Fatal Gyro Accident in Putnam County, Fl

fara

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Tony Mattioli was a friend of mine and member of the South Eastern Rotorcraft Association in Columbia.

He had been planning to fly his new AR-1 up from FLA after he got comfortable with it and flew off enough hours, etc. In fact, he was about to abandon his CUB hanger when he bought the AR1, but after we met he decided to keep it and fly up in his gyro so we could go out and bomb the local fields together south of town.

His hanger was across from mine at CUB, and when he first saw me with gyrocopters spilling out of my hanger he came over and introduced himself. At the time I was building Geoff Resney's Air Command tandem Yamaha 165HP EXUP "Godzilla", and had not yet returned my own Air Command tandem Yamaha 140HP to service so I had only a promise to offer him at the time for a ride.

Was hoping to find some new information about his death here. Reading Fara's info that there was a good chance there was an operational EFIS recording parameters on board at the time of the crash got my interest, to say the least. Because when I received the call just hours after they found Tony that sad Saturday in December after he went down the first thing that came to mind was the fact that he was flying a Rotax 914.

You see, Vance B reported on RF no less than 5, personal, Rotax 914 engine outs & forced landings in a couple of enclosed eurotubs over a relatively short span of time. How many 914 bulletins have been issued to date?

It is NOT reasonable to imagine that anyone - let alone a truly experienced and fully capable pilot in FW and rotorcraft - caught in low cloud cover and even perhaps fog would ignore his #1 most basic and important instrument: Altimeter.

What IS reasonable to imagine is that he was not very high up due to low cloud cover when his Rotax 914 engine quit, and he simply could not glide to a suitable LZ.

I am familiar with your acquaintance with Tony. Tony did talk about you.
Tony was brand new to rotorcraft just getting his Gyroplane add on. I would not call that experienced in rotorcraft. He probably had gathered about 75 to 80 hours in Gyroplanes including his training. But he was a decent pilot. I flew with him a couple of hours.

He was an instrument rated airplane pilot. His Gyroplane had a MGL Extreme EFIS but not an AHRS sensor. Just a GPS derived attitude which obviously isn’t always accurate. Tony only wanted to fly VFR in the gyro. There is nothing legal about IFR in a gyro and Tony had added a Sport Pilot Gyroplane rating.

Looking at ADSB report the scenario of engine out does not make sense to me though it’s not impossible. The last 2 minutes of flight ADSB shows an increase of speed from 58 knots to 76 knots and flight from 975 feet MSL to 725 feet MSL and that is where ADSB data ends. He was found one mile further in the same path in a heavily wooded swamp. If Tony had an engine out why would he increase speed by 18 knots when he already was close to best glide speed and go 2 minutes losing altitude slightly over a swamp?

Anyway, they will have to confirm the engine operation when they decide they can travel and inspect the gyro. Right now they are saying they are restricted to travel due to Covid.

Tony also owned a Tecnam with a 914 engine as well. He obviously liked that engine owning two aircraft with the same exact engine. Tony seems to have already flown off his Phase 1 hours because he had flown cross country flights outside the designated radius.
 
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loftus

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Rotax 914 engines are pretty reliable assuming installed and maintained correctly.
Just an incidental note about Rotax 914 and turbos. I spoke to Tony about a week or ten days before he passed away as he was hangered across from me in Deland. Tony had just had a problem with the wastegate in his Tecnam sticking with loss of power. He acnowledged it was a maintenance issue. I do not think this had anything to do with his accident in his new AR-1, but just post this for those with 914's.
 

fara

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Just an incidental note about Rotax 914 and turbos. I spoke to Tony about a week or ten days before he passed away as he was hangered across from me in Deland. Tony had just had a problem with the wastegate in his Tecnam sticking with loss of power. He acnowledged it was a maintenance issue. I do not think this had anything to do with his accident in his new AR-1, but just post this for those with 914's.

yeah waste gate cable is supposed to be oiled at annuals. Plus I showed Tony in preflight to turn Master switch on and physically check the motion that makes on cycling the waste gate. I can understand that’s much harder to check in a cowled engine. It does not seem to me that this was engine related because of what I wrote above but I am sure they will bring in a Rotax tech to verify engine working.
last time an AR-1 with 914 landed out and they investigated, the same engine ran fine with new gas and new prop right away. Turned out engines don’t like running on a gallon of water in the tank.
 

