Sept. 7 – A single-engine plane that crashed near Lansing in 2019, killing five Indiana men, was overweight and unbalanced, the National Transportation Safety Board found.
The plane, a six-person Socata TBM 700 C2 single-engine turboprop, was more than 230 pounds overweight when it took off from Indy South Greenwood Airport in Greenwood, Indiana on October 3, 2019, according to the report. The information was dated August 30 by the NTSB. The report details factual information about the flight and precedes a final report that would determine a probable cause of the crash.
“On takeoff, the aircraft weighed approximately 232 pounds over the maximum allowable takeoff weight and approximately 2.53 inches beyond the rear [center of gravity] limit,” the report said.
At impact, the plane weighed about 126 pounds over the maximum allowable landing weight and 2.95 inches beyond the rear center of gravity limit, according to the report.
The center of gravity is the point at which an aircraft would balance if suspended at this point and is essential for optimal control of the aircraft. Forward and aft limits are prescribed by the aircraft manufacturer based on weight distribution. The captain must know these limits, which may change as the aircraft burns fuel.
A heavy-tail aircraft would be harder to control, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The crash happened at 8:58 a.m. as the plane descended to the Capital Region International Airport in Lansing. Data from the last minutes of the aircraft’s flight show that just before impact, it began to turn to the left of the runway, gained just over 10 feet in altitude and decreased speed.
The accident report included a 2014 study by the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses which found that six of 36 accidents involving Socata TBM 700 C2 aircraft flew left of planned flight paths on final approach. and lost control at low speed. Planes become more difficult to control when rolling to the left at speeds below 70 knots, according to the study. According to the study, additional training for low-speed pilots could help prevent similar accidents.
The aircraft crashed in an open grass field approximately 0.3 miles northwest of a runway threshold at Lansing Airport.
The crash left a 135-foot-long “ground scar” on the ground after the initial impact, investigators said. The wings and tail remained attached to the fuselage. All flight control surfaces remained attached, they found.
“The post-crash examination revealed no anomalies that would have prevented normal operation of the aircraft before it collided with terrain,” according to the summary of the accident site examination. and the wreckage of the NTSB.
The pilot, who received his commercial pilot certificate on May 8, 2019, and four passengers were killed. A passenger was seriously injured.
Those who died in the crash were:
— Pilot Joel Stewart Beavins, 48, of Franklin, Indiana.
— Timothy Joe Clark, 67, of Franklin, Indiana, qualified pilot’s mate.
— John Thomas Lowe, 51, of Greenwood, Indiana.
— Neil Alan Sego, 46, of Trafalgar, Indiana.
— Zacharie Eugene Bennett, 27, of Plainfield, Indiana
Aaron Levi Blackford, 42, of Frankton, Indiana, survived.
The passengers, who worked for Indiana-based engineering firms, were contractors for Delta Energy Park, a natural gas-fired power plant for the Lansing Board of Water and Light that celebrated its grand opening last month.
The plane had about 202 gallons of fuel before departure and used about 70 gallons during the flight. The aircraft’s maximum takeoff weight was 7,394 pounds. Based on the amount of fuel and the reported weights and seating positions for the pilot and passengers, the pre-flight takeoff weight was 232 pounds over the limit.
The aircraft manufacturer calculated the aircraft’s aerodynamic stall speeds while operating above maximum landing weight with a modified center of gravity. The stall speed is estimated at 62 knots with landing gear and flaps extended for landing and 79 knots with landing gear and flaps retracted.
It is difficult for an aircraft operating with a center of gravity beyond typical limits to recover from an aerodynamic stall, according to the FAA’s Aircraft Weight and Balance Handbook.
The factual report reveals the plane’s last five minutes of flight, after taking off from Indiana at 8 a.m. At 8:34 a.m., the small craft began to descend to an altitude of 3,000 feet above mean sea level.
Communications from air traffic control indicate that the flight received instructions to join the locator of the runway’s Instrument Landing System, a system that helps guide the aircraft’s approach to the runway.
At 0853, the pilot was instructed by the airport approach controller to maintain an altitude of 3,000 feet above mean sea level until he entered the beacon. localizer of the instrument landing system of the runway. FAA Automatic Dependent Surveillance (ADS-B) data indicated that the aircraft had joined the localizer.
At 0854, the pilot established communications with the airport tower controller who reported, “Winds are calm…cleared to land.”
At 0855, the aircraft reached 2,367 feet above mean sea level, the altitude of the final approach fix, traveling at a speed of 166 knots. The plane continued to descend along the proper glide path for an aircraft preparing to land, investigators found.
At 0857, the aircraft was half a mile from the runway threshold, approximately 1,047 feet above mean sea level (180 feet above ground level) and traveling at 84 knots when it started a shallow climb and left turn going away from the track. The aircraft climbed to a height of 1,059 feet above mean sea level and plummeted at a speed of 74 knots approximately 0.35 mile west of the runway threshold. This is the last recorded ADS-B data.
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