Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

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Wm.Ince
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Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby Wm.Ince » Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:30 pm

Bill Ince
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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby Scooper » Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:59 pm

The canopy on the Sport Cruiser hinges forward at the front similar to the Zenith Zodiac. Zenith has done a good job of modifying the Zodiac canopy latching system to greatly minimize the risk of the canopy accidentally opening in flight, but if it does open unintentionally it simply "floats" open a few inches and there will be lots of wind and noise, but it won't separate from the airplane.

The Zodiac POH emergency procedures section states:

CANOPY OPENING IN FLIGHT

• Concentrate on flying the airplane
REDUCE SPEED TO 60 KNOTS
• RAISE FLAPS
• Ignore the canopy and wind noise
• Fly a Normal approach and landing without flaps, including completing the landing checklist
• The canopy will remain in the open position about 1 foot

• If the canopy opens after liftoff, do not rush to land. Climb to normal traffic pattern altitude, fly a normal traffic pattern, and make a normal landing.
• Do not release the seat belt and shoulder harness in an attempt to reach the canopy. Leave the canopy alone. Land as soon as practicable, and close the canopy once safely on the ground.
• Do not panic. Try to ignore the unfamiliar wind. Also, do not rush. Attempting to get the airplane on the ground as quickly as possible may result in steep turns at low airspeeds and altitude.
• Complete all items on the landing checklist.
• Remember that accidents are almost never caused by an open canopy. Rather, an open canopy accident is caused by the pilot’s distraction or failure to maintain control of the airplane.


It will be interesting to read the NTSB probable cause.
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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby Warmi » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:04 pm

Here is a video of a crash-landing due to open canopy in a light sport - it starts at about 1:50
https://youtu.be/75EUWivxUFU

Read the history but basically the guy who crashed ( 50 years of experience ) claimed that the open canopy so badly affected the airflow he basically was unable to compensate...
Flying Sting S4 ( N184WA ) out of Illinois

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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby FastEddieB » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:21 pm

Not sure if I’ve posted this here before, but this is my experience from 2008...

Karen’s mom lives in Maryville, TN, and Karen still has a lot of friends in Knoxville, so every week or two she likes to visit. She had driven up Thursday. Saturday was a beautiful day in the southeast once the fog lifted, so I flew up in our Sky Arrow to pick her up.

It was a letter-perfect flight up. We ran some errands and then loaded up the plane to fly home. Another perfect flight, which took us over Fields of the Wood (the big Ten Commandments). We did a circle over that, flew over Copperhill, TN airport, then directly to Blue Ridge Skyport (57GA, my home base). Flew downwind, got full flaps in on base and was set up pretty much perfectly to slip between the trees on final and end another beautiful flight.

I was thinking what a pretty picture it would have made in the Sky Arrow, when at about 500’ and 55k I dropped the left wing and held some right rudder to slip down to the runway when...

...THE FREAKING CANOPY BLEW OPEN!!!

My Gander Mountain cap blew off, apparently exiting the plane. My headset, caught by the cord, ended up behind me.

I did not even consider futzing with the canopy. The relative wind was strong, but I had my glasses on and it wasn't worse than a motorcycle at about 65 mph.

Anyway, I did what I was taught to do: I flew the plane. In spite of the excitement I did a pretty darn good full-stall landing about 1/3 of the way down the 3,000’ runway.

As we taxied down the runway I looked around and saw the canopy latch was in the “OPEN” position.

We taxied back to the hangar and shut down. We exited the plane. I felt like such a doofus.

Inspecting the plane, it seems that, other than a broken restraining cable (the one that normally holds the canopy when it’s in the open position on the ground) and some composite damage under the canopy hinges, everything else is fine.

Image

It appears I never latched the canopy before takeoff in Knoxville. I’m amazed it gave no indication of that until it blew open.

I spent some time asking myself how, being “Mr. Checklist”, I could have missed something so important. We’re all human, but my checklist procedures are usually better than that.

In 80+ hours in the Sky Arrow I’d never forgotten the latch - I usually close and latch the canopy in one motion just prior to takeoff. But Karen remembers me closing it early in order to hear the ground controller better. Maybe that got me out of sequence somehow.

So, I got out my personalized checklist to see how I might have missed “Canopy - CLOSED AND LATCHED”, and guess what? It’s nowhere to be found.

The checklist that came with the Sky Arrow was about four pages long and contained so much extraneous stuff I streamlined it to essentials. Somehow I forgot to include the canopy check. Yikes!

Right now I can’t find the poster with the plane in the tree that talks about the unforgiving nature of flying. I’d say! A one-line omission one night in front of my computer while typing up a checklist could have cost us our lives!

I was never “scared” after the canopy blew open - I was too busy dealing with the landing. Afterwards I was mainly peeved at and disappointed in myself and trying to figure out how it happened. Only later have I been playing out all the ways it could have gone a whole lot worse.

Remember, the Sky Arrow has a pusher prop, so had the canopy departed the plane it could have taken out the prop. Not to mention the aerodynamic blanketing effect that open canopy might have had on the right aileron and flap and on the horizontal stabilizer, elevator and rudder. The Sky Arrow has a T-tail and that probably helped somewhat.

