Legal and airworthy are two very different categories.
An airplane, certified or otherwise may be legal but it sure as hell may not be airworthy.
I may not be able quote air regs chapter and verse like ya'll but over the last 40 yrs I have developed a keen sense of airworthy and placards or not any time any airplane with me in it leaves the ground,,,,,,
It is airworthy.
Paperwork doesn't create lift.
Its not certain what caused this accident, seems to have been an engine problem leading to the stall, most likley, but not conclusive from what could be determined.
I dont know much about this engine but seems its a turbo VW I think, and is not likely to be as trouble free or reliable as a standard Cont of Lycoming like a Cub or Cessna. No engine is going to run with the mixture at cutoff, as it was found. Is that just a simple mistake that could have shut off the engine? Could the passenger have inadvertently moved the mixuture control? Or is it the venier type that doesnt move easily? Could they have taken off with the mixture in lean? The turbo probably calls for full rich on takeoff.
In that case, it is double sad that runway 18 with 8000 or so and a 1/2 mile overrun to the south or even full lenght on 9 of about 6000 ft was not used.They might well have had an engine problem with room to return to the runway and land and roll out safely if the pilot got the nose down to avoid a stall when the problem occured.
I dont know what the take off performance of this plane would be, Was 2500 ft normal or did the pilot attempt to lift off too soon on a warm day?
I was just talking to a friend about multi engine flying. He flies a Baron at Steamboat, abut 4400 ft runway at 6800 feet. He had a actual engine failure on takeoff and got safely back on the runway.
Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 03-22-2017 at 10:30 AM.
The potential for engine failure should be uppermost in any pilot's mind, but especially when operating a homebuilt. About 32% of all homebuilt accidents begin with a loss of engine power, due to mechanical, transient, or pilot issues. That's more than twice as often as, for instance, Cessna 172s. As this particular Sonex mounted an engine still under development, the likelihood was greater.
In about 9% of all homebuilt accidents, the cause of the loss of power was not able to be determined (what I phrase as "undetermined engine failure"). In comparison, only 3.2% of Cessna 172 accidents are due to undetermined engine failure. This is probably due to greater investigative attention being paid to crashes of production aircraft. Nearly 90% of RVs in accidents have traditional engines, but the Undetermined Engine Failure rate is 9.5%.
The "Runway Behind You" aspect of this case is unfortunate, but I personally don't strongly fault the pilot. This accident could have easily happened at any number of nearby airports where the total runway length was equal to that provided by the intersection takeoff. Yes, using the full length of the runway probably would avoided the deaths, possibly even damage to the aircraft. But had the engine failed 15 seconds earlier, or even 15 seconds later, the outcome would probably have been better, as well. Earnest Gann put it best: Fate is the Hunter. Pilots' lives hang on coincidences.
The act of flying an aircraft is the epitome of real-world risk management. Our lives do rest on our decisions. Ideally, we'd be left-brained automatons with ice flowing through our veins, assessing the risks against the potential rewards. Unfortunately, we're all too human. Our risk-analysis processing is affected by the need to get the task completed more quickly, or to save a few more dollars, even by the strains on our bladders.
Unfortunately, pulling OFF a risky move tends to reset risk aversion. We risk a shortcut through a bad neighborhood while driving home...and if we get away with it, we're more likely to use that shortcut again. Not supposed to stand on the top step of the stepladder...but geeze, it worked putting that one picture up. Flying nonstop from A to B may be a bit tight on gas...but heck, once you prove it can be done, why not do it again?
And that intersection takeoff saves 5-10 minutes, and keeps the engine from overheating on the ground. What's the chance the engine will fail at *exactly* the wrong moment?
Rationalization is a powerful force, and none of us are immune to it. Most of us, if we're honest, can probably find we're doing shortcuts that could bite us. We jack the plane up to work on it and don't bother with a safety block. We don't bother to put on the seatbelts when taxiing to the gas pumps. We don't ensure we've got up-to-date charts (or their electronic equivalent) onboard.
But we've got away with it, so far. The jack isn't going to fail, we're not getting in a taxi accident, we're not going to have to divert to an unfamiliar location.
Until it does, and until we do.
