NTSB Factual Report - Cavalon N198LT Sebring 30-10-2018

Steve_UK

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I'm not a pilot but have been lucky enough to fly in Mi-24 Hind, Mi-2, Mi-17, Lynx HAS3, Gliders, GA
The NTSB has now published its Final Report into the fatal Cavalon accident near Sebring FL in October 2018.


There is a long thread ( locked ) here on RWF




The Factual Report can be found on the NTSB via this link

https://app.ntsb.gov/pdfgenerator/ReportGeneratorFile.ashx?EventID=20181030X64550&AKey=1&RType=HTML&IType=FA


It's a disturbing read of a build and short flying life of approx 16 flight hours.
 

Tyger

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The Factual report replaces the Preliminary report, but it is not the final report from the NTSB on this accident. It sure is sobering reading, though.
 

Greg Vos

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Am I reading it right that one pitch control horn was not attached at the time of the accident?
 

Tyger

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That's how I read it, and it would explain the apparent loss of control. The whole build/flight-test history seems completely nightmarish.
 
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loftus

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Am I reading it right that one pitch control horn was not attached at the time of the accident?
I guess it's not clear whether this was at the time of, or the result of, the accident. Nevertheless despite the craziness of the previous thread on this, and the need to wait for the Final Report, it seems that this report reinforces the speculation of some of us who knew the pilot well, and had heard reports regarding the 'issues' with the build, that this was an unfortunate chain of events, with a subpar build for whatever reason, and subsequent loss of control due to control system failure, and not due to engine failure or pilot error.
 

EI-GYRO

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This critical paragraph says it all;

"The pitch control horn had two welded tangs (left and right); When assembled, the rod-end bearing to the pitch-control cable was placed between the tangs, and a bolt passed through one tang, the rod-end bearing, and the other tang and secured with a threaded locking nut. As found, the right-side tang was bent inward toward the left-side tang. The bolt holes and the tangs appeared intact and undamaged. The pitch control horn and the pitch control rod end bearing were further examined by the National Transportation Safety Board's Materials Laboratory. The Materials Laboratory found that the holes for the bolt were corroded but did not exhibit any deformation or signs that the rod end had been pulled from the pitch horn and that the damage was consistent with the rod end not having been attached to the pitch horn at the time of the accident. "

The bolt must have been fitted or the machine could not fly. The tang would likely have been bent in when the bolt withdrew from the other tang.
When the bolt completed its withdrawal from the second tang, control would be lost.
Looks like no nut securing the bolt, or inadequately locked.

It all speaks poorly of the builder-assist system.
 

fara

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It's a factual report not final report but facts given are fairly clear for anyone in the know. Anyone in Florida who was working in the industry, knew the issues with this gyroplane build and all. I think the assertion that even with the loss of pitch control cable the Cavalon can be flown carefully with trim and power changes/management is somewhat wishful thinking. The push-pull cable unlike control rods and bell-crank has no partial redundancy if any part of it detaches somehow.

This is one of the reasons why we insist on people doing builder's assist with us right at the factory and the reason why I am so hesitant to make dealers who can do builder's assist elsewhere. It's not rocket science but ...

This article also came out on May 1, 2020

 
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Philbennett

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The build, subsequent problems, the attempt at a fix and if things same in the US as here the VNe is 100mph. Getting along to get along.
 

Greg Vos

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Y
It's a factual report not final report but facts given are fairly clear for anyone in the know. Anyone in Florida who was working in the industry, knew the issues with this gyroplane build and all. I think the assertion that even with the loss of pitch control cable the Cavalon can be flown carefully with trim and power changes/management is somewhat wishful thinking. The push-pull cable unlike control rods and bell-crank has no partial redundancy if any part of it detaches somehow.

This is one of the reasons why we insist on people doing builder's assist with us right at the factory and the reason why I am so hesitant to make dealers who can do builder's assist elsewhere. It's not rocket science but ...

