or short field takeoff is with flaps 0, and a soft field takeoff may be done with flaps 10.  "Flap settings greater than 10 degrees are not approved for takeoff."
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Robert Larson
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« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2013, 10:39:49 PM »

normal takeoff procedure is flaps up.
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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2013, 03:23:55 AM »

Probably never really understood the basic aerodynamics taught in ground school, figured that with high weight he would need full flaps for "more lift". I don't know how they do it today, but in my day you didn't learn about "balancing the field" (determining accelerate/stop distance) until you got into your commercial, only takeoff performance, so if a newbie finds he is not getting off the ground he thinks more about how to get up rather than getting back down on the ground and stopping safely. While balanced field takeoffs pertain to go/no go based upon V speeds and assume multi-engine operations, a single engine aircraft failing to get out of ground effect is similar to a multi not achieving V1 in time and requires the same decision. Further, in a high wing aircraft you don't get as much ground effect, which at least can enable the more practiced pilot to hold his wheels a few feet off the ground and accelerate more quickly for a bit until best angle or rate can be achieved. That's why I believe that practicing low approaches in ground effect and landing configuration while zig-zagging back and forth across the runway is invaluable for gaining experience in "flying" the plane in ground effect rather than simply transitioning through it for a few seconds on the way up or down. It also helps you improve your flare, improve your coordination cleaning up and climbing back out in a last second go-around (like a deer popping into your path), your ability to deal with cross wind gusts, etc. For you CFIs out there with a student who just can't get the flare right, have him fly a couple low approaches in ground effect, then just cut the throttle on him and watch him touch down on feathers. Even if you can't get a low approach due to traffic, at least see if you can get a long landing every once in a while, or do your touch&go mid field or, as I always did, practice just touching the mains (even just one at a time, rocking back and forth) while holding the nose off the ground, taking out flap, re-trimming and rolling on the power again... if you can do that smoothly and instinctively there is almost no takeoff or landing situation you will not be able to walk away from.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2013, 03:30:06 AM by InterpreDemon » Logged

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svoynick
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« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2013, 05:32:25 AM »

If you are ever thinking of doing anything similar, please remember this accident.
If you ever see someone loading 4 full grown adults into small aircraft, don't be afraid to talk to the pilot about it. Make sure a weight and balance was performed, or see if he's using the right amount of fuel. It is possible to take a full load of passengers in a C172 as long as the fuel levels are appropriate.

What size engine do you guys have in your 172's?  Back in the '80s, I trained in a couple of 150 hp 172's, ("L" model, I think they were...) and we regularly took team cross-country flights with an instructor, 3 students, and full fuel.  I'll have to go back and do a w/b, but our flight school was strict - memory fades, but I'm sure that was part of our prep.  Maybe we didn't go full fuel...  It's been many years since I've crunched those numbers - I'll have to see if I can download a POH and try it out.

I'm not arguing against the idea that you should be cautious and definitely make sure you've done the calculations, (and check in on anyone you see doing the same) but it's not like 4 adults in a 172 is a guaranteed fatal.

On the other hand, I do agree that with flaps 40 in a 172, you'd be lucky to get above 50 feet.
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martyj19
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« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2013, 06:55:46 AM »

For "M" model, 180hp Lycoming O-320
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joeyb747
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« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2013, 08:08:02 AM »

I just taxied by the accident site ... It's a little north and east of the departure end of 9L ... From what I've heard, It seems the pilot left his flaps down (40 degrees) on takeoff ... As many of you know, a 172 won't climb with full flaps at any weight.

Is it SOP to set the flaps full on a 172 for take-off?? I am confused why the flaps were set to full in the first place...9L is almost 5700 feet long...defiantly not a short field...

It would be SOP to fully extend the flaps during the walkaround in order to check the flap extension mechanism for freedom of motion.  You would then retract them sometime before takeoff.  The 172M POH has this in the Before Takeoff checklist, though my practice is to do it right after engine start and then recheck.

A normal or short field takeoff is with flaps 0, and a soft field takeoff may be done with flaps 10.  "Flap settings greater than 10 degrees are not approved for takeoff."


And @ Robert Larson;
That was what I was thinking it was...flaps 0 for take-off...
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mybad67
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« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2013, 06:16:51 PM »

It might be possible that he took off with 0 flaps, and once he realized he was heavy, He may have dumped in the 40 degrees while trying to land.

