IT SHOULD NOT HAPPEN TO YOU
COMANCHE ACCIDENTS, 6.2003, AND A CASE
by Omri Talmon
COMANCHE ACCIDENTS, 6.2003
6.1 Date: 06/02/2003. Acft: PA-24-250, Description: PILOT STATED THAT THE ENGINE QUIT, LANDED IN A GRASS FIELD, OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES UNKNOWN, CAMARILLO, CA, Damage: Unknown, Two occupants, no injuries.
The following comments about this accident were sent by Dr. Roger Smith:
"Here are more details on the Comanche that went down at Shaniko, Oregon about May 2. There is no airport at Shaniko on the Sectional chart.
The PIC was a professional pilot who flies Lears and Gulfstreams for a local company. He and a friend rented the Comanche 250 to go to Salt Lake City on personal business. They logged 8 ½ hours that day. Coming home, southeast of The Dalles (which is where the mountains begin for the Cascade Range), at dusk just before sunset the engine failed at 10,000 feet. Ball bearings in the magneto failed leading to catastrophic failure of a cam. That is what I was told, anyway. The 900-hour engine would not go. The terrain there is rolling grasslands, open range for cattle and 4,000 feet msl.
The pilot headed for a road, but on the way down he saw what appeared to be a grass strip about 10 miles south of Shaniko with a perfectly good graded grass landing strip. He put it down there nice as you please, gear down. Nothing injured. Pushed it off to one side and looked about for someone to talk to. There is nothing there but a locked barn. Absolutely empty place otherwise. They had five cell phones between the two of them. Couldn't raise a thing on any of them. So it's now getting quite dark and they set out to walk.
Walking along the highway, they didn't get far before a truck stopped for them. He had a CB radio, and called the State Police. The State troopers met them on their way and took them in their car to The Dalles, from where they called one of their wives to drive out (100 miles or so) and get them at a truck stop/restaurant. They knocked on the owner's door the next morning at 6:30 with news of where they had left his airplane. He and his son flew out and inspected it, contacted the strip's owner, and later went back with a truck and took the engine off it. The aircraft had a new engine installed in the field and was flown home by the owner July 2nd.
The grass strip on which it was landed was 2800 feet long and rising. By good luck he landed at the low end."
6.2 Date: 06/06/2003. Acft: PA-24-180, Description: ACFT PERFORMING TOUCH AND GO'S ON RWY 22R, LANDING GEAR COLLAPSED, MESA AZ, Damage: Minor, one occupant, no injuries.
6.3 Date: 06/10/2003. Acft: PA-24-250. DESCRIPTION: ACFT MADE A FORCED LANDING ON HIGHWAY 95 DUE TO A LOST ENGINE, OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES ARE UNKNOWN, 15 MILES NORTH OF FALLON, NV
Damage: Substantial. One occupant, no injuries.
6.4 Date: 06/13/2003. Acft: PA-24. DESCRIPTION: ACFT ON TAKEOFF, SETTLED INTO A MUDDY FIELD, OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES ARE UNKNOWN, PRIVATE STRIP, HARVEY, ND. Damage: Substantial. Two occupants, no injuries.
6.5 Date: 06/16/2003. Acft: PA-24-180. DESCRIPTION: ACFT LANDED RUNWAY R19R WITHOUT LANDING GEAR, CONCORD, CA. Damage: Minor. One occupant, no injuries.
6.7 Date: 06/16/2003. Acft: PA-30. DESCRIPTION: ACFT CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES, TWO PERSONS ON BOARD WERE FATALLY INJURED, ACFT WAS A SUBJECT OF AN ALERT NOTICE, NEW PHILADELPHIA, OH. Damage: Destroyed. Two occupants, fatally injured.
Remark: The latest NTSB investigation is ruling fuel mismanagement, followed by a stall and spin.
6.8 Date: 06/16/2003. Acft: PA-24-260. DESCRIPTION: ACFT ON LANDING ROLLOUT, LANDING GEAR RETRACTED, MITCHELL, SD. Damage: Minor. One occupant, no injuries.
6.9 Date: 06/28/2003. Acft: PA-24-260. DESCRIPTION: ACFT, ON LANDING, ALL WHEELS COLLAPSED, OGDEN, UT. Damage: Minor. Two occupants, no injuries.