Anyway, what’s the lesson? USE YOUR CHECKLIST is obvious - forgetting the canopy latch is not something I’d want to do on a regular basis. But, equally important, CHECK YOUR CHECKLISTS, especially if you’ve modified, personalized or streamlined them in any way. Make sure ALL the important stuff is there.

And, in closing, let me just say what a trouper Karen is. She said she shouted “OMIGOD” when the canopy blew, not knowing if I had been injured or if I could control the plane. I don’t remember hearing her (but I was kinda focused on something else!). In any case she still has faith in me and is ready, willing and able to go up with me anytime.

I think I’ll keep her!


As a follow up, I added it to the checklist, put a “Canopy...LATCHED” sticker on my airspeed indicator and added a final canopy check in my takeoff flow right after “Airspeed...ALIVE”. Those things have have allowed me to avoid a recurrence to date.

Oh, and I found that image:

Image
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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby Warmi » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:42 pm

Man ... pretty intense :shock:

Was it fully open , as in that picture ?
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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby FastEddieB » Wed Dec 13, 2017 10:34 pm

Warmi wrote:Man ... pretty intense :shock:

Was it fully open , as in that picture ?


Yep, sure was!
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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby zaitcev » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:39 am


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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby Scooper » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:37 pm

zaitcev wrote:Here's an old classic
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGv0JqKJse4

That's pretty much what I would expect in a Sport Cruiser or a Zodiac.
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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby rsteele » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:51 pm

zaitcev wrote:Here's an old classic
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGv0JqKJse4


That is a classic. I hadn't seen it before. Thanks for posting.

I've not flown my Zodi yet, but was doing some engine tuning the other day. I started the engine without the canopy latched and as soon as the engine rev'ed about idle, the canopy picked right up to about 30 degs. I was a bit surprised that just minor prop wash would do that. I can see why some people have a "taxi latch" to use on hot days so they can keep the canopy cracked till they are done with run-up.

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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby Jim Hardin » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:36 am

There are some things that are just too important to leave to a checklist entry alone.

As I take to the runway, I always make some final checks, spoken out loud as I go. "Fuel Selector", "Fuel Pump", "Canopy Secure" (or doors latched) and "last look around".

Engine instruments will be check as the throttle is opened, but the point is CHECK the things that are really important! Other things like strobe lights on or radios set are not of immediate importance!

A similar check is done on short final.

Modify these to fit your aircraft but it is important that you don't get carried away or you end up with a 3 page verbal checklist that you aren't really paying attention to :)

Won't solve everything, but it will help.

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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby FastEddieB » Fri Dec 15, 2017 9:38 am

Excellent advice all around.

A proper checklist backed up by an established “flow” should work 99.99% of the time.

Still, it’s amazing how complacency, fatigue and/or distractions can sometimes waylay the best laid plans!
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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby TimTaylor » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:30 pm

When flying the Mooney, I would recite out loud, "gear down and locked" on short final. I still do that in the SkyCatcher and Remos. I would also touch the green lights.
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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby rcpilot » Fri Dec 15, 2017 6:30 pm

Ok, I'll fess up. Despite it being on my checklist to verify the canopy is latched, last summer I took off once with it unlatched. Not only that, as is my custom on really hot days, I had a piece of foam pipe insulation propping it open a bit on both sides. Needless to say I quickly realized my error. Once I climbed to pattern altitude I took out the foam but could not get it to latch. I held on with one hand until I was able to cut the power at which point it pretty much stayed put. Still not sure how I overlooked it but it will never happen again. I did admit my blunder to my instructor(at the time I was doing my solo work prior to my check ride). I followed his previous instructions about what to do if that happened, "just fly the plane". While it's unsettling, it certainly can be safely managed.

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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby Jim Hardin » Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:33 am

Not all aircraft are docile with a door or canopy open. Both change the airflow to the tail and when combined with the flap changes in airflow can make things interesting. A door on a low wing will also effect both the wing as well as the tail.

I flew with a guy that had his door come open on a Skycatcher (C162) and made a gradual full power descent into a nice forest landing... Cessna claims that can't happen but I wasn't in the plane so I am not so sure. The door did not rip off but deformed so the drag and aerodynamic effects are really unknown. Any "evidence" was destroyed in the crash.

Point is that a few positive outcomes do not a rule make. I agree, fly the airplane as best you can and make the best crash landing ever, if it comes to that :D

One other verbal short final check for our amphibian pilots: Water Landing - GEAR UP!
You can do a gear up landing on land with minimal destruction. But a gear down landing on water will have a disastrous effect Every Time it happens!

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Re: Non-fatal Sport Cruiser Accident

Postby Merlinspop » Mon Dec 18, 2017 8:18 am

With way the latch is configured in the SportCruiser down low at elbow level, with the headset plugs right there, it's easy for something to snag the T-handle and pull it up. If I owned one, I would be tempted to fashion some sort of guard to prevent something from accidentally hooking under that handle. A rectangle of vinyl window screen, wrapped over the handle on one end and attached to the panel with light velcro on the other would probably do the trick.
- Bruce


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