Just a thought
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StuSEL
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« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2013, 01:06:57 AM »

I'm not arguing against the idea that you should be cautious and definitely make sure you've done the calculations, (and check in on anyone you see doing the same) but it's not like 4 adults in a 172 is a guaranteed fatal.

Yes, you're absolutely right. The comments I had made were under the assumption that the accident was caused by an overweight issue. Given the NTSB's statement, it looks like this has more to do with the flap setting. I've flown with 4 people in a C172SP in the past, with enough fuel to put us over by literally a pound or two. Flights in the C172M are doable if you're overweight, but I wouldn't be one to do that.

I fly an identical model 172M, and the checklists we use call for the flaps to be put all the way down during the preflight, as do all C172s. The second item we perform on the Engine Start Checklist after the engine is started is to raise the flaps. During the Before Takeoff Checklist, the flaps are checked again. This could be a case of simply not following the checklist.

I still believe the student knew he was overweight before he departed. During the failing climb out, it seems he jumped to the immediate conclusion that he was having a problem due to this overweight condition, which was perhaps on his conscience as a new pilot. I doubt he realized at any point that the flaps were the issue.
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martyj19
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« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2014, 09:07:02 PM »

I have been keeping an eye on this one.  The NTSB probable cause report was recently released.

The pilot's failure to retract the wing flaps before attempting to take off, due to his lack of familiarity with the airplane make and model, which prevented the airplane from maintaining adequate altitude for takeoff.

http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief.aspx?ev_id=20130621X52631&key=1
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svoynick
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« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2014, 02:49:43 AM »

Interesting note here (to me, anyway...)  According to the NTSB report it appears that the aircraft was NOT overweight (although quite close to max gross.)  Which leads me to some interesting thoughts.  

First, given that he communicated to the tower that he was "a little overweight" - when he apparently was just within gross, according to the manufacturer's calculations in the NTSB report - makes me wonder whether he did a weight & balance calculation in the first place.  And if he didn't, but (correctly) suspected he was close, I wonder if, when he found he had poor climb performance, he jumped to the wrong conclusion, and focused in on the "overweight" issue, possibly missing the flaps.

Another interesting point, if he had recognized the flaps issue - possibly even if he had noticed earlier in the takeoff - the NTSB report points out a significant difference between the SR20 flap actuator and the one in the 172, in that, in the Cirrus, you move the actuator to a detent command position that you want the flaps to go to, then you can turn your attention (and your hand) elsewhere while they transition.  In the 172, the actuator is a spring-loaded "up/down" switch, and you have to actuate and hold the lever until the flaps actually reach the desired position.  

I wonder if, having taken virtually all his training hours in the Cirrus, and likely being a low-time pilot in the Cessna according to the report, whether he might have reverted to instinct during a high-workload moment, and thought he commanded the flaps to retract by briefly flipping the Cessna actuator "full up", and then letting go of it (which is how you'd do it in the Cirrus.)  However, in the Cessna, this would leave the flaps essentially fully down (if they were there to start with.)

Note: these comments are speculation - guesses.  I mean no disrespect to the pilot, nor is this intended as a personal judgment or "piling on" - only trying to draw lessons about cockpit procedures, problem solving, and decision making from the example this provides.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2014, 02:54:19 AM by svoynick » Logged
frcabot
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« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2014, 04:26:14 AM »

Having flown 172s extensively, including M, N, P, R and S models, I have only ever seen detent flap selectors (i.e., select 10, 20, 30, or in the case of the 172M and N models, 40 degrees -- later models reduced maximum flaps to 30 degrees partly because the 172 would not climb at all with 40 degree flaps, even with full power, and this was potentially an issue during a go-around if the pilot forgot to retract flaps to 20 degrees, as evidenced by this crash).
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frcabot
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« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2014, 04:30:19 AM »

BTW I realize the NTSB report states that the 172M flaps use a spring-loaded switch that must be held down, but I have NEVER seen such a switch in a 172. Every Cessna I've ever flown had a set-it-and-forget-it selector. Maybe this plane's configuration was an exception.

It is common practice to lower the flaps during the preflight inspection and raise them after. Witness(es?) stated that the plane was attempting to take off with flaps down, so it does not appear that the pilot simply lowered the flaps once he realized he was going to crash, as someone suggested here. From the NTSB report:

"Another witness, a pilot, was approaching runway 09L for landing. As he turned onto the base leg for runway 09L, N9926Q lifted off the runway. The pilot-witness noticed the airplane was not climbing as it should and it appeared the flaps were extended. As he turned onto final approach for landing, he saw the airplane "lagging" and "wallowing in the air with flaps extended." As he flared for landing, he heard the pilot of N9926Q tell the control tower that he was a little overweight and needed to return. The witness then saw the airplane about 100 to 200 feet in the air over the threshold of runway 27R, and its wings were "shaky." The left wing dipped and the airplane descended, struck the ground with its left wing, and pivoted 180 degrees. When the airplane struck the ground, a big divot of dirt was thrown into the air. A fire ball erupted about 3 to 5 seconds after impact."