Accident occurred Friday, November 20, 1998 in CAMARILLO, CA. Aircraft: Piper PA-30B, Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.
After departing Van Nuys, the multiengine rated pilot and his instructor practiced maneuvers for the commercial multiengine rating. They proceeded to the Camarillo airport to practice landings, and en route the instructor reduced power on the right engine to simulate an engine failure. The pilot thought he was wide turning base to final due to wind, but felt he was still in a good position to land. The instructor felt the approach was angled but would allow a normal landing. On final approach the pilot noted the airspeed was approximately 10 miles per hour faster than the 90 miles per hour recommended approach speed. He lowered 10 degrees of flaps. Several hundred yards short of landing he felt the wind would cause him to land short of the runway threshold so he added power to the left engine and the aircraft immediately yawed to the right. The nose went up and then came down. The right wing struck the ground first and the aircraft came to rest at the right side of the overrun, short of the displaced threshold.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control and the flight instructor's inadequate supervision.
On November 20, 1998, at 1401 hours Pacific standard time, a Piper PA-30B sustained substantial damage while attempting a simulated single engine landing at the Camarillo, California, airport. The pilot/owner was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The instructional flight departed Van Nuys, California, about 1300. The private, multiengine rated pilot sustained minor injuries; the instructor pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed.
The pilot was seeking a commercial multiengine rating; he and the instructor had flown three previous flights together. After departure they proceeded to the practice area and conducted their training maneuvers for 10 to 15 minutes, and upon completion, they turned towards Camarillo for practice landings. En route to Camarillo the instructor reduced power on the right engine to simulate an engine failure. The aircraft entered the traffic pattern for runway 26. The pilot stated he felt the wind was strong. He thought he was wide turning base to final because of the wind, but that he was still in a good position to land. The instructor stated the aircraft was angling toward the runway on final but was in position to make a normal landing. The pilot flew the approach 10 miles per hour over the recommended approach speed of 90 miles per hour. He added 10 degrees of flaps. As the pilot was about to initiate his flare he became concerned that the aircraft would touchdown short of the displaced threshold. He added power to the left engine. The airplane immediately yawed to the right; the nose of the aircraft rose up and then fell down. The right wing struck the ground and the aircraft came to rest at the side of the overrun, short of the displaced threshold. Both sets of propeller blades were bent and both engine cowlings exhibited crush damage. The empennage, fuselage, and wings were buckled and crushed.
The pilot had the airplane retrofitted with shoulder harnesses a few years prior to the accident and felt they were a positive factor regarding injuries.
The pilot had 800 hours in this make and model. The instructor had a total of 56.6 hours in multiengine aircraft; 2.3 were in this make and model,
A twin is more costly to buy and operate, less efficient, and carries no more than a comparable single. Why do pilots buy and/or fly twins? Primarily, for the redundancy. The idea is that if a single loses an engine it becomes a glider, but if a twin loses one it becomes a single. This is a source for errors. A twin which loses an engine becomes a bad single, with severe operational limitations. In particular, at the low end of the speed envelope.
The twin will not fly on one engine below the speed known as Vmc (mc for minimum control). The Twin Comanche is notorious for that part of the operation envelope, as its reactions below Vmc may be sudden and violent. A good description is given elsewhere in this website by the article "Vmc Upset – Twin Training in the Extreme" by Glenn Plymate.
Some basic rules which apply to flying a twin on one engine were not applied in this case. For example, shoot long if the conditions allow. The Camarillo runway is 6,010 feet long, so there was no reason and no necessity to undershoot. More important, use no power on the healthy engine below or near Vmc.
This case is a good testimony for shoulder harnesses, and a bad testimony for instructors with little or no Twin Comanche experience.
The engine loss was not real but simulated. As the trainee pilot actually flunked the approach there was no reason for not applying power to both engines.
Power at or below Vmc is not an option; it is an absolute no-no.
Speed is life; altitude is life insurance.
Omri Talmon, born in 1936, lives in Tel Aviv, Israel, He holds degrees in engineering, business administration and accounting, Presently a consultant, he worked for many years as an executive for several hi-tech companies, Omri is a private pilot with both Israeli and U.S, certificates, His ratings include SEL, MEL, Instrument, Glider, and CFI (glider), Since 1974 he owns and flies a 1966 PA-30-B, registration 4X-CAO.