Friday, October 2, 2009

The Dan Lloyd report

The NTSB has now finalized its report into the November 2007 crash of Dan Lloyd's RV-10.

A posting on the RV-10 list just after it happened, and a prelimianry report from the NTSB, had tongues wagging that Dan took too many shortcuts in the construction of the RV-10.

The final report, however, was much less accusatory, though it did blame the crash on a $1.50 part:

Prior to a planned trip in the homebuilt airplane, the pilot/builder flew the airplane to assure that it was functioning properly. The airplane was observed to fly north on the east side of a state highway, and to make a circle to the left, approximately 500 feet above ground level (agl). The airplane then flew in a westerly direction, flew across the highway, then turned to the left while losing altitude. When it reached approximately 50 feet agl, while heading east, the airplane rolled wings level, impacted a cornfield, and a postimpact fire ensued.

Examination of the wreckage revealed that the engine was not producing power at impact. Both the non-certificated 220 horsepower engine, and the propeller, required a source of electricity to operate. On the night before the accident, the pilot moved the airplane's batteries from behind the baggage compartment to the forward cabin to change the center of gravity and re-wired the batteries into the electrical system. Examination of the electrical system revealed that a cable had become disconnected from an improperly crimped terminal.

There are so many lessons here, one of which is obvious. There shouldn't be a single point of failure that will render your plane useless. Have a backup electrical system, or -- in my case -- have one magneto with a Lightspeed ignition.

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