09 July 2014

NTSB Report: Mechanical Problem Discovered

Our hearts break at any tragic death, and this one would have been so easily preventable. From today's Alaska Dispatch:

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report for the July 2 crash of a Piper PA-12 at Merrill Field. The accident, which resulted in the death of 61-year-old pilot and sole occupant Charles Hancock, occurred shortly after takeoff at 8:20 a.m. A post-crash examination of the aircraft's elevator control cables showed they were misrigged and "... attached to the incorrect (opposite) locations on the elevator control horn, resulting in a reversal of elevator control inputs."

According to the report, the airplane had been undergoing extensive maintenance for about five years and neither the airplane's co-owner nor others at the airport were aware of it having been flown before the accident flight.
... However, after establishing elevator control cable continuity, the NTSB investigator determined that "manipulating the rear control stick aft (to command airplane nose-up) resulted in cable movement corresponding with a downward deflection of the elevator (which would result in airplane-nose-down flight)."

That would do it.

APD Names Victim in Fatal Merrill Field Plane Crash
from www.ktuu.com

KTUU, Channel 2 news in Anchorage, reported yesterday that the NTSB investigators can't find the repair log(s) that the owner should have kept. He was apparently working on the plane himself, and it would seem that he didn't ask anyone to double-check his work before taking off.

NTSB officials have been able to verify that much of the maintenance done to Hancock's plane was performed by Hancock himself. However, in most cases when a pilot is taking responsibility for their own repairs an engineer will typically double-check any maintenance performed, said spokesperson Clint Johnson. It's unclear whether or not that happened this time, Johnson noted. Further, Johnson noted Hancock was not a certified aviation mechanic.

... Also unusual Johnson said, NTSB investigators are having a difficult time locating any maintenance records for Hancock's PA-12. Hancock didn’t typically keep his plane at a dedicated hangar space, Johnson said, rather it was stored at a private residence where much of the repair work was done.

There's more at the links.


ProudHillbilly said...

It's one thing to change the oil and spark plugs in your own car. I'd be much more nervous about doing major work on something that takes me off the ground without someone knowledgeable looking over my shoulder.

So sad, particularly since so easily avoidable.

Rev. Paul said...

Agreed, PH. Didn't need to happen.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Sad, sad story. Having worked on a Pieper J-4 my father and I owned, I can see how it could happen.

Rev. Paul said...

Mistakes happen. It's a shame he didn't have anyone check his work, though.

Old NFO said...

OH damn...

Rev. Paul said...

I had the same general response, NFO. Such a waste.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Oh, bloody hell.

I know how easy that is to do. That's why you do full tests every damned time you touch anything with the controls. With someone watching, who isn't wrapped up in "Okay, no binding, smooth pull, life is good..."

That's also part of why you do it before every single flight. So when you do this, the last check if everyone else missed it, right before takeoff, has you going "wait. wait. what? that wasn't what happened every other time since I set foot in an airplane."

Such a misbegotten, damned stupid waste.

Rev. Paul said...

Understood, Wing. I'm even more sorry if he was someone you knew.

So completely unnecessary.