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Fri, Apr 12, 2024

NTSB Prelim: Arthur B Canning Merlin Lite

About 100 To 150 Ft Above Ground Level The Engine “Went Silent”

Location: Mulberry, FL Accident Number: ERA24FA160
Date & Time: April 2, 2024, 10:38 Local Registration: N622PC
Aircraft: Arthur B Canning Merlin Lite Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On April 2, 2024, at 1038 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Merlin Lite motorglider, N622PC, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at the South Lakeland Airport (X49), Mulberry, Florida. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries. The motorglider was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. 

A witness, who was outside his home along the runway at X49, reported seeing the motorglider taxi past towards the end of the runway, and noted nothing sounded out of the ordinary. He heard the motorglider begin its takeoff roll, and observed it depart. When the motorglider reached an altitude of about 100 to 150 ft above ground level the engine “went silent.” A review of a surveillance video recording revealed that after liftoff, as the motorglider was about midfield, it turned to the right, then to the left, and pitched up, before the left wing dropped, and it began a near vertical left rotating descent. The motorglider impacted the ground resulting in substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage.

Postaccident examination of the motorglider revealed that the empennage was partially separated from the fuselage and remained attached by the elevator and rudder control cables and rods. The right wing exhibited impact crushing aft along the entirety of the leading edge. The left wing exhibited impact crushing aft along the outboard two-thirds of the leading edge. 

A portion of the left wing was impact fractured outboard of the left flap and remained attached by the left aileron control rod. Flight control continuity was confirmed through multiple overload fractures from all flight control surfaces to the flight controls in the cockpit. Postaccident examination of the single-cylinder engine found that the propeller attachment bolt was impact fractured. Both sparkplugs were removed and melted aluminum was present on their electrodes. The cylinder head was removed, which revealed about a 1-inch diameter hole in the top of the piston. The cylinder head, cylinder and piston were retained and sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Materials Laboratory for further examination.

The right wing fuel tank was breached, and no fuel was present inside the tank. Fuel was observed in the left wing fuel tank and a sample was retained for further examination. Additionally, four fuel cans were found in the pilot’s hangars and samples were retained from each of these fuel cans for further examination.

The wreckage was retained for further examination

FMI: www.ntsb.gov


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