Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Phillips crash explained

Canadian authorities have released more information into the crash that killed RV-7A builder Andy Phillips near Madoc in January.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, the plane lost its rudder and vertical stabilizer:

Ken Webster, a senior investigator with the Transportation Safety Board, said the loss of the tail would have sent Phillips’ home-built Vans RV-7A out of control.

“The aircraft experienced an in-flight separation of the vertical-stabilizer and the rudder,” Webster told the Citizen. Without these components, “it would be very difficult to control the aircraft.”

This will certainly get the attention of the RV-building community. The vertical stabilizer is attached to the horizontal stabilizer by a plate with four bolts. The rear of the stabilizer is attached to the rear bulkhead of the fuselage via its spar with four bolts and two others that attached to an angle which is,in turn, bolted to the fuselage.

Three bolts through three hinges attach the rudder to the vertical stabilizer.

Those two components should not be separating from the fuselage and this is now the mystery. How could they?

“We’ll be doing further analysis on (the stabilizer and rudder) in our lab in the next few weeks, and we’ll hopefully be able to determine the sequence of events which led up to the departure of the vertical-stabilizer and the rudder,” Webster said.


  1. I always wonder what kind of stresses the aircraft had been put thru prior; Aerobatics...hard landings...turbulence. Sometimes the blame is on events recently prior to the incident. A look at the life-span of aircraft may tell more.

  2. The Ottawa Sun newspaper has mentioned the TSB believes a 14lb eagle may have struck the tail.

  3. The first year my RV-6 was flying (2001), a duck hit the vertical stab at an angle from the left side. I was doing about 130 kts and climbing at the time. The stab skin was caved in and the main stab spar was acually bent. Inspection revealed no stress to any of the attach points, though.

  4. is it similar to this crash, pilot radio he lost control of the plane while it went down.