XXavier

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Two questions for those who have experienced a complete (zero boost) in-flight turbo failure with a Rotax 914: Is the power output below 4500 rpm significantly reduced...? Is the gyro still able to fly level out of ground effect...?
 

fara

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Two questions for those who have experienced a complete (zero boost) in-flight turbo failure with a Rotax 914: Is the power output below 4500 rpm significantly reduced...? Is the gyro still able to fly level out of ground effect...?

it becomes a 912UL (80 HP) engine essentially. You can maintain level flight but climbing is significantly reduced. I experienced it in a Searey amphibian airplane not in a gyro. Searey is probably one airplane as draggy as a modern open cockpit Gyroplane. Burns the same fuel at same cruise speed.
The turbo starts kicking in significantly around 4500 RPM so below it the power is about the same.
 
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Vance

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I was flying along at 9,500 feet density altitude at 80kts in 90 degree heat in a 914 powered Cavalon and had the turbo reduce to zero boost because I suspect the sensor for inlet air temperature saw too high a temperature. I slowed to 60kts and she flew level until the boost returned. It was not the Cavalon in the picture.
 

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Inquiring Mind

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What cause it thomasant and IM?
"Coked" turbo. I called Lockwood Aviation and was told to try to rotate the turbine, which was stuck, I asked what max torque not to exceed, used torque wrench and freed the turbine in a second. I was told if engine is shut down while turbo is hot, the semi-synthetic oil kind a caramelizes inside the turbine bearings. Since then I stopped using semi-synthetic oil and started letting the turbo to cool down after landing before shutting the engine down.
 

anthom

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In my case, it was poor assembly on my part when I had done the installation of my 915is. I had not tightened the clamp for the intercooler outlet silicone connector to the pipe that connected to the throttle body. The connector worked its way loose and gave me a rude awakening during take off. I was able to only get to 4200 rpm at WOT.
 

WaspAir

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stopped caring at 1000
"Coked" turbo. I called Lockwood Aviation and was told to try to rotate the turbine, which was stuck, I asked what max torque not to exceed, used torque wrench and freed the turbine in a second. I was told if engine is shut down while turbo is hot, the semi-synthetic oil kind a caramelizes inside the turbine bearings. Since then I stopped using semi-synthetic oil and started letting the turbo to cool down after landing before shutting the engine down.
On my turbo Bell, standard practice is to cool down for at least three minutes or at least 25 degrees Celsius in cylinder head temp before pulling the mixture. It's worth the fuel to protect the turbocharger
 

DavePA11

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I never owned a 914 turbo, but friends have an they let it cool down for 5 minutes or so. I'll have to ask them to what temp.
 

Doug Riley

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IMHO, the KISS principle is still valid. Hotrodding a 1200 cc, 80 hp engine with a turbo in order to fly a VFR recreational aircraft at modest altitudes violates the principle.

Again, IMHO, as a mere bugs-in-the teeth lawnchair-gyro pilot, the conventionally-aspirated 912S is about as fancy as I care to get for a gyro.
 

Tyger

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IMHO, the KISS principle is still valid. Hotrodding a 1200 cc, 80 hp engine with a turbo in order to fly a VFR recreational aircraft at modest altitudes violates the principle.

Again, IMHO, as a mere bugs-in-the teeth lawnchair-gyro pilot, the conventionally-aspirated 912S is about as fancy as I care to get for a gyro.
Agreed. I can't see any point in paying a bunch more money for a heavier, more complex engine, of older design (914) unless you fly regularly at higher altitudes.
 
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