To close, let me make one plea: Don't think you're immune. I see too many people insisting I WOULDN'T DO THAT. The point is, at some given time, with some given conditions, with some given incentive, you might. You need to get away of the mindset telling yourself, "I always operate safely," because too often folks think that armors one against bad decisions.
Been there, done that. In the past, I was incredulous when pilots ran out of fuel. "How could they DO that???!!!" I'd fume.
Until the time I put 14 gallons into a 16 gallon Fly Baby tank. The circumstances were strange of course, but one aspect was my self-image as someone who would never run out of fuel. So of COURSE there was enough gas to get home.
There was, fortunately. But it certainly shocked me, realizing the risk I'd taken. And hopefully has made me just a little more safe.
As the saying goes: Be careful out there.
Engine failure at 100 feet with no warning is hard to fly out of. The natural reaction is a hesitation or pull up.
I did a practice takeoff engine failure in my Cherokee at 500 feet at the end of the runway. The plane instantly just fell and I instantly went to full power but barely recovered before hitting the trees. Don't try that. It wasn't like the glider I trained in.
Bill in a Cherokee this happened. Imagine being in a draggy HB like most of them are. What happens they end up slamming into the ground almost flat. I know a Mini-max this happened to. The pilot lost engine at around 100'. He landed wings level. The airplane was not hurt that bad from the pics, wings still attached and not broke into. But he was killed. He slammed her into the ground.
One day this man and I were shooting e-mails back and fourth and the next day I am told this happened. He was telling me his rotax was giving him issues and wanted to see my mounts for a vw setup. The next day I learn of this. It's been a few years since this happened.
I occasionally try "The Impossible Turn" at altitude, in my Fly Baby. The first time, I was shocked at how much altitude that 180-degree turn cost me. I'd delayed recovery for one second to cover the YGTBSM factor, and lost something like 700 feet by the time I was wings level in the opposite direction. I practiced a bit and got the loss down to 500 feet or less, but it was enough to convince me it wasn't worth trying in a real engine-failure event.
Originally Posted by Bill Berson
The white smoke trail perhaps indicates a gradual loss of power. That can be worse than a dead cold stoppage, I think.
A partial power loss doesn't require an instant switch to glider mode, so the pilot lets the speed get low while figuring options. At least it did to me.
Really, the only option is push forward to keep glide speed and aim for the clearest parking lot.
Even if he had used all 6000 feet and got to 200 feet high at the end of the runway, a straight ahead impact is still best in most cases because turns take energy and then you are landing downwind. And turning downwind fools the pilot into thinking he has good airspeed even while dropping rapidly.
It's too bad there is no safe way to practice. The altimeter isn't accurate and fast enough to show true altitude loss when done at a safe 4000 feet in practice, I think. So a dead stick turn can take more actual altitude than you think.
I tried flying level along side a long flat topped mountain at 3500 feet above the valley for safe recovery in case of spin. I pulled the power to idle and did turns while dropping below the mountain top. That didn't help much either without markers on the mountain.
Last edited by Bill Berson; 03-22-2017 at 08:10 PM.
But if you stabilize at <say> 80 knots and 4,000', do the impossible turn, and stabilize afterwards, don't you know your altitude loss? You could even use your GPS for altitude.
Originally Posted by Bill Berson
You could try that. No GPS when I did the mountain thing about 40 years ago.
Originally Posted by Kyle Boatright
Not sure how often a GPS recalculates.
Try a full power nose high climb and then chop the power simulating a takeoff failure, wait till stall speed and see how much altitude is lost.
Warning! Don't do this unless you are spin trained and know how to do it safely.
Last edited by Bill Berson; 03-22-2017 at 08:28 PM.
I'm probably fooling myself, but I have practiced the impossible turn multiple times. With the RV, I typically climb at >100 knots, which is 2x stall speed. That gives me a lot of time to fumble with stuff before the airplane is going to stall. But, what I do when I simulate the engine failure is to count "one potato, two potato, three potato", then begin to drop the nose and make the turn. Without making any overly aggressive (IMO) maneuvers, I can put the RV back on the runway from a relatively low altitude. But I absolutely recognize that >100 knots and 2x stall speed is a benefit of the excellent performance of the RV, and many airplanes (and their pilots) don't have that luxury.
Originally Posted by Bill Berson