…Planned To Complete A Local Flight To Evaluate The Autopilot’s Performance

Location: Connellsville, PA Accident Number: ERA22LA215
Date & Time: May 2, 2022, 15:50 Local Registration: N46TA
Aircraft: Cessna 414 Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Flight test

On May 2, 2022, about 1550 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 414 airplane, N46TA, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at Joseph A. Hardy  Connellsville Airport (VVS), Connellsville, Pennsylvania. The commercial pilot sustained minor injuries and the passenger sustained serious injuries. The flight was operated as a post-maintenance functional check flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot, who was also a mechanic, reported that prior to flight he had uninstalled and reinstalled the S-TEC autopilot mode control unit in the cockpit due to a discrepancy reported on a previous flight. He then planned to complete a local flight to evaluate the autopilot’s performance. The pilot stated that following a normal taxi and run-up, he initiated the takeoff. When the airplane reached rotation speed, he pulled back on the flight controls with one hand, however, the flight controls did not move. He then pulled aft on the flight controls with two hands, and when no movement was felt, he pulled both throttles to idle and applied maximum braking. The airplane was unable to stop on the remaining runway and continued off the runway, down a ravine and collided with trees and terrain, which resulted in substantial damage to the fuselage and wings.

The pilot reported that prior to the takeoff he performed a “complete run-up” and there was nothing “strange” with the flight controls.

Examination of the cockpit panel revealed that the left avionics stack contained a Garmin GNS 530 GPS and a Bendix-King KX-155 Navigation/ Communication receiver. The avionics tray that held the KX-155 unit was found stuck in the open portion of the elevator bellcrank. The tray displayed bending and the bellcrank displayed scratches. When the avionics tray was removed from the bellcrank movement area, the flight controls were manipulated with a full range of movement observed. The Garmin GNS530 and KX-155 avionics trays were secured to the front of the cockpit panel, however, there was no evidence that rear, or side straps, were installed on the avionics trays holding the rear portion of the avionics level. Review of FAA airworthiness records revealed that the Garmin GNS 530 was first installed in
2006.

The airplane was retained for further examination.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov