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NTSB Final Report: Just Highlander Aircraft

The Uniform Crush Damage To Both Wings Is Consistent With The Airplane Encountering An Aerodynamic Stall Before (Impact)

Location: Bennington, Oklahoma Accident Number: CEN22LA321
Date & Time: July 17, 2022, 20:00 Local Registration: N7514N
Aircraft: Just Highlander Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Aerodynamic stall/spin Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

Analysis: The pilot and student pilot-rated passenger departed to conduct low-level flight operations over and on a river in a remote area. After not hearing from either occupant, family members initiated a search and found the wreckage several hours later. The airplane came to rest on a remote island in the river, nose-down with the empennage in a near-vertical position. The leading edge of both wings exhibited aft accordion crush damage and the engine was pushed aft into the cabin of the airplane.

Postaccident examination of the wreckage found that the damage to the propeller was consistent with no or low power at the time of the accident. The right fuel tank was breached with no fuel present. The left fuel tank was intact, and a small amount of a white liquid was found inside the tank. The auxiliary fuel tank in the cabin was intact and a small amount of clear blue liquid was found inside the tank. No fuel samples were obtained from the engine and no fuel was recovered during the removal of the airplane from the accident site. The amount of fuel onboard the airplane at the time of departure could not be determined. An examination of the airframe and engine revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operations. It could not be determined if there was a loss of engine power or not.

The position of the wreckage when it was located and the uniform crush damage to both wings is consistent with the airplane encountering an aerodynamic stall before it impacted the ground. It is likely that the pilot exceeded the airplane’s critical angle of attack at an altitude too low to recover which resulted in a loss of control and impact with terrain. Toxicology testing detected the potentially sedating antihistamine, cetirizine, in the pilot’s system, but based on the drug’s low level in the pilot’s heart blood, it is unlikely to have caused significant psychomotor effects. Ethanol was detected at low levels in some specimens and not detected in others from the passenger; a postmortem ethanol source was likely, and ethanol likely did not contribute to the crash.

Probable Cause and Findings: The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be -- The pilot’s exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and loss of control.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov


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