A Maximum Altitude Of About 1,800 Ft MSL Was Reached, Which Was Subsequently Followed By A Rapid Descent
Location: Statesboro, GA Accident Number: ERA22FA083
Date & Time: December 7, 2021, 21:24 Local Registration: N5776B
Aircraft: Cessna 182 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal
On December 7, 2021, at 2124 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182 airplane, N5776B, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Statesboro, Georgia. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.
According to a family member who spoke with the pilot the evening of the accident, she had flown from Florida into the Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport (TBR), Statesboro, Georgia, for a meeting in the local area and planned to return that night.
Review of preliminary Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data found that the airplane departed runway 14 at 2121. Shortly after takeoff, the flight track turned south, climbed to about 1,000 ft mean sea level (msl), and then about 1.8nm south of TBR, the airplane entered a left turn. The airplane continued in a left 360° tightening turn where a maximum altitude of about 1,800 ft msl was reached, which was subsequently followed by a rapid descent. The final position recorded at 2124:32 was about .10-mile from the initial impact which showed the airplane headed east at an altitude of 575 ft msl.
Multiple witnesses reported observing and/or hearing the airplane in-flight. An witness located at the TBR airport parking lot saw the takeoff. The airplane’s lights were on, and it sounded as if the airplane was climbing “steeply”, and the engine noise was loud.
Two additional witnesses who were together, located near the airplane’s final few seconds of flight, reported seeing the airplane while outside in a driveway. One witness reported, she heard a low flying airplane that sounded like a “crop duster” and “got louder.” She then saw the right side of the airplane and it appeared to be flying in a “curved” descent that continued into a “rapid descent.” When the airplane first came into view, she could not recall observing lights or a glow from the airplane, however, as it flew away from her position, she saw a “sparkler glow” before it impacted the ground. The other witness also reported observing the airplane fly nearby in a descent that continued into a rapid descent into a field just beyond his view. He added that when the airplane flew by, he could see “lights on the bottom” of the airplane. When asked specifically if he recalled seeing the airplane on fire in the air, he stated “No. It was not.” Two additional witnesses heard the airplane while in their houses. One of these witnesses was a private pilot and reported that due to the proximity of his house to the airport, he was accustomed to hearing airplanes, but this airplane was “unusually low.” He added that the sound dissipated, but a few minutes later, he heard the airplane again where it sounded like “the engine was screaming” as if the “throttle was through the panel.” The other witness located near the accident site in her home reported that she heard an engine noise until a “thud” was heard.
According to Federal Aviation Administration airman records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, with instrument airplane. She was issued a second-class medical certificate on December 3, 2020, at which time she reported a total of 4,000 flight hours and 200 hours within the last 6 months of the exam.
The wreckage was highly fragmented and was oriented on a debris path of about 110° magnetic. The initial impact ground scar was located about 220 ft from the main wreckage final resting location and the elevation was about 175 ft msl. Evidence of thermal damage was observed at the main wreckage. Figure 2 provides an overview of the major components of the airplane located at the accident site.
All major components of the airplane were located in the debris path. Debris located in the initial impact scar indicated that the airplane impacted terrain in a descending left bank which was evident due to the co-location of the left-wing tip and additional left-wing fragment. Partial flight control continuity was established from the respective flight control surfaces to the flight controls. The flight control cables that had separated were observed to be consistent with overload and impact related separation.
The fuel selector had separated from its attach point. Its valve position was found set the BOTH position. The elevator trim jack screw was observed to be in a position near the takeoff setting.
The instrument panel was heavily fragmented, but several instruments were located in the debris path. A turn coordinator was found displaying a left turn, beyond a standard rate turn. The heading indicator displayed 090°. The attitude indicator displayed a 50° left bank and a 30° pitch up attitude. The altimeter was found to display 480 ft with an altimeter setting of 30.07. An oil pressure gauge was found indicating 30 psi, which was in the green range. The oil temperature gauge indicated 150°F.
The engine sustained heavy impact and thermal damage. Its underside displayed significant damage that allowed the core of the engine to be visible without disassembly. The camshaft was continuous from the forward and rear section of the engine. Each cylinder displayed varying degrees of impact damage. The top spark plugs were examined and displayed combustion signatures ranging from normal to worn-out normal when compared to the Champion Aerospace Aviation Check-A-Plug chart. Each cylinder was examined with a borescope. Each valve displayed varying degrees of carbon deposit build-up, however, no cylinder or piston head displayed mechanical damage and each cylinder was free from any large debris. The engine was attempted to be rotated by hand. It could not be rotated through a full engine cycle due to impact damage, however, a small degree of rotation resulted in the movement of valves on both sides of the engine.
The vacuum pump remained attached to the accessory section of the engine with safety wire and screws firmly secured to its casing. It rotated normally when its drive gear was rotated by hand. The fuel manifold remained intact and the respective fuel lines were continuous to the cylinders. The propeller had separated from the propeller hub. Its blades exhibited varying degrees of blade polishing, leading edge gouging, chordwise scratches, and torsional twisting. According to FAA contract Flight Service Station provider Leidos, there was no record that the pilot filed a flight plan or requested an official weather briefing via telephone or online. There was also no record of the pilot contacting FAA air traffic control before or during the flight. The wreckage was retained for further examination.