Another witness however stated that the engine was "spitting and sputtering," then became quiet and lost power, then began "spitting and sputtering" again. The NTSB did not seem to credit this witness's account as the probable cause statement mentions nothing about engine problems, and attributes the crash to improper flap selection on takeoff. On the other hand, the engine had 2,352.8 hours SMOH, which is well over the 2000 TBO recommendation (i.e., this was an old engine that was not overhauled on the recommended schedule). The NTSB did say that there was "no evidence" of pre-impact power plant malfunction or failure, but the witness statement of a "spitting and sputtering" engine seems like "evidence" to me, so I don't think it's fair to say "no evidence." Maybe "no credible evidence."

Finally, if it had been an engine problem, one would expect the pilot to have communicated that. The pilot only said that he was "a little overweight" which suggests that the pilot didn't realize the reason the plane was not gaining altitude. A sputtering and quitting engine would have been obvious. Therefore the NTSB's conclusion that this was a flap error and not an engine malfunction seems to bear out.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2014, 04:39:44 AM by frcabot » Logged
martyj19
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« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2014, 07:11:11 AM »

I can promise you that the M models I got my license in had spring loaded flap selectors.  We used a three-count to estimate ten degrees up or down.  I have only seen the detent set and forget in the R and S.
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svoynick
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« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2014, 07:26:01 AM »

BTW I realize the NTSB report states that the 172M flaps use a spring-loaded switch that must be held down, but I have NEVER seen such a switch in a 172. Every Cessna I've ever flown had a set-it-and-forget-it selector. Maybe this plane's configuration was an exception.
Well, I guess I shouldn't have spoken so broadly, then - my mistake.  I've also flown extensively in 172's - took all my primary and most of my instrument training in two different "L" models and I assure you that they were spring-loaded up/down switches.  I clearly remember counting time to get down to 10 and 20 degrees, as well as having to hold onto that switch during the rollout on every T&G until they were fully up so I could free up my right hand, adjust the trim, close the carb heat, and throttle back up for takeoff. 

I also flew a few hours in N and M models, and I don't remember there being a detent type switch.  I would think I would have a memory of such a different control, but it was long enough ago that I can't be positive, and I'm certainly not questioning your experience.  Very interesting.

It is common practice to lower the flaps during the preflight inspection and raise them after. Witness(es?) stated that the plane was attempting to take off with flaps down, so it does not appear that the pilot simply lowered the flaps oncehe realized he was going to crash, as someone suggested here.
Yeah, I tend to agree.

Another witness however stated that the engine was "spitting and sputtering," then became quiet and lost power, then began "spitting and sputtering" again. The NTSB did not seem to credit this witness's account as the probable cause statement mentions nothing about engine problems, and attributes the crash to improper flap selection on takeoff. On the other hand, the engine had 2,352.8 hours SMOH, which is well over the 2000 TBO recommendation (i.e., this was an old engine that was not overhauled on the recommended schedule). The NTSB did say that there was "no evidence" of pre-impact power plant malfunction or failure, but the witness statement of a "spitting and sputtering" engine seems like "evidence" to me, so I don't think it's fair to say "no evidence." Maybe "no credible evidence."
Note that the plane was wallowing around and changing attitude in the final stages.  If someone was positioned to the side or rear of the aircraft, significant changes in attitude can make the engine (and especially the propeller sound, which is a significant part of what people think is the "engine"...) sound quite different.  From certain locations, it may well have sounded like the "engine" was changing its sounds significantly in that final phase, which a witness could perceive as "sputtering..."

Finally, if it had been an engine problem, one would expect the pilot to have communicated that. The pilot only said that he was "a little overweight" which suggests that the pilot didn't realize the reason the plane was not gaining altitude.
Yep, that was my thesis as well.
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robc
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« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2014, 06:34:36 PM »

This accident was featured in the latest AOPA safety blog:

http://blog.aopa.org/leadingedge/?p=4617

see also

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140213/METRO02/302130100
« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 06:47:34 PM by robc » Logged
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