This article also came out on May 1, 2020

The factory rep states in the report that the Cavalon can be flown with use of the roll&pitch trim with careful use of power and shallow turns are possible, it’s listed in the POH under emergency procedures ( redundancy) well ..my limited exp with Cavalon I found it to be quite a few steps behind the aircraft when experimenting with this during control failure.

Chris was a very good pilot, and I’m sure he would have done everything he could to put the bird down using this so called redundancy technique, ( if it works as well as the factory claim) I called a gent in the AG factory about this crash and he was let’s say tight lipped and said he was not able to add any comments?

I will go on record and say the Cavalon is not my favorite gyroplane and I question this so called trim system as a second emergency control method....my Thinking a trim servo is to slow in response time, I accept it will add some control but .... apart from wonderful paper approvals it certainly is not the best gyro as some claim? just my opinion.
 

fara

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Phil Wrote:
"The build, subsequent problems, the attempt at a fix and if things same in the US as here the VNe is 100mph. Getting along to get along. "


What attempt at a fix? Do you mean some adjustment that Chris Lord did to the attachment at the rotorhead working with Jeff? That was fairly minor. In reality it needed a full control system detailed inspection which as I understand is not as easy to do in a Cavalon but it certainly was warranted no matter how many labor hours it would have taken. I am not aware that Chris Lord really took on any major fix. In retrospect he should have. This is info I got from Jeff who was working with Chris on this gyro.
 

Tyger

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The bolt must have been fitted or the machine could not fly. The tang would likely have been bent in when the bolt withdrew from the other tang.
When the bolt completed its withdrawal from the second tang, control would be lost.
Looks like no nut securing the bolt, or inadequately locked.

It all speaks poorly of the builder-assist system.
I would not call it a "system" at all. It's just winging it.

Find some company that deals in helicopters but sells gyros on the side, assign a mechanic who's never done a gyro build (likely never seen one done), have that guy do all the work while the so-called builder/owner "put on stickers and wheel covers"??

Then, when the original test pilot says he's not going to go near that thing again till it's fixed, you let some guys at the same company that did the shoddy build, under deadline of an upcoming airshow, do the "flight testing", but without documenting a thing! Then when someone points out the lack of documentation, the company president attests that it was done, to exactly 40 hours on the Hobbs, and signs off on the testing with the caveat that it "needs a rotor balance"??? I mean, OMG!
 
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Tyger

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I am not aware that Chris Lord really took on any major fix. In retrospect he should have. This is info I got from Jeff who was working with Chris on this gyro.
Would he have been legally allowed to do a major fix on a gyro he had not built?
 

Vance

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Would he have been legally allowed to do a major fix on a gyro he had not built?
It appears to me the FAA allows anyone to work on an experimental amateur built aircraft.
 

Tyger

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If "anyone" can work on E-ABs, what is the point of having a Repairman Certificate - Experimental Aircraft Builder, which is specifically limited to the original builder of each E-AB aircraft? I always thought that you had to be either the original builder (with that certificate) or an FAA certified mechanic to do anything but routine maintenance.
 

Vance

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If "anyone" can work on E-ABs, what is the point of having a Repairman Certificate - Experimental Aircraft Builder, which is specifically limited to the original builder of each E-AB aircraft? I always thought that you had to be either the original builder (with that certificate) or an FAA certified mechanic to do anything but routine maintenance.
As I read the FARs the repairman certificate is so the builder can do his annual condition inspection.

Without a repairman certificate it appears to me a certificated airframe and power plant mechanic must sign an EAB off as airworthy within the preceding twelve months for it to be considered airworthy. The mechanic does not need to have inspection authority to sign an EAB off as airworthy.
 

Vance

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Cut and pasted from the Federal Aviation Regulations.
§ 43.1 Applicability.

(a)
Except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (d) of this section, this part prescribes rules governing the maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, and alteration of any -

(1) Aircraft having a U.S. airworthiness certificate;

(2) Foreign-registered civil aircraft used in common carriage or carriage of mail under the provisions of Part 121 or 135 of this chapter; and

(3) Airframe, aircraft engines, propellers, appliances, and component parts of such aircraft.

(b) This part does not apply to -

(1) Any aircraft for which the FAA has issued an experimental certificate, unless the FAA has previously issued a different kind of airworthiness certificate for that aircraft;
 

Philbennett

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Phil Wrote:
"The build, subsequent problems, the attempt at a fix and if things same in the US as here the VNe is 100mph. Getting along to get along. "


What attempt at a fix? Do you mean some adjustment that Chris Lord did to the attachment at the rotorhead working with Jeff? That was fairly minor. In reality it needed a full control system detailed inspection which as I understand is not as easy to do in a Cavalon but it certainly was warranted no matter how many labor hours it would have taken. I am not aware that Chris Lord really took on any major fix. In retrospect he should have. This is info I got from Jeff who was working with Chris on this gyro.
As others have said regarding the build it seems at best there were a lot of question marks. Yet look at all the players in the chain. The US agent for the manufacturer, the west coast dealer, initial build had the head of the US (who then went to ELA now at PAL-V), Lord himself held a senior position at the importer. It’s not as if you didn’t have the right people in the room.

It’s absolutely pitiful and if this industry wants to become serious and grow from the puddle it is to a lake then it has to change because this does us all no favours. We will have all probably even used the phrase holes of the cheese... well FFS.

I mention Lord himself because he was an experienced pilot, with the snags he had (and given his position likely had as much inside story on the build) and a rotor as bad as it was just the day before. Then with all of that within half a day the thing is flown at what? 90knots ground speed with a 6knot crosswind makes airspeed what? 88knots? What is VNe?
 

Vance

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As others have said regarding the build it seems at best there were a lot of question marks. Yet look at all the players in the chain. The US agent for the manufacturer, the west coast dealer, initial build had the head of the US (who then went to ELA now at PAL-V), Lord himself held a senior position at the importer. It’s not as if you didn’t have the right people in the room.

It’s absolutely pitiful and if this industry wants to become serious and grow from the puddle it is to a lake then it has to change because this does us all no favours. We will have all probably even used the phrase holes of the cheese... well FFS.
There was no west coast dealer involved.

Cloud Nine Helicopters is near the east coast.

Freedom has a price and occasionally things don’t work out.

I love the freedom the experimental amateur built aircraft (EAB) regulations allow.

I doubt EAB is limiting the growth of gyroplane sales.

Last I checked 10,600 Vans RV fixed wing aircraft kits have been sold operating under the same EAB regulations.

Factory built gyroplanes are available in the USA for those who don't want to build.

I mention Lord himself because he was an experienced pilot, with the snags he had (and given his position likely had as much inside story on the build) and a rotor as bad as it was just the day before. Then with all of that within half a day the thing is flown at what? 90knots ground speed with a 6knot crosswind makes airspeed what? 88knots? What is VNe?
When last I looked 87 knots was listed as VNE for a 914 powered Cavalon.

In my experience often the winds at 1,000 feet msl will be stronger and in a different direction than surface winds.
 

Philbennett

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There was no west coast dealer involved.

Cloud Nine Helicopters is near the east coast.

Freedom has a price and occasionally things don’t work out.

I love the freedom the experimental amateur built aircraft (EAB) regulations allow.

I doubt EAB is limiting the growth of gyroplane sales.

Last I checked 10,600 Vans RV fixed wing aircraft kits have been sold operating under the same EAB regulations.

Factory built gyroplanes are available in the USA for those who don't want to build.



When last I looked 87 knots was listed as VNE for a 914 powered Cavalon.

In my experience often the winds at 1,000 feet msl will be stronger and in a different direction than surface winds.
I meant east coast. my apologies but it changes nothing. Its not about great regulation its about the clowns that exist in the chain. Freedom comes with responsibility and there were many opportunity for many with that responsibility to say stop. They didn't and this is a result.

You can play it down and play the diplomat but it is just plain stupidity. You might also reflect that whilst the accident pilot had wide experience in gyroplanes he had flown (according to the NTSB data) just 6 hours in this make and model. That is 6...SIX and 2 of those were the morning of the accident and then flight with a ground speed of 90knots, in an aircraft with question marks and at <1000ft. You don't see the issues